Monday, December 4th, 2017
It’s the single thing I think about the very most. Love. All kinds of love. Deep, meaningful relationships. It’s the prayer that’s always pouring from my lips.
I have just been with myself for a while. I live alone, and there certainly isn’t a revolving door of boys positioned in the front of my little apartment. I still dream of the girls who will stand on my side, girls I aspire to be more like, girls who can push me further in the direction I’m chasing and, when needed, girls who can grab my shoulders and turn me around.
I’m hesitant to use the term season, simply because I don’t think God gives us seasons to prepare for other seasons. I don’t think we were designed to live waiting for a better time to come around, nor do I think it’s fair to slap a label on all the things that fill these spans of time. I think the obstacles I approach today will help me continue my walk down this path – tonight, tomorrow, and the day after that. Joy is now, not the husband and kids and big, white house ten years from now.
But, girl, I feel you. Waiting for the right boy to come knocking, watching all your 20-something friends find the loves of their lives. Seeing photos of sweet friends on social media. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t doubt that the Lord had something so exciting and beautiful waiting for me every now and again.
I’m often quite negative in my loneliness. Community is such a huge part of walking with the Lord, and I wonder why I haven’t been gifted the great, but often undervalued, luxury. I find myself walking further from his Word when I don’t have people to push me in that direction. I find myself questioning his timing. When I don’t have those people, I often don’t feel God.
In Philippians 4, Paul says, “for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”
Now, Paul was imprisoned at the time, not on this great search for love, but I still think there is some truth to be gained. Girl, God’s got you. In God’s will and with His strength, we have the strength to carry on. I don’t believe my desire for these relationships with simply vanish. I think these are things I will continue to pray for for the rest of my life. But I believe He gives us the strength in our circumstances.
Contentment is not a combination of the emotions your feeling tonight, nor is it the circumstance your in. It’s a lifestyle. It’s waking up every morning and not mournfully looking at the long day of school and the people you don’t have, it’s waking up and saying “Thank you, Jesus.”
And, more than anything, I believe when we are content, and we know our value in Him, and we trust that He will place the most beautiful things in our path, the passions and the desires and the goals just grow. And I believe, then, we can just run.
Sunday, August 6th, 2017
While running Little City Magazine and sharing the brilliant thoughts of over 50 young women is simply the greatest blessing and a joy I never thought I would come by in this lifetime, it also takes a toll on my own writing and the confidence I have in putting words on a page. And the more words I read, the more thoughts I have swirling in my head, and it becomes difficult to put a pin in one. But one thing that has been on my mind a little more often recently has been the idea of finding our calling.
I was talking to someone (who happened to be a crazy cool nonprofit founder) recently about the idea of not only grasping onto the plans God has for you, but also having the confidence to ceaselessly pursue them. A lofty topic, but one that fascinates me endlessly. This idea that people can experience things that push them to pursue the life God destined them for. This idea that through encounters with other people, through feelings in their gut, or through dreams that approach in the middle of the night, we can grab onto our calling.
And, to be honest, I pray for the sound of this calling to grow just loud enough for me to hear it nearly every night. Yes, when I slowly soak in a Michigan Avenue covered in Christmas lights, I feel showered in the comfort of knowing I am exactly where I am supposed to be. When I wake up each morning to post Little City Mag’s new article or Badala’s new restock on social media, I take so much joy in what I’m putting out into the world. I know what I love to do, but I often fail to be sure that I’m following the path the Lord wants me to take, and I’m not positive that’s an apprehension that will ever go away entirely.
I came across this verse in 1 Peter earlier this week that reads, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10).
And, in reading this, I simply felt this weight lifted. This weight of I’m not doing what I am supposed to be doing just lifted off my shoulders.
Because what you pursue in this lifetime doesn’t have to come from a heavenly voice shouting down to you. We all have things that we love to do, and odds are, you are probably already doing it. You are probably already picking up that camera everyday or shooting a basketball in the hoop at the end of the driveway. You probably already know what you love to do, and you can probably already point out the personality traits and skills and aspirations built into your being. And His varied grace gives us the privilege of uniqueness and the opportunity to bring something different to the world than the people before you and the ones that will follow.
