Gear up

Not too long ago, I had taken a personality test titled, “Myers Briggs.” Based off the questions that are centered around the way we uniquely respond to emotionally charged situations, our views concerning ethics and morals, what we value most in our lives, and so on, the test sorts you into one of the many personality types depending on the answers given. If those who’re reading this post haven’t gotten a chance to take the test yet, or haven’t so much as heard of Myers Briggs, I highly recommend that you try it out. From personal experience, I was shocked to find out that this test had my personality traits down pat, to the point where it’s almost eerie how accurate the results turned out to be.

My personality type result was “INFJ” (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging.) Here’s an excerpt from another blog post from a site called, “INFJ Ramblings” that sums up a big portion of what my personality type is all about:

“What is important to understand as INFJs is that our happiness depends not only on learning to understand why we react, think and do what we do. But also how we can predict and change our behavior accordingly to benefit us. Life can be more difficult for INFJs then many other personalities at times, and that’s why this is even more important for us. From what I have learned it is crucial for INFJs to start understanding and taking charge of how our emotions affect us. INFJs are a very feeling oriented type of personality, we are deeply emotional and most of our problems in life will relate to this heightened emotional sensitivity.”

I’ve always remembered having very strong emotional responses, seemingly stronger than what I’ve heard a lot of other people speak of when it came to describing the way they emotionally and mentally reacted during unsettling situations that would get just about anyone’s heart racing. I will confess that my emotions are often deeply felt, more so when i’m face-to-face with the not so good unfortunate things we all have to deal with from time to time. The strategic ways we keep our emotions at bay can vary, some naturally having an easier time doing so than others. I believe myself to be the kind of person, due to my personality type and the way I handle hardships, that has to make more of a conscious effort not to dig myself into a deep hole of defeat, so deep that I cannot easily climb out of and or “snap out of” my varying emotional reactions to life’s difficulties.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6: 14 – 17.

I firmly believe that Satan takes joy in spiritually attacking us when we’re the most vulnerable. I believe that’s when he enjoys to attack us the most. When our emotions seem all out of whack from whatever we’ve been dealing with, and we feel like the weight of the world is on our very shoulders, like the topping on the cake, Satan yearns for us to dig our own graves by accepting the feeling of defeat he hurls at us from the issues we’re dealing with at the time. He’ll throw all he can at us because he knows that we’re already weakened as is, so why not take on the opportunity to possibly wipe us out once and for all? We can’t let the enemy win, even when we’re at wits end. It’s tempting to throw in the towel when we’re already emotionally drained. We start to convince ourselves that there’s no way to struggle free from our overbearing emotions and thoughts. But that’s what the armor of God, the most indestructible protection available for us, is for.

I want to get to a place where I don’t have to “gear up” when hardships come my way. I want to already be prepared for whatever the enemy has in store for me. And although the strongest of spiritual warriors may forget about how powerful God’s armor really is, the armor never fails to protect us in the midst of the greatest spiritual battles we’ll ever have to endure. God knows beforehand what we’ll have to go through during our walk w/ Him. He’s just waiting to see if we’ll remember the gear he’s provided for us.

I picture a mighty spiritual warrior leading his sanctified army into battle with Satan. Satan unexpectedly puts up a stronger fight than the spiritual warrior thought he would–the warrior soon sees that he and his army are vastly outnumbered by Satan’s legion that’s far greater in number. Satan proclaims that there’s nothing more that the warrior can do at this point–the odds of the warrior succeeding is zero to none. But then, the warrior realizes that he is not fully equipped yet to go up against Satan’s trickery. Once the warrior gears up, making sure to put on each and every piece of armor God has to offer, Satan sees that the warrior was a force to be reckoned with all along. The mere sight of the armor the spiritual warrior wields could make Satan, who comes off to be all high and mighty, tremble with fear. That analogy of mine comes to mind when Satan finally backs down and yet again becomes aware of the fact that we are God’s warriors who all have armor of our own–we’ve just got to train ourselves to use it to the best of our abilities, especially when we feel like there’s nothing more we can do to lessen our misfortunes.

Often, our first reactions to the mishaps in our lives is to allow our fleshy emotions to get the best of us, and to proceed to go on with our lives unprotected by what else may come our way. When we’re mentally and emotionally at our weakest, that’s a green light for Satan to fight against us with all his might. We can’t let him control our flesh by giving into pity parties, dwelling on self-doubt and uselessness, no matter how tempting it is to just sit back and let the world chew us up and spit us out. We must consciously continue to fight against Satan’s scheme to drain us dry. I pray that we all come to see that our greatest battles are not with our flesh or the flesh of others around us, but with the enemy. God, help me to turn to You in times of trouble. Help me to see that I am more than a conquerer, even when I feel as though I don’t have enough willpower to be one. Amen.

