Your Words Matter.

I’m not sure how to say this without it sounding like a rant. Because I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated by the ridiculously large number of people who have discredited my opinion based on my age. By my lack of experience, supposed naivete, youth, whatever. Like my college degree doesn’t matter. Like my personal life experience thus far doesn’t matter. Like my opinions and beliefs don’t matter.

Hey, I don’t care how old you are or what stage of life you’re in. Your voice matters. Your experiences matter.

I hate being told that my educators brainwashed me like I’m unable to make my own decisions on what I do and don’t believe. I hate when people assume that I don’t know what I’m talking about. That I’m just spouting off useless information that I mindlessly agreed was fact.

No. I have spent time researching and forming my own opinions. I continue to learn and shape my beliefs now, after I’ve graduated. No one forced me into this. I chose my major. I chose my classes. I chose which side to take (and my teachers almost always offered all sides).

I try to make sure every single one of my beliefs are based firstly, off the Bible and secondly, reliable research. I’m not an idiot.

I know what I’m talking about, and I’m tired of people telling me I don’t. Yes, sometimes I’m wrong. Sometimes I don’t know everything about a topic. Sometimes I get lost and confused. Sometimes I change my mind.

But some things I know a lot about and when people (who haven’t studied what I have) tell me I don’t, it makes me angry. Actually, it makes me sad. I just want to shout “HELLO. I HAVE A DEGREE IN THIS. I KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. WHY WILL YOU NOT LISTEN? CAN YOU EVEN HEAR ME?” I feel invisible.

Because most of the time, it feels like whoever I’m talking to doesn’t even want to listen. They just sit in their own mindset refusing to just listen to a different side. I’m not trying to convince you or force you over to my side. It’s not red rover. I just want you to hear me out. Listen. Just count my side as valid. Instead of counting it out before I even speak. It’s more like the telephone game.

I feel like the older generations think millennials are clueless and dumb and out partying and protesting and have no idea what the “real world” is like. But I wish they’d see what I see. Millennials are wise and passionate and strong and brave and powerful. We know what we’re doing (as often as they do, anyway). They just refuse to listen or look or pay attention. Yes, we’ll love to learn from them. But they can also learn from us. We can all learn from each other. Let’s sit around a bonfire together.

If you’re reading this… even if you can’t read it, your words are important. I spent so much of my life not speaking the words that I wanted to say. Out of anxiety and fear. I still do it all. the. time. But we have to remember, our words matter. Even if no one listens. Even if no one cares. Even if no one agrees. They matter. You matter. Regardless of what your beliefs are.

So listen. and speak (in whatever language you want). and learn. and keep pushing forward. keep advocating. keep writing. because it matters. it all matters.

Make your voice be heard.

Trust me, someone sees you. I see you. God sees you.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Side thought: Maybe we protest so much because others refuse to listen during actual civilized conversation and we long for our voice to be heard somehow.

recent reads, all time favorites and to reads

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In middle school, the first books that got me into reading were the Twilight series and the Christy Miller series (which turned into the love of ALL books by Robin Jones Gunn- she’s still my all time favorite author and Christy and Todd are actual couple goals). Throughout middle and high school, I was very into fiction books. Nicholas Sparks, Sarah Dessen, the Divergent series, the Hunger Games series and many other stories along the way… you get the drift. (And I’m very embarrassed to admit that I’ve never read the Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter books… what is wrong with me, really?) But lately I have been on a nonfiction kick. So, I wanted to share with you some of the books I’ve read as well as some that are on my to-read list that I already know will be amazing.

First up, my current read:

Executing Grace by Shane Claiborne
I’ve been wanting to read a book by Shane for a while now and when I found out about this one, I knew it was one that I had to read. I’m only two chapters in right now, but it has already challenged me in how I think about the death penalty. I know many people will automatically turn away from this book especially if they are pro-death penalty because Shane is making the argument against it. But he writes it in a way that appeals to all audiences. For a long time, he was for the death penalty and he recounts what made his opinion change while having compassion and understanding for those who are for it. He also doesn’t leave a subject or role in executions untouched. He covers it all, has real-life examples and stories and Jesus is laced throughout the entire book. I’m very excited to finish reading it, and I highly recommend it!