I think God created each of us with innate gifts, and I think He designed our lives long before our existence began. And while I wish as much as the next person that I had a direct line to God, I think we are designed to pursue the things we love, the things the Lord implanted inside of us relentlessly and for the betterment of the Kingdom. And I think that’s our calling.
Friday, June 9th, 2017
I’ve mentioned similar thoughts before, but over the past school year, I felt my heart tug towards a new path. The creation of online content and the development of social and digital strategy have been kind of the crux of my career aspirations. As I pursued an internship with an ethical startup and began working with nonprofits throughout Chicago, I saw how this interest and the skill set my college studies will leave me with could be utilized for something so much greater. And I started to feel like I was supposed to serve abroad. Like I had done all I could do for Chicago’s homeless population and the kids in the Chicago Public Schools system. It was time for me to do something greater.
And then it happened. Around the end of April I was offered the opportunity to serve as a social media intern for a nonprofit in Jinja, Uganda for the month of July. And I kind of felt like I was living a dream. It’s a Christian organization, and their efforts are ones that I am so passionate about. It was perfect.
But I turned it down. Being a late add, I was given a week to give my final answer. I just knew that I couldn’t come to a decision that I was completely sound with in seven days. I knew there were a handful of things I would miss at home during this already fairly eventful summer. I had never been oversees, let alone in a third world country. I didn’t know what it meant to commit 30 days of my life to serving women and children in an African nation. While I don’t believe we are ever fully ready for anything and that should never stop us from pursuing greater things, I simply felt it wasn’t my time yet.
However, I knew the end of May would bring a trip to another developing country – the Dominican Republic. Being that my dad has business ventures there, my family picked this country as our summer vacation spot. Our plans included mostly of staying on the grounds of our middle class resort. However, between commuting around our various destinations and dune buggy-ing through the countryside, I knew the glimpse I was going to get of the Dominican people was either going to leave me with a feeling of assuredness and hopefulness for all that I can contribute through nonprofit work or a feeling of being incredibly overwhelmed, and instead hopeless that I won’t be able to tackle a nation that carries the weight of the term “third world.”
And what I ended up feeling was definitely leaning towards that of the earlier mentioned thoughts. But the Dominican was certainly different than I had imagined. I imagined a destitution unlike anything I had seen before. I imagined scenes of painful poverty and emotional turmoil. And while it was certainly not a country full of middle class citizens, and I definitely did not see every inch of this nation, I couldn’t help but repeat over and over again, “This is like Chicago.”
I walk by homeless people every day. I watch the devaluing of human beings on the sidewalks of, what I would deem, one of the greatest cities in the world every day. Certainly, the surroundings differ slightly, but the suffering remains the same. The scenes of suffering and poverty and injustice in Chicago are no different than the scenes of suffering and poverty and injustice in a third world country.
This particular moment captured in the photograph above is one that stood out to me. Several people were gathered around these beautiful caves – snapping photos with our iPhones, bantering about the long-awaited arrival of lunchtime, strapping on our backpacks before we hit the next tourist destination. And, in the midst, there was this woman and her two little boys. It was almost like they were invisible. They sat and watched us move about. But we acted as though they weren’t even there. This little boy was no different than the man sitting on the corner of Michigan and Pearson with his cardboard sign. When we walk city streets and dirt roads on a platform of ignorance, we dehumanize them all the same.
I don’t have a solution to poverty, and my views on social justice vary a little from that of your typical millennial. However, I think it’s important to note that you don’t have to visit the Dominican Republic or Uganda or another developing country to seek change. While I look forward to pursuing nonprofit work abroad someday, bettering our cities and improving the lives of the people around us is not something that is reserved for a life-changing mission trip on the other side of the world. These injustices are happening in our backyards, and we have the power to disrupt the system of social injustice every day.
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