It Shouldn’t Look Like This

This shouldn’t be happening.

That shouldn’t have gone that way.

My life shouldn’t look like this.

How many of you have had these thoughts? I know I have, and I’ve had them a lot in the past two years. Maybe that job fell through. Maybe that friendship turned sour. Maybe you’re feeling the pressure of society to perform in a certain way. What do we do when we have these feelings? Maybe we turn to food. (I’m trying to change that–join me!) Maybe we turn to partying and drinking. But we usually end up turning to all the wrong things instead of turning to the One who could best help us navigate the it shouldn’t be like this moments.

And that is why I’m doing Proverbs 31 Ministries’ online Bible study It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way. The study begins on Monday, January 21st, but I’ve already started reading the book, and I already know that God brought me to this study.

So, I’d like to encourage you to join me. Every week, I’m going to write about the book and what I’ve learned, and I’ll offer up some questions–mainly from the book, but also ones I come across on my own. If you want to join in and get exclusive email reminders about the study and my favorite bits of wisdom, be sure to fill out the contact form and include your email.

If you’ve ever struggled with how to get past those it shouldn’t be this way seasons, this study is definitely for you. I hope you’ll join me!

The Arrival

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in sealing cloths, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angle a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” Luke 2:9-14

It’s the day we have been waiting for: Christmas. It is the day our Savior entered this world.

When the angels left the shepherds, the shepherds said “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this things that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they hurried there. How many of us hurry to God? I know I didn’t, and I still struggle to. It’s always been “but what if it doesn’t work out?” and “show me something first.” It really boils down to trust. Do we trust what He says and who He says He is? The shepherds trusted the word of the angels enough to go see Jesus for themselves. Maybe we should too.

God promised His people a fulfillment of His promise to Israel. He promised a Savior. The thing is that He never told them when. And, I don’t know about you, but that’s when I start to get frustrated: when I feel God has promised something, but I don’t see a fulfillment of that promise when or how I expect to. I get so caught up in the fact that it isn’t going my way that I forget to give Him the glory for what is.

And that is what this season has called me to do.

We have to celebrate the arrival of Jesus not just today, but every day. After reading through these passages, I feel called to read my Bible each night. It’s something I should be doing, but I’ve neglected. I am also going to re-begin my gratitude log, but spend a dedicated time to it each day. Has this season of advent called you to anything?

Remember: God works in His ways, which are always better than ours. If He has promised you something, it will come. In the meantime, look around and praise Him for the things you do have. It will often adjust your perspective.

I pray that your Christmas brings you peace and joy.

Different Versions

Have you ever had an experience with a friend, but they seem to remember it differently than you? That’s how I’m feeling as I am reading about the birth of Jesus.

Luke doesn’t spend a whole lot of time on His birth. In fact, Luke 1:39-56 is all about Mary visiting Elizabeth while Elizabeth was pregnant with John and Mary worshipping God. There are only 20 verses, Luke 2:1-20, that talk about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Needless to say, even after looking at footnotes and related passages, I left these passages feeling a little disappointed. Advent is about waiting expectantly, hopefully, with joy, and I felt…underwhelmed.

So in my desire to more fully know this story, I turned to another gospel: the book of Matthew. There is a significant difference between these two gospels, one that I had forgotten when I took on this endeavor, but one that is interesting to see.

Matthew 1:18 through Matthew 2:23 is the birth of Jesus, His family’s escape to Egypt, and establishing their home in Nazareth. Luke doesn’t cover any of that. I don’t know about you, but one of the things I remember most about the story of Christ’s birth is the star, the angel coming to the shepherds, and the wise men. Matthew covers all of that.

But what I find really intriguing is that while Luke writes about Mary’s visit to Elizabeth and the reaction to the pregnant Mary by Elizabeth’s unborn child (John), Matthew writes about Joseph’s struggle with the news of his betrothed’s pregnancy. Joseph was concerned about what he would do with this woman who was pregnant though they were not yet together. And in his worry and attempt to solve it on his own–by “putting her away secretly” (Luke 1:19)–an angel appeared to him and told him not to be afraid, that this was by design of the Lord.

Joseph is described as a just man. According to a Word Wealth section in my Bible, this description means the following: “upright, blameless, righteous, conforming to God’s law and man’s. In the NT, it is used primarily of persons who correspond to the divine standard of right made possible through justification and sanctification.” So, Joseph was a man of God, by God’s own definition, and even he was afraid.

How many of us have gone through a situation where we have no idea how it started or what will come of it, but we are afraid? Maybe we are afraid of what others will say. Maybe we are afraid of what we will be like when it’s over. Maybe we hope that by hiding it away, it will go away. And have you ever wished God would just come down to you and say “Don’t worry–this is by design” followed by specifically the good that will come from it? I know I have. Heck, I still do.

But that’s the incredible thing about Christ’s birth: He is the way God told us not to be afraid. And I was reminded of that when I read this passage. That is what this season is about: waiting for Jesus without fear.

We are going to be afraid. We are going to go through all the possibilities in our minds of how to solve our problem. We are going to wonder. But God is telling us that we should not be afraid, that if we just wait we will see God with us.

I Want Your Advice

I’ve decided to begin writing a book.

As I mentioned, I was sort of bullied in high school and teased because I was viewed as “innocent.” And if you remember anything about high school, it’s not cool to be innocent or naive at that age. That innocence and curiosity has been questioned on a number of occasions, and people have thought it is an act and that I was playing dumb for attention. It really affected the way I viewed myself, and it’s taken a long time for me to be okay with who I am.

So I want to help other girls.

I’m beginning the journey of writing a book on this topic, for girls who are like me. I want them to know it’s okay to be that way, it’s okay to question, it’s okay to not fit in. I want them to know they are not alone and that they will come into their own. They will survive and they will flourish.

But to begin, I need your help. I have a few questions that I would love your input on. You are welcome to comment below or email me, whichever you are most comfortable with: digitalinkandparchment@gmail.com

  1. What advice would the current you give to high school you?
  2. What is one thing you wish you would have known in high school?
  3. Were you teased in high school? Why? And how did that affect you?
  4. Have you grown in your faith since high school? How?
  5. How has God moved in your life since?
  6. What do you think high school girls need to know that maybe they don’t?
  7. Any other comments.

I love the community in the blogging world, and I hope you are willing to share just a bit of your story so we can help others.