Current devotional:

Savor by Shauna Niequist
I received this as a gift at Christmas and was very excited to get a devotional. I’ve admittedly been struggling in the quiet time department and was thankful to receive something that could be a guide for me during that time. Since it’s a daily devotional, I decided to start it on January 1st. Again, I’ll admit I’ve gotten a few weeks behind on it recently. But I’m hoping to get back into it. So far, I really enjoy reading what Shauna has to say. It’s not the deepest writing ever, but it’s a good pick-me-up during the day.

Next up, my recent favorites:

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
This book, y’all. I think this book is a new all time favorite. It’s a book that I could 100% see myself reading again (and I don’t re-read books often) and a book I could post a quote from every day. Bryan is one of my favorite people. My first exposure to him was a TED talk by him that I watched in one of my classes. Let’s just say that I’ve now seen that TED talk probably ten times. Bryan is a lawyer and the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. He’s been on the front lines of the injustices within the criminal justice system for years and has been an advocate and warrior in fighting to correct those injustices. This book is full of heartbreaking as well as celebratory stories that he experienced first-hand. Before reading this book, I would have considered myself fairly knowledgeable of the injustices within the CJ system but I learned so much from this book and I know I’d learn even more if I read it again. There were stories that almost brought me to tears, stories that made me full of anger at the injustices, but the book was also full of grace and mercy and redemption and it is beautiful. It is a beautiful book and you should read it.

Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey
Sarah Bessey has been one of my favorite social media presents for a little while now. So when I got this book, I was excited to dig into her actual work. Jesus Feminist probably sounds scary to some people (oh no, the F-word!), but I think this is a book for everyone (male or female). Even if you don’t think you consider yourself a feminist, Sarah does an excellent job of redefining the word in a Biblical context. She quite literally revisits the role of women in the church, and it was very inspiring to me. Sarah’s voice and writing is stunning. She is extremely knowledgeable of the gospel, and it’s obvious that she has done her research. Again, I’d recommend this book in a heartbeat. I’m looking forward to reading her new book, Out of Sorts, when my to-read list gets a little less long.

Books I’ve started but not quite finished:

America’s Original Sin by Jim Wallis
Jim is the founder of Sojourners, a faith-based online news outlet (of sorts). I stumbled across Sojourners a while ago and instantly fell in love with their mission. Their articles are some of my favorites to read. Currently, one of my good friends is interning for them and I was given this book by her before she left. I got about a third of the way through before I (temporarily) abandoned it and moved on to something else. It wasn’t at all because I didn’t love it. Jim has amazing and knowledgeable input on racism, and this book is most definitely an important and necessary read. For some reason, I just had to take a break from it, though. I think the writing was just a little too long and hard for me at the time I was reading it. But eventually, I look forward to finishing it up. I would definitely recommend that everyone check out Sojourners as well as this book.

Faith Unraveled by Rachel Held Evans
I started this book, but then I think I got another book that I really, really wanted to read so I put this one down and picked that one up. Rachel is another one of my favorite people on social media, and I’ve been wanting to read one of her books for a while. This was the first one I found (and also her first book I think) so I got it. I only got a few pages in before I moved to the other book, but I have a feeling that I’m going to like it. I don’t agree with every single thing that Rachel believes, but I enjoy learning more about her viewpoint so I’m excited to dig deeper into her faith journey. I’m also looking forward to eventually reading her other books as well.

Finally, my to-read list:

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
This book is currently sitting on my bookshelf. It scares me slightly because it looks like a textbook, but I am so excited to read it. I read a couple of chapters in one of my classes so I already know that it’s amazing. I just have to motivate myself to read the entire thing. Michelle is a law professor and an outstanding woman. She is so knowledgeable on mass incarceration, the criminal justice system and race, and all of that knowledge is revealed in this book. It’s not an easy or comfortable book to read. I know it will be challenging and uncomfortable to me, but I would easily consider this book the most important book on this list (and it’s one of the ones I haven’t read…). Like all of these books, I would highly recommend this one.

Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle
I also received this book as a Christmas present. The only thing I really know about it is that a friend posted a quote from it, I fell in love, and I wanted to read it. Gregory is the founder of Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program in Los Angeles. The book tells stories from his time working with the individuals in the program. In the about section on the back of the book, it says ” Tattoos on the Heart reminds us that no life is less valuable than another.” So basically, I know I’m going to love it.

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
Jen is another one of my favorite people to follow on social media. So again, I wanted to read her books. This is just the book that’s currently sitting on my bookshelf. But I’m looking forward to reading any or all of her books. She’s hilarious but also graceful and profound. When I finally decide to read something lighter, I’m going straight to this one.

 

And that’s everything (for now)! Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever read any of these books and what you think of them if you have. Are there any you’re going to the bookstore to pick up right now? I want to know that too. Also, feel free to leave me suggestions on what I should read next. I always welcome a longer to-read list and a messier bookshelf.

employed.

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“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:13
I read this verse today and it immediately reminded me of what I get to do for a living. What a blessing it is to help those in need on a daily basis.

I’ve officially been employed for a month, and I’ve got things to say. In case you weren’t aware, I work for a non-profit organization as a case manager. I have a caseload of 50 clients who all have some sort of mental illness.

It’s so strange because it is not at all what I saw myself doing and it’s not at all what is within my comfort zone. But it is so obviously where I’m supposed to be.

I joke that God applied for this position for me because while I applied for multiple positions at my organization, I didn’t apply for this one. My application ended up being transferred to my program where I was then called for an interview and then hired.  After six months of job searching, I wasn’t going to say no to a job that quite literally fell in my lap.

And I’m so glad I said yes.

Because it’s been so good. My co-workers are wonderful. I could brag on them for days. The working environment is fantastic. The hours, the schedule, the actual work I’m doing, heck even the dress code is all great. And I get paid! I’m still trying to get the hang of it all and get settled into a routine, but I think I’m going to like (love) it. I really do. I already do.

But I can’t lie and say that it hasn’t been hard. It’s been exhausting. It’s been anxiety-inducing. It’s been frustrating. And I’ve had plenty of “I have no idea what I’m doing” moments. But I know I’m supposed to be here which makes it easier to push through the difficult moments and to work all the more harder to learn faster and better.

God is so clearly pushing me to become a better me through this job because the majority of my job is doing things that would normally make me extremely uncomfortable.

For example: phone calls. I typically hate those. Even with my friends. But I probably make at least 10-20 phone calls a day.

Walking up to people’s doors. Yeah, that gives me anxiety when it’s my friend’s house. Take it up a notch… now I’m walking up to people’s doors who I’ve never met before in sometimes the sketchiest places in the city.

Driving around town. I don’t like driving when I know where I’m going. I’m so directionally challenged. But here I am driving all around the county to places I didn’t even know existed. Sometimes with other people in my car making my anxiety level even worse.

Treatment Team. Okay first of all, I love treatment team. It is so insanely helpful when you’ve got clients with a whole bunch of question marks beside them. It is a much needed time of problem solving. But y’all know discussion is my worst nightmare. Discussion points on the syllabus was the death of me and my grades in college. It has always been so hard for me to speak up in those types of settings. So naturally it’s still a difficult time.

But God is teaching me that I have to press on. I have to overcome my anxiety, awkwardness and fear. I have to do these things that make me uncomfortable because IT’S MY JOB. I have no choice but to do them. It makes absolutely no sense to me why I got this job. But I know God wants me to learn and grow as a person through it. I know it’s where God planned for me to be. If it wasn’t, every door that opened and every moment that lined up perfectly wouldn’t have happened. So, I’m going to keep working as hard as I possibly can.

I thought I’d hate having a job and being a real adult. I really did. I missed college (and still do) and thought there was no way I could experience something better. But God has proved me wrong. I love working. I love helping people through my work. I love having an outlet to pursue my passions. And I genuinely can’t wait to continue moving forward and pressing on.

Some days I don’t want to go to work. Some days I don’t want to wake up at 6:15. Some days I want to give up. Some days go nothing like I planned them to. Some days I’m so exhausted by the end of the day that all I want to do is go home and get in my bed. But most days, I find something to thank God for and keep pressing on. So, that’s what I’m going to keep doing.

