I have been looking for words for this post all week but every time they fell short. How can I explain everything that has gone on in the last week or two? There has been good and there has been bad, but it didn’t all fit together in a nice neat blog. Until today.
Now, I’m not saying that the following paragraphs and truths will be neat. A lot of what I’ve been through this week has been messy and uncomfortable. But what holds it all together is Jesus. Quite literally He holds it all. He holds me. And just so there’s not guessing about it, that is the point of this post: that through it all we are held in the arms of the One who holds the entire world. It doesn’t matter the circumstances or the situations or even if we realize that He’s there. He is always and forever holding us up.
Jesus holds you in the pain.
Pain. Hurt. None of us like it. It’s uncomfortable, it smells bad, and it’s just better to shove it down, convince ourselves that it’s not really there and just move on with life. That’s what we’re told a lot of the time, isn’t it? Suck it up and move on. Life goes on. “It came to pass” can sometimes be encouraging only because it reminds us that this hurt and pain are temporary. However, too often we take that encouraging phrase and run with it, skipping over the hurt and trying to get to the point where everything’s okay again.
God’s been dealing a lot with me and my hurt lately. A few months ago a specific hurt stirred up and I was able to deal with it, even write a note explaining what I was feeling to the person I had been hurt by, and I thought I was done. The hurt disappeared and I felt good. Little did I know that that was one instance, one little branch of a deeper hurt I’ve basically lived with all my life: Rejection. Feeling left out, overlooked. Feeling unwanted.
My greatest longing and my biggest life hurt are both tied to the same word: chosen. I know that Jesus has chosen me. I try to let that truth live in my heart, but sometimes it just seems flat. Sure Jesus has chosen me, but there is a lot of hurt tied up in the many times I’ve been the last one picked, or not picked at all. It hurts. And it’s taken me weeks to realize that that’s okay.
It is okay to hurt.
We have wounds and scars and memories that are there because pain was caused. The hurt is going to be there because we live in a fallen world. The choice comes in how to handle the hurt. Do we hide it away, ignore it, and unknowingly let it fester and eat away at us? Or do we bring the filthy stuff out into the light and let Jesus take care of it.
When I started this process with Him a few weeks ago, I didn’t understand why my healing was progressing as it was. It was slow and tedious and it felt like I just kept going back to the same things. All I could see was the ugliness of the hurt, how messy it was and how much I did not want it anymore. But just like so many other things, hurt is a process. It is a slow peeling of the layers to find the core of it. It is dealing with each hurt separately and letting Jesus heal us in His time. And it does take time. Perhaps there are hurts that are dealt with quickly, but others might be a constant life battle to keep letting Jesus heal the hurt as we focus on the truth of who He is and who we are in Him.
One truth that has comforted me through the hurt and the pain is the reality that Jesus knows pain. He is acquainted with it quite well. While the people around us may not understand and may tell us to suck it up and move on, Jesus knows. He knows how our hearts hurt. He knows the familiar pain. And He holds us up and carries us through it.
Jesus holds you in death.
I hate death. It hurts and I don’t want to deal with it. I don’t know how to deal with it. Yet in the last month we’ve had two people close to our family die from illnesses. It’s hard. I’ve cried for those even closer than I was. I can’t even imagine what they are going through. The ugly reality is that death is a part of this world. We will face it. We will have to deal with it. We will grieve in ways that may not make sense to those around us. We will do things that seem completely insane, but we just need to do them. We will cry and hide away. We will try to push past it so as not to have to face the hurt.
And through it all, Jesus holds us.
On days when it feels like we can’t take another step, when the grief is so utterly paralyzing, when we’re not sure we will ever find our way out, Jesus holds us. He lets us weep messy, snotty tears into His shoulder. He holds us and cries with us. He knows pain. He knows the sting of death. And when we are able to hear it, He reminds us that He has overcome, that for those who know Him, death has no victory.
I know that those we lost in the last several weeks are rejoicing in the presence of Jesus even now. They are happy and whole and well and perfect. They are seeing Him face to face. But there are days where we wish them back anyway. One more hug, one more conversation, one more meal, one more “I love you.”
Death is hard. It hurts. But even in the grief, we are held by the One with pierced hands.
