Our church has been focusing lately on listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. It’s basically every Christian’s superpower – the voice of the Holy Spirit. There have been individuals who have come into great wealth by praying fervently and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit to guide their business transactions. Others have avoided potentially fatal situations by following the leading of the Holy Spirit. Chances are you don’t fall in either of those categories, but you still have that superpower.
Over the past few days, thoughts have been marinating in my mind about a certain cloud – a weight, a heaviness – that seems to call my shoulder home. I can distinctly recall thinking and cynically snickering to myself as I walked up my three flights of stairs with all of my groceries (because, #onetripordie), this is like every day I come home from work, carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I remember flipping from my left side to my ride side in bed over and over whispering to myself, “Why does it seem like the past few years, I’ve been struggling?” I even sat down and went through my life from January 2014 until now, detailing each struggle that I went through: depression, recovery, heaviness, loss of relationships, recovery, spiritual attacks, joblessness, hopelessness, weariness, more spiritual attacks, severing of relationships, and now back to this mist of heaviness. There were long periods of time where I would cry every couple of days, simply because it became too heavy to carry. And there were times when my only reprieve was behind the lids of my eyes. Continue reading “Purpose in Pain”
As my husband and I prepare to build our first home, I am reminded of the children’s song “Don’t Build Your House on the Sandy Land” by Public Domain, cautioning us that though we may build a pretty house, unless it’s built on the Rock (with Him as our firm foundation), we will have to rebuild. This reminder has set me to thinking about how often we build the things of life on a whim, especially in this age of immediate gratification and impulse. Oh how I have had to learn this lesson, time and time again!
We are born into a culture of practices and expectations. A fact that as a young child and teenager had never entered my mind. And then I married a southerner.
At nineteen, I married that southerner, an older man of twenty-three! I was excited, yet anxious, as we traveled to Mississippi for our first family holiday as a married couple. The setting was my husband’s grandmother’s very small farmhouse in rural, very rural, Mississippi.
Wanting to show my willingness to be a helper, I wisely watched to see what my role would be. Immediately the men took their seats at the large circular table in the kitchen. There was chatter by the men about hunting, planting, and the weather. There were bowls, pots, and pans all around the kitchen. There was not a shred of counter left uncovered – they even had homemade yeast rolls on top of the refrigerator.
As I waited, I observed the women fixing plates. I found this odd since the men had sat prior to preparing their plates. It quickly became apparent the women were fixing plates for their husbands! This had never been part of my cultural experience, but I followed their lead. The smells were so enticing and I was starving, so when the men were served, I assumed we would fix our plates.
I spent a large amount of my adult years limiting the amount of friendships I developed. At some point, (I’m not sure when) I decided that I could only have 2 or 3 close friends at a time. I would say “I prefer quality over quantity” or “There’s no way you can have real friendships with so many people.” I’m an only child, so I’m very comfortable being alone. I actually need alone time in order to be at my best. Because I’m comfortable being alone, I convinced myself I didn’t need to enlarge my friendship circle. I couldn’t see the benefits of having several close friendships. I thought I was satisfied with my quality few.
One of the ways I limited my number of friendships was avoiding being vulnerable. There were very few people who had the opportunity to see the real Chrystol. I kept my heart very well guarded. Due to my insecurities, I didn’t think most people would accept me if they really knew who I was. My lack of intimate friendships wasn’t due to the lack of trying on other people’s part. Women would try to befriend me. They would talk to me about any and everything, sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings and I’d share just enough to appease them. So I became a friendly sounding board to some, but rarely a friend.
If you grew up in America, chances are you grew up accustomed to stuff. We get stuff for every holiday. We get stuff just because. People list “shopping” as a favorite hobby. No matter your income level in our culture, you can get your hands on stuff. In and out of church circles, it is expected that your home’s walls be covered and you have the required things for any and every event.
At eighteen, I went out of the country for the first time. I experienced poverty on a level I had never personally seen before. But with blank walls and free space, I heard God more clearly than I ever had in my life. I came home to my room full of stuff and was completely disgusted. I gave away everything but my mattress. I slimmed down my closet to just what I could fit in a large backpack. Continue reading “Minimalism in Life & Faith”