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

To the soon-to-be College Graduate

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Dear almost college graduates,

Congrats on your upcoming graduation! In the words of Elle Woods, we did it! Well you did it, I did it last May. But anyway, if you’re graduating in December, you’re so close! Push through, you can do it! If your time isn’t until May, savor this time. It’ll sneak up on you really quick even though it feels far away. You can do it too!

Being six months out of college, I thought I would share with you some post-graduation wisdom. But first, can I be honest with you? The most common phrases I’ve used to describe this time after college are “I hate it.” “It’s terrible.” “It’s hard.” and “I would not recommend.” But don’t let that scare you. Because I’m positive that it’s easier and better for some people than it has been for me. Some people use completely different descriptors. And I’ve seen their beautiful and well-earned success. However, I also know that I am not alone in my struggles because I’ve talked to others in similar situations as me. The problem is that no one warned us (or me at least) that graduating could be horrible and that you may or may not have a quarter-life crisis. So because of that, I’m going to pass along some things I’ve learned as well as some encouragement so that you don’t have the shock that I experienced.

I’d like to start by saying that college, for me, was the most beautiful time in my life thus far. I plan to go back to get my master’s because it was so beautiful. The learning, community and opportunities available are simply incredible, and I am beyond thankful for those four years. It was quite literally the best time of my life. So I would challenge you not to take your time in college for granted. Don’t waste one minute of it. If you’ve got one month left or four years left, live every moment to its fullest. Be present and active. And try not to regret anything once it’s over.

My six months post-graduation have been full of job searching, resumes, cover letters, applications, emails, phone calls, interviews and ultimately lots of rejection letters, emails and phone calls. I’d like to say I’m a pro at those things now, but apparently I’m not since I’ve turned down one job (very early on in my search… I’m regretting that now, to be honest) in my probably in the twenties or more worth of applications and interviews. Your six months post-graduation may look very similar to this or it may look nothing like it. But either way, never give up. And you should probably start searching early.

During this time, I am trying to completely trust the Lord because it’s all I really can do. It is so dang hard, though. But I refuse to allow myself to get discouraged. I will say that this season has been full of thoughts of uncertainty, anger, sadness, confusion and doubt. I have second-guessed my major and career choices, my own hire-ability and my lack of experience. I have even wondered if I’ll be single, unemployed and living with my parents for the rest of my life. And you may experience these thoughts too. But remember that He is still good. He is always good. And because I know that, I know that there is something good coming. His plan will play out exactly how it should. I just wish it wasn’t taking so long. I may be impatient, but I take peace in knowing that He is always faithful.

I want you to know, that you are good enough. Maybe graduating will be nothing like you expected. Maybe you won’t get a job as quickly as you wanted. Maybe you’ll have to compromise what you are looking for. Maybe it’ll be lonely and boring and maybe you’ll hate it all. But it will all work out, and you are good enough. You won’t always feel good enough, but you are because you are an image bearer of God with a unique and important purpose. Don’t forget that.

Stay optimistic and find the positives. There is good in the rejection. There is good in the phone call you never got. There is good in the email that wasn’t responded to. There is good. You just have to find it.

Also, always obey the Lord and where He is calling you and follow Him with every ounce in you. You will be okay if you do that.

I’ve officially deemed myself a stay-at-home dog mom for the time being. And while that’s not even close to where I saw myself at this exact moment, it’ll do for now. Because that’s exactly where I am supposed to be.

Before I end, I want to talk about community for a bit. Because when you graduate, you instantly lose the immediate, easy and convenient community of friends that you had. And let me tell you, it takes hard work to maintain friendships and to create new ones. But it is so worth it.

You have to put effort in, though. Put effort into seeing and communicating with the friends you hold dear. It may be impossible to keep in touch with every single person you saw on a daily basis so make sure you’re being intentional with your closest and best friends. But YOU put in the effort. Don’t wait for them to reach out to you. You also have to seek out ways to build a new community. Whether that be work, a small group, church, volunteering somewhere… Find a community. You will feel so lonely if you don’t seek out ways to get involved. So do it.

Stay positive. Work hard. Show kindness. Do good. Be brave. Find confidence. Stay patient. Trust the Lord.