– RR

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Never Alone

As a teenager, I was very shy. The only time I recall that I wasn’t all that timid was during my time in kindergarten and elementary school. During my childhood I was far more extroverted. One example of how much of a social butterfly I had grown to be as a kid was when my mother took me to shopping malls that included an indoor playground. By the time I spent at least an hour or so running around the place I never failed to return to my mother, seated nearby in the mall’s cafeteria, to introduce her to the many new friends I had made. My trips to the mall as a youngster was no more than the tip of the iceberg of my time as an extrovert. I could go on and on about other instances of me going up to strangers, whether it was to pet their dogs as the self proclaimed dog lover I am to this day, or going as far as to comfortably sit on the laps of random ladies out in public. As far fetched as it may seem, It’s all true. I was unafraid of making my presence known to everybody around me back then.

By the time I transitioned into middle school as a teen I was the complete opposite of the young girl I had started out as. Rather than trying to make my presence known to those around me, my goal in middle school was to hide myself from wandering eyes. To this day, I believe my desire to “blend in” with the crowd was a result of the bullying I had endured in school at that time. The bullying I was subjected to by boys I didn’t all know by name led me to hide myself within the sanctuary of my bedroom, often turning down opportunities to attend parties or to spend time with friends.

High school was a time of redemption; I had made up for the time I spent at home when I could’ve been out and about with my peers. I was apart of a pretty good circle of friends, I was invited to and attended more parties, I got involved in my school’s art club, and the bullying I had endured in the past was absent from the time I was a freshmen to the day I graduated as a senior. To this day I consciously try to reach out more to all who I meet as a college student, opening the door to form more lifelong connections. I’ve already made a decision to attempt to get more involved on campus as well, especially as a commuter student who’s not exposed to all that goes on after I leave school for the day.

There’s obviously nothing the least bit wrong with wanting to go out with friends, attend parties, join clubs/organizations, and so on. But alone time, especially with God, should be considered essential whether we’re extroverted, introverted, or somewhere in between. Sometimes I slip into this slump about how much time I “wasted” during my teenaged years by being behind doors, blaming my bullies for lowering my self esteem and keeping me from having the courage to form more connections. But looking back on the time I spent being alone in middle school, I was able to find myself. I feel like we can subconsciously desire to seek the company of others, while not paying much mind to get to know ourselves and what we want out of life aside from what’s going in the lives of our peers.

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

God wants us to get to know Him as much as we want to get to know anybody else. It’s easy to get caught up in our social lives to the point where we think of God as a third wheel we haven’t gotten to know all that well rather than our very best of friends. People inevitably travel in and out of our lives for countless reasons, But God will be there for us until the end. He’s not a seasonal friend–he’s a lifelong soul mate that will welcome us back with open arms, despite however long we’ve been absent from His company. We should yearn to spend time with God as much as we do with our peers. I still struggle with feeling like i’m missing out if I don’t mingle with my friends as much as I usually do because I have to study more than I expected, or if an inconvenience comes up and demolishes my original plans to go out, or if I feel too burned out to carry on a conversation. But in spite of this, we must make an effort to silence our phones long enough to listen to what God wants us to hear and know. Setting aside a day or two or as little as half an hour for “God time,” each and every week works wonders. Who knows what God will reveal to us if we a dedicate so much as an hour or so of our busy lives to Him.

I pray that I don’t overlook the One who I need to give the most attention to daily. Even if I dedicate half an hour or no more than five minutes to you Lord, I want to spend every moment that’s available to me in Your restful presence. It’s easy to get tied up in my day-to-day schedule, simply going with the flow of whatever comes my way. But as I wander further from spending time with You, guide me back with Your calming, gentle voice. Allow me to take time out of my day to block out all of the external hustle and bustle around me to welcome You into my heart.

– RR

A New Dawn, A New Semester

It’s officially the start of my fall semester of college.  This year i’ll be starting my junior year.  I can hardly believe it.  College graduates have often told me that the time will fly by quicker than i’ll ever expect, but I didn’t really think so until recently.  It did indeed literally feel like it was just yesterday that I had been attending my first year Orientations, walking throughout campus to my classes, and enjoying meals along w/ snacks seated around fellow students in the campus Cafeteria as a freshmen.  I’d consider my freshmen year at OU a year of transformation for me not only academically but spiritually.

Before my entrance into college I had specifically asked God to allow the Holy Spirit to lead me outside my comfort zone, especially for my first year as a college student.  I was leaving behind a lot of people from high school that hadn’t been the best influences for me, therefore I wanted to be able to meet a new inner circle of friends to start my college experience off on a positive note.  I had also made a promise to myself: I promised that i’d ask God to expand my inner circle with more Godly folks, and then not allow anxiety to take over while I wait for my request to manifest.  During my freshmen year orientation I heard a voice within me say, “In order for Me to make this request of yours a reality I need you to put more action behind your faith in Me. You’ll have to step far out of your comfort zone to make this happen. Understand?”  I humbly accepted the way God intended for me to receive what I asked for.  I willingly gave my anxiety about when and how my prayer would be answered to God and kept on telling myself, Lord, I know you’ve got my back.  I don’t know how you’re going to do it but i know you have me covered. 

“Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds!” Luke 12:24 NLT.

God came through exactly like He said he would, quicker than I ever expected Him to.  I was prepared to establish the connections that started coming to me freshmen year at least by my junior year of college, but people unexpectedly flowed into my life way before then.  Allowing the Holy Spirit to take charge above my understanding and my (so i thought) limited capability certainly got the job done.  The Holy Spirit had urged me to pick one woman out of a crowd of hundreds of freshmen that were registering for first year orientation, and told me that she was the door that would help open me up to a transformed spiritual experience.  I did what I was told and never imagined being able to openly talk about God around people my age in the end, especially in a secular college setting–yet it happened and it is still happening.

“Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.” Matthew 12:21 NIV.

That’s one of the many things that amazes me most about God.  To this day I consider myself not the kind of person to often randomly go up to strangers to introduce myself, along w/ striking up small talk.  But by doing that single action outside of my comfort zone, and by giving my anxiety to Him about the situation as a sacrifice, He did wonders for me.

 As I go into my junior year of college I am determined to continue to let the Holy Spirit rather than my fears or anxieties lead me through my semesters.  I’m proclaiming that my junior year of college will be better than my past two years of classes.  I’m proclaiming that I will allow myself to be lead by my faith alone when my situation calls for that or I’ll allow myself to sit back and let God work due to situations that I’ll have no power over.  I’ll let God be the center of all I do as I go through my second to last year of college schooling. Amen.

– RR

More of HIM, Less of Us

One day I was scrolling away on my iPhone when I received a text from *Casey, one of the friends I met on campus a year or so ago through a Christian organization.   The text read something along the lines of, I was thinking of you and I was wondering if you’d like to apply as a volunteer for a Christian youth day camp. – Casey.  The day camp Casey was referring to provided an opportunity to be a paid volunteer that travels to different cities in Michigan in order to mentor elementary school children and teach them about the word of God.  Although I replied to Casey’s text by asking for more information about the position at the camp,  I admit that I originally didn’t have much interest in the job offer from the start.  By all means the position did seem promising, based on what I had read about it so far, but at the same time I didn’t feel led to accept Casey’s offer.

But after weighing my pros and cons about the matter, it hit me.  Although I wasn’t getting any sense of spiritual guidance about the matter, I considered the fact that volunteering at a day camp such as the one Casey suggested would open the door to gaining more Christ-like connections with fellow volunteers.  Even though the experience of teaching little kids about God could be a life-changing experience in itself, I admit that I was most attracted to the job by the kind of volunteers I thought would be present there.  This job got me thinking:  A Christian day camp means lots of Christian volunteers around my age, and a greater chance of befriending like minded young adults like myself.  Not only will I be mentoring young kids, but better yet, I’ll have a chance to socialize with people who are more like me spiritually.  Maybe I’ll meet a lot more friends there, or maybe I’ll meet my Godly future husband at that!  Who knows what could be in store for me at the day camp!  These were the kinds of sales-pitchy thoughts that were on replay in my mind as I decided whether or not to accept Casey’s offer.  

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV

The more I thought of my personal gain about the situation, the more I spiraled into making the volunteer position less about kids being led to Christ and more about me.  I had to ask myself – Am I doing this for the socialization aspect of the job and would I be just as excited about the mentorship alone?  I decided to decline Casey’s offer and thanked her for letting me know about it anyway.  Situations like the one at hand serve as good reality checks.  As daughters of God we are called to serve Him first and foremost.  Whatever secondary benefits that come with that servitude are blessings in disguise that go along with choosing to submit to Him above all else.  We shouldn’t give into our flesh by focusing only on what we get out of the deal.  That kind of thinking steers us away from not only being a blessing to others for the glory of God, but also causes the motives behind what we do for Christ to become twisted and contorted.  If we always focus on ourselves, and disguise our twisted, contorted motives as “kingdom work”, we will not be in a position to receive the abundant harvest God has in store for our lives.

Have you ever placed what your flesh yearns for above what God desires for your life?  Have you ever considered accomplishing a “good deed” for reasons that didn’t directly point back to the Lord?  Today, ask God to set your heart on what glorifies Him and what makes him happy–not vice versa.   If we teach ourselves to honor God through our good deeds, the rewards and blessings he’ll give us in the long run could never hold a candle to what we try to accomplish for ourselves alone.

– RR

WELCOME!

Hello, world! Rachel here. As of next month i’ll be typing up monthly posts to kick off the grand opening of this God centered blog. I’m very excited to see how my posts will impact the lives of fellow women of God, and also those who have recently decided to dedicate their lives to Him. I look forward to receiving feedback and beholding the spiritual lives of women as a whole transform for the glory God. I hope my posts will help strengthen relationships with Christ and lead others toward Him, and i also hope that my posts will reveal what God has in store for my own spiritual journey as well. With God all things are possible; I believe there to be great things in store for my spiritual reflections and for those who will be impacted by my reflections. I can’t wait for what lies ahead for the future of this blog and all who subscribe. God bless and stay tuned!

– RR