Jesus holds you in the letting go.
This has been another hard one because there is something I’ve held on to for a while now. It’s a dream I still think God will fulfill, but I’ve been asked to let go, to stop trying to make it happen on my time or in my own way. That dream became my focus, my satisfaction. In a way, that dream coming true defined who I was.
“Let it go.”
Once again, this isn’t letting go Jazmin’s way, but Jesus’ way. If it were my choice I would toss the dream all together: Forget about it, Lord. I’ve invested too much of myself into it and was hurt in the process. It didn’t go how I planned. And if you’re asking me, Lord, to just let it go and let you do it in your time, well I might as well just walk away from it all together because it’s not going to happen.
Arrogant much, Jaz? If I can’t make it happen when and how I want it, then I don’t want it? Ouch! Thankfully the Lord is patient with me and isn’t some genie who has to fulfill my every bidding. He knows what’s best for me, and quite honestly, He’s right (shocker!). The dream became my god and everything tied to it. I was too involved and Jesus was being pushed further and further down my list of priorities. I needed to let go and let Him handle it in His time.
I can’t say that the letting go has been easy. There are days when God asks me to do something I don’t understand. There are other days He just calls me to come sit with Him, be with Him in whatever way I choose. There is freedom in letting go and letting God. And in this too, He holds us close, whispering His love, His beautiful plans, and His desire for us to be with Him right where we are.
Jesus holds you as the seasons change.
School has been my life for the last twenty-two years. From kindergarten all the way through high school it was required. Then there’s college. And today I sit one week away from marching into the gym in my cap and gown, prepared to accept my degree. I’m completing college. I’m done. Done with this season of life.
For so long my life has been segmented into years. Four years in Kentucky while my dad went through seminary. Four years in Ohio while my sister and I finished up high school. Four years at a university studying teaching. (I’m sensing a theme here!) And now what? I’m looking ahead and I see nothing but open space. The big wide world is available to me. I can go where I want. I can do what I want. And in some ways it’s intimidating.
Do I have a plan? Sure. But God might decide to switch it up a bit. I’m going home, I’m getting my teaching license and I’m applying for every job that I can in hopes of being a full-time teacher in the fall.
One season’s ending and I’m preparing for the next. And as exciting as it is, it’s a little hard to process. This transition is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. This is it. The “real world” is coming. I’m excited because I believe that God has a place for me in Kentucky. I’m excited because these four years have confirmed what I’m created for, and I’m ready to see where God has me and how He uses me. But it’s sad too.
For the last four years this university has been a second home, my peers and the staff my family. It’s sad leaving. It’s exciting seeing where God is taking all of us. It’s a little scary because keeping in touch will require being more intentional and getting together will probably be less frequent.
It’s exciting because I know I’ve gained the skills I need to be a teacher.
Yesterday was my final day of student teaching and the kids and my teachers threw me a surprise party complete with a cake and a teacher bag full of goodies for my classroom. They also gave me a book of notes written by the kids. I felt so loved. Those notes were so touching. Not only did they learn material and have fun doing it, but some kids said that their lives were impacted, that they believe in themselves a little more because of me and the encouragement I gave. Their writing was a lot better too than when I first met them! I couldn’t help but smile.
Because of all of that, my leaving isn’t so bitter. It’s sad and I’ll miss the kids. My teachers were great and so helpful and encouraging. But I can leave because I know that I did my job and I did it well. I accomplished my purposes for being there and I know that I am capable of doing the same for my own class.
So amidst the tears and the brilliant smiles as this season ends, I know that I am held in the arms of Jesus. I also know that I have been truly blessed during my time here. Words cannot explain how grateful I am. God is so good!
Wherever you find yourself–whether dealing with the hard and painful stuff, or enjoying the season blessing where you are; if a season is ending or a new one is beginning; if you are hurting or happy; if you feel like God is near or far away–please know that you are held by the loving arms of your Savior. He knows exactly where you are and what you’re feeling. He knows you. He wants you just as you are. He has made a way for you to live right where you are by resting in His capable, strong, loving arms. May you be blessed in knowing His presence today. And remember that Jesus will never leave you.
Live in the moment!
Live in His love!