I wish you the best of luck on your future endeavors. I sincerely hope your post-graduation life is a little better than mine has been, but if it’s not, know that you are not alone and that everything will eventually be okay even if it doesn’t seem like it.

In the meantime if anyone knows of a way to send my resume and a “please hire me” note to every nonprofit in East Tennessee, I’d love to know it.

Love y’all,
Mikayla

Additional note: I was too lazy to figure out where to fit this in, but I read a She Reads Truth devotional after finishing this post and it ended with “Don’t waste your waiting. Your story is much bigger than the ending.” The entire devotional was ridiculously relatable to me in this job hunting season, but that quote jumped out at me. Because I’ve been wasting my waiting. I find myself so often doing nothing productive and just waiting around for something to happen. But nothing happens when you’re doing nothing. And that’s not how I should be using this blessing of free time. So a reminder to me and you in your season of waiting whatever it may be, don’t waste it. Do something good with it. It’s an opportunity to make a difference in your life and other people’s lives. It’s an opportunity to read and gain more knowledge. To write or volunteer or advocate or clean your house or workout or explore or learn something new or spend time with the people you love. It’s a time to spend time with God. It’s even a time to cuddle your dogs and catch up on Netflix shows. Just do whatever God has called you to do in that moment and work hard at whatever it is. Also, read that She Reads Truth.

The Importance of Listening

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Because I want America to look like this.

I think it’s safe to say that we all love a good story. Whether it’s a cheesy, love story like a Nicholas Sparks book, an action adventure movie like Lord of the Rings or a funny, light-hearted TV show like New Girl. We love them. We laugh, we cry, we gasp, we sit on the edge of our seat. We become emotionally invested in them.

So why then, since I know that we all love a good story, do we completely disregard the stories of the people sitting beside us?

Because don’t real live people matter more than Ronnie Miller, Frodo Baggins and Jessica Day? It’s an easy answer on the surface… Of course real people matter more than fictional ones. But sometimes I find it kinda hard to believe. (This coming from a girl who named her puppies Luna and Pippin.)

But ponder this… how many times do we prove by our actions (or inactions) that we care more about fictional characters than actual people? We never question or second-guess the people on TV or in the books. We may disagree with something they say or do, but we usually still love them, right? And we actively want to know how they are doing and what they are doing. I’ve even almost prayed for people who aren’t real before (honestly, what is wrong with me).

So obviously, we care quite a bit about the lives of characters. But when it comes to those actually in our lives…

Please tell me I’m not the only one who has: asked someone else how they are doing just so I can tell them how I am, had my response planned out in the heat of an argument or discussion before the other person even says their opinion, or completely ignored or disregarded another person’s experience as valid or true just because I have never had that experience.

I do those things more often than I’d like to admit, and I’m just going to go ahead and assume that you have too.

So, I think it’s time, past time really, that we all sat down and actually listened. It’s as simple as that. Sitting down and listening to our family, friends, acquaintances, strangers… people we like and people we don’t, people we agree with and people we don’t, people who look like us and people who don’t.

Instead of shouting “You’re wrong!” or “I don’t believe you!” or “That’s not true!” Why don’t we sit down, close our mouths, place our full attention on someone else and listen?

Because the truth is I cannot speak for the male experience. I cannot speak for the black experience. Or the gay, transgender, poor, mother, elderly, married, just to name a few. Because that’s not who I am.

I cannot speak for anyone’s experience except for mine. Except for Mikayla’s. I can relate to the straight, white, Christian, single, 22 year old, recent college graduate woman. But even then, I cannot speak for every person who fits those categories. Because each person lives their own unique lives differently.

Each person has their own story.

At the root, this is why it’s problematic to ask the only black person in the room to speak for their entire race. It’s why it’s problematic for white people to say that black individuals aren’t unfairly targeted by the police. Or why I can’t claim to know exactly how an LGBT person feels.

Because the truth is we don’t know how anyone else experiences the world except for ourselves. We could change that, though, if we listened.

Even when we know we’re going to disagree with someone’s opinion, let’s listen.
Even when we don’t agree with someone’s lifestyle or choices, let’s listen.
Even when we have a hard time believing that what they are saying is true, let’s listen.

