When you’re struggling to stay

by Erin Salmon

IMG_0173For the past several years, I have struggled tremendously to find my place in the world.

I thought I would figure it out when I went to Bible college, and while those years were the best of my life thus far, the textbooks never told me what I was supposed to do with my life. The daily chapel services offered little help in my quest to find out what my true meaning and purpose was. Sure, I had chosen a major and worked hard to complete my coursework, but I never quite found the prescription I was looking for.

I’ve battled long and hard with comparison. See, I am surrounded by the most beautiful people on a daily basis: people who are passionate about ending slavery and sex trafficking, people who minister to lost souls in the ghettos of Atlanta, who hold the hands of refugees and travel to distant corners of the earth, forsaking the privilege and comfort of North America in order to bring the most basic of those comforts to children with distended bellies and dusty bare feet. Some of my best friends are church planters and worship leaders and youth ministers. Even my husband is consistently praised for his amazing work on our church’s tech team.

And I have never felt called to any of that. In fact, the closest I’ve come to participating in foreign mission work is the pair of TOMS shoes I’m wearing today.

Maybe you see my dilemma.IMG_0176I’ve always been told that I am good at encouraging others, and deep down, I get incredible joy from watching other people excel in their passions as a result of my encouragement. And while my friends are champions of building each other up, I lament that most of the time I feel unworthy of their uplifting because I believe that my life does not hold as much significance and meaning as theirs. After all, they are going, and I am staying behind. At times, it has been easier to hide.

What I’m finding is that none of us are called to a life of hiding — but some of us are called to a life of staying. And just as it takes a strong person to pack up their lives and plant a church in another state or province or country, it takes an equally strong person to stay behind. Both are significant callings, meaningful ways to spend a life.

Recently, I have felt a tug on my heart towards hospitality. So I put on a brave face and created a Facebook event, inviting a small group of women over to our little house for finger food and fellowship. I wrote down a list of conversation points, opportunities to share what God is doing in each of our lives. And as the day grew closer, I have to admit, I was feeling nervous. At times, I was certain that no one would show up, or worse yet, they would show up and the bean dip would be cold and we would all just sit around twiddling our thumbs. Sure enough, as I was putting the chocolate chip cookies into the oven, four beautiful women pulled into the driveway.IMG_0182We ate and laughed and shared our joys and our worries, and together we worshipped a God who delights in accomplishing immeasurably more. I had spoken of what immeasurably more looked like for me in this season of my life: ministering to women through writing and speaking and opening my home, creating an environment where authenticity matters more than efficiency and nothing is ever wasted.

I dared to go out on a limb, and there it was, immeasurably more happening right in front of my eyes. And when they left, not only did I feel filled, but I found that I was fulfilling the purpose that I believe God has given me.

So I challenge us, shaky though we may be, to keep going out on limbs. Refuse to desecrate your calling and someone else’s calling by feeding the beast of comparison. Because no matter what you’ve been told, no matter what you may feel today, it takes guts to stay.


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Erin is a twentysomething clinger to grace, whose heartbeat is to create space for you to come just as you are. Erin and her husband live in Georgia, where they are actively involved in local ministry. She would love nothing more than to connect with you at erinsalmonwrites.com or on Twitter @erinmsalmon.


 

 

Removing the thorns

by Jenni DeWitt

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When I was a little girl, I was terrified that our house would catch on fire. I would lay awake for hours, staring at the ceiling, as the hot fear raced through my veins like the fires of my imagination.

Over the years, the fear shifted to bad grades and fear of failure, but it was always there. Then I started having children, and the anxiety exploded like a vicious weed.

Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word,  but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. (Mark 4:18-19)

In my heart, the word of God was choked with the thorns of anxiety. 

So I lived like that, captured in cycles of fear, until one day in 2012 when my 2-year-old son was diagnosed with leukaemia.

I was in shock as the anxiety threatened to overtake me. How could I ever survive all this fear?

But in the silence of my son’s hospital room, God spoke to me. Through His Word, He took my hand and helped me up. Then He showed me the story of Peter walking on water. Peter was fine at first, as He kept His eyes focused on Jesus.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30)

I began to understand that I was walking on the water of my anxiety and, just like Peter, I would start to sink if I took my eyes off Jesus. But that didn’t mean I would drown.

God was there in the middle of the storm. I could call out to Him, “Lord save me!” And he would come. He did come. He rescued me time after time as we waited for test results and watched our son fight for his life. 

Every time He rescued me with His peace that passes understanding, I could feel the thorns of anxiety being cut away from my heart one by one. 

In this way, over time, God tended my heart so that His word could fall on rich soil. 

“But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:20)


Is there a Bible verse that speaks to you with comfort in moments of great anxiety? Have you ever tried saying the verse out loud? Did it help?


View More: http://jjillphotography.pass.us/dewitt2014Jenni DeWitt is a recovering control freak who is discovering the value of rest and silent prayer in the midst of this rushed society. She is the author of two books — Forty Days and Why Won’t God Talk to Me? Jenni lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons. Her youngest son has been battling cancer since the age of two. Jenni loves to find Jesus in the everyday and writes about rejecting fear and choosing trust at Genuflected.com.