It’s a choice. You don’t have to listen. You can easily choose not to. But you know, I think listening has the ability to create a more peaceful, just, loving, graceful and good society and world. Because instead of fighting, arguing, ignoring, resisting, forgetting and not caring. We would be sitting down, having honest conversation, opening up and listening.

This doesn’t mean we compromise our beliefs, opinions and ideas. It means we listen first. Then tell the one across the table (who is hopefully willing to listen now that you have listened to them) what you think. That’s it. You don’t have to end the conversation in agreement or with changed beliefs. But you can and should end the conversation in love, peace and respect and with some new insight and knowledge.

That’s the first and most important step, I think. But listening could also go as far as going out of our way to talk to those with completely different experiences so that we can learn more about diversity. It could mean, if we are in a place of higher privilege than the one we are listening to, advocating on their behalf so that their experience can be better. It could even mean something as simple as being a listening ear for a friend who has had a rough day. I would challenge all of us to do all of those things and more.

Ultimately, listening like this could mean a lot. It could be world changing. World shattering, even. I think it could even solve all the world’s problems… maybe. Combined with a whole lot of Jesus, probably.

But my point is, let’s listen. Every person’s story is important and worth hearing.

And I think we can all agree that we can never get too many stories in our lives.

So, I’ll say it again. Listen. Learn. Be a good human. And hug someone different than you.

Until next time.
Mikayla

I am not alone.

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I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

These words spoke truth into me this morning at church. Don’t you love how God always knows what you need to hear?

I can pretend all I want that this has been an easy August, but the truth is post-college depression is all too real apparently. (I googled it… it’s a common problem)

Instead of focusing on the beautiful, wonderful and amazing things that happen.
I’ve fallen into focusing on the negative.

I’m jobless. Because finding a job is hard and rejection letters just keep on coming.
I’m lonely. Because most of my friends either don’t live here anymore or are still in school.
I’m bored. Because the only thing I have to do is sit at home with my puppies.
I’m pretty sure I’ve gained weight. Because I don’t walk up hills all day anymore.

But you know, the next song we sang at church was Lead Me to the Cross. And it always gets me. Every. Time. Rid me of myself, I belong to You.

If I really did that, got on my knees, laid me down, got rid of myself, the negatives wouldn’t bother me.

Because I wouldn’t believe those lies that I’ve been telling myself.
I’d trust in His plan.
I’d know that I belong to Him.
I wouldn’t define myself by what society calls successful, meaningful and purposeful.
I wouldn’t define myself by how many friends I have.
I’d identify myself by Christ alone.
I’d know that I am never alone.
I’d spend my time more wisely and with Him.

And that’s what I strive for because life is so much better when I don’t let myself get in the way of the joy found in Christ.

I got a postcard in the mail today from a dear friend. On the front was a picture of a piece from the British Museum. It was a chair made out of guns. On the back, she wrote “What man intends for evil, God does for good!”

And I could write an entire post about that in a completely different context, but here I will say… what I see as terrible is good in God’s eyes. This season is good because He is good, not bad because it’s not what my plan was.

After Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, Joseph found the heart to say “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

That’s amazing. Humanly, he should have been angry. He should have hated his brothers, but instead he realized that God used that season of awful for good. I think that’s exactly what God is teaching me now. It may not be physical harm or violence like Joseph. It’s definitely not the most terrible thing to ever happen. It’s simply a storm that I wish would pass. But I keep reminding myself how truly blessed I am. There’s so much to be thankful for. And this season, will be used for good. It will be used to fulfill His holy plan. It will teach me and grow me and help me trust Him more. I know there is good here because God is here.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” -Romans 8:28

“Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer.” -Ruth 4:14

My prayer today is… Lord, let me become more aware of your presence. Thank you for never leaving or forsaking me. Thank you for loving me so well. Thank you for grace in my failures. Thank you for your perfect plan. You are so good. You are faithful. And you are sovereign. Help me remember that. Help me love you better. Amen.

Heaven.

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I hear a lot of fellow Christians on the subject of Heaven talking about the rewards that we will receive. About how we’ll get all of these fancy crowns and mansions. There will be glorious streets of gold. It’ll all be so amazing and like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

But honestly, I don’t get why that’s so often the focus.

Yes, those things are wonderful and sure I guess I’m pumped for it because we all know I’m not going to see those things in my lifetime here.

But in Heaven we’re going to be in the presence, the actual presence, of our Lord and Savior.

I don’t think I’m going to care if I have a crown or a mansion. I won’t care that I’m walking on streets of gold.

Because I’ll be able to worship Him perfectly forever and ever. I’ll be able to sit at His actual feet and praise everything that He has done. I’ll be able to walk by His side for eternity. Isn’t that a thousand times more beautiful and incredible than riches?

Our human minds always go straight to the riches of Heaven, but that’s not even important. We will be with God!

Admittedly, I’m not really one to want to hurry my residence in Heaven along because there’s so much more that I want to do here. But when I started thinking about it like the presence of God rather than a place with lots of riches, it became something that I can actually look forward to. The fancy and gold part of Heaven has never really been what attracts me to it. It’s just Jesus that does.

No more pain, tears, heartache, injustice, anxiety, fear, hatred, depression… so that we can just continuously joyously worship our Father with our Father without those things as distractions. Wow.

There’s also this hope that I can look forward to a place where everyone is unified. There will be a unified and peaceful body of people, with different genders, races, languages, classes, educations, interests, country of origins, backgrounds and sins, together worshiping our commonality… God. It’s so beautiful to me. We live on an earth with so many arguments and wars and conflicts and disagreements, and Heaven won’t have that. We will finally look past our differences and live together peacefully. I literally can’t wait for that.

But I also think we often get caught up in “Lord, come quickly” because we’re tired of living in this evil, messed up world and want that peace. I know I’ve definitely thought that a few times in the past few weeks alone. But I think we have to start  remembering the people, so many people, who have never heard Jesus’s name. They don’t know about His love, grace, mercy, kindness, courage, and forgiveness. They haven’t heard of His incredible act on the cross. They don’t know, and we should have compassion for them because Heaven is going to be so great.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve asked the Lord to go ahead and come just because I know I’m going to fail a test the next day. But in the grand scheme of things, that is selfish. He can go ahead and come because I know I’ll be in Heaven with Him when He does. But what about the people who haven’t heard? We should love the world enough to pray that each person knows Him before they leave this earth. And I know God will come back whenever He wants regardless of what we want or pray or hope. But we should want to see every single person in Heaven with us.

So even wishing for just ourselves to be in Heaven with Him before His timing is selfish. We are still here, living and breathing, because He is using us here to spread the gospel. Embrace that. Yes, look forward to Heaven and think of it as often as you get discouraged by this world. It’s encouraging to know where our home is. But don’t waste your time here wishing you were there. You are being used with every breath for a higher purpose and calling and it’s important. Don’t waste it.

Ultimately, it should break our hearts every time someone dies without knowing Him. Even if they were the worst person on the planet. Even if we think they somehow deserved death.

It should break our hearts.

I guess there’s two actions to do from here that I want to challenge all of us to do:

  1. Tell others about Jesus through words and also actions. Not for an extra reward in Heaven but because your heart is broken. And not just the comfortable or the easy or the ones you think deserve Jesus, but the ones that you know you’re the exact opposite from. The ones you know will be hard. The ones you know will take work. And do it with love. Love that person like Jesus so that they see Jesus before you even speak His name.
  2. And try your absolute hardest to make this world as close to Heaven as possible. Yes, it will never happen. This world will never be perfect. Sin messed that up. But we can advocate for justice and mercy and peace and love and hope and joy and unity. We can make this world better and we should. We shouldn’t complacently sit around while terrible things happen because we know it will never compare to Heaven. We shouldn’t walk by the broken man on the side of the road. This is our home for the time being so we should always strive to make it better, more like Jesus. Be healers and peacemakers and bridge builders and lovers and uniters and joy bringers. Because Jesus himself prayed… “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) And that should be our prayer too.

I imagine Heaven will be exactly like those moments of beautiful and intimate impromptu circles of friends in the middle of the parking lot singing songs of praise to the Lord in sweet fellowship. And it will be just as perfect as those moments. And those moments give me hope that snippets of Heaven can happen on earth too.