Finding Contentment

Hi Friends! I’m Taylor! Let’s jump right in.

In March of 2016 I went on a mission trip to Atlanta, Georgia. At that time, my plan was to finish at OTC in May and transfer over to MSU in the fall to study Interior Design. (I basically wanted to be the next Joanna Gaines…) I gawked over houses every day, imagined the potential of the worst homes, and I was passionate about every little detail interior design had to offer… which was A LOT! That was all I talked about. (For fun I even drove around neighborhoods just to look at houses & imagine what I would change.)

Later in the week we were there, God made it very clear to me that interior design was what I wanted to do, and NOT what He had planned for me to do. I had this big ole plan for my life prepared. I was already ahead in school and I was looking to graduate a lot sooner than most college students would. Basically I wanted to get in and out of school and start my career ASAP. But I sensed there was something far greater ahead that only His perfect timing would allow to be revealed… So long story short, I decided to take His route, which lead to taking the fall semester off because I had NO CLUE what was ahead of me.

Six months later, after lots of prayer and fasting, the Lord spoke to me in such a unique way with a call into ministry!

Now, here’s where my story to finding contentment begins:

That word “contentment” was not what I would have used to describe exactly how I felt inside I was living out my plans. I am a very organized, OCD, got everything planned out kind of person. (I can be a go with the flow kind of person too; it just depends on the situation.) When it’s my whole future, though, that’s when I want to see it all mapped out. I like to know all the little, teeny-tiny details because every single one of them is important to me. If I’m invited to go somewhere I’m unfamiliar with I have to know where it’s at, what we’re going to do, and who all is going to be there. I need the time to prepare myself and get comfortable with where I’m headed to, mostly because I get very anxious. I struggled with receiving contentment in the unknown because I liked the idea of “knowing” and keeping my life together in a comfortable way before my eyes. When you’re walking in a relationship with God and you decide to listen to His will, that’s not how it always goes though. You have to be willing to trust His every step as you’re walking in step with Him, and that can honestly be extremely difficult, especially for someone as nervous & anxious as I always am. I wanted to find contentment in the uncertainty & honor God by trusting Him to take the reins!

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” -Galatians 5:25

God loves to surprise me in ways I never imagined possible! That is something I have realized more over and over again these past few months. Being called into ministry [in my apartment living room] was a HUGE surprise. I was only having my daily Jesus time; what random timing and location! I didn’t know what that was going to look like for me, I didn’t know what I was passionate about, and I had NO idea what to even study for school. (These thoughts all came much too quickly.) I’ll admit, I was extremely nervous about the whole thing, and every bad thought I could possibly think of popped into my mind in those few minutes. I instantly feared speaking in front of people, I doubted my intellect, and unfortunately I felt completely unqualified for the job. (The worst thing was I didn’t even know what the exact job was yet!) I even doubted if that whole thing actually happened or if I made it all up in my head. But even though I had all of that negativity running through my mind, I had so much more peace than any other career path I had been pursuing. I was overjoyed & I couldn’t wait to begin whatever it is I’m going to do.  I knew I could handle interior design on my own, but going into ministry I knew I was desperate for God’s anointing. I’ve heard multiple times that when I’m capable of doing something all myself that means I don’t really need God’s help, so it’s easy to just cut him out of the equation.  But God wants to do life with us, and I want to live a life in the fullness of Him experiencing all that He has prepared for me. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a major step of faith & trust in the Lord, especially having the thoughts of feeling unqualified, but I knew it was going to be a journey like never before; it was like a holy adrenaline rush… But lasting!

As the excitement inside me was growing, I started praying God would make me passionate about what He’s passionate about. To be completely honest, I’m passionate about a lot of things and that always makes it harder for me to choose just one thing to focus on. It’ll feel like I’m settling and that’s the last thing I want to do heading into ministry. At this point in time any idea that came to my mind made me think “Oh this must be it!”, and I was looking for ways to pursue those thoughts. I noticed that I was becoming so much more obsessed with finding out the future that I was completely looking past the present moments of life. I wasn’t even being directed by the Lord in most of these things, but just by how creative I could get or even making other people’s dreams my own. My focus was on the future, and that’s where I was allowing myself to be living.

I went to a retreat in October not long after being called into ministry and my main focus for the weekend was to figure out my specific calling. Okay, here’s a moment of confession: I was completely bummed by the answer I got because it was focused on the present instead of the future. God literally called me to a place that is a normal part of my everyday life. That was quite the unexpected answer & a little disappointing, but I wanted to be obedient in the small things in life too & for God to see that He can use me for the bigger things ahead. I will admit I was still keeping my thoughts of the future a big priority, which is good to some extent, but I also wasn’t ignoring the present anymore. I reeeaallly just wanted to know what I was going to do and how to start pursuing that.

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” -Psalm 37:4

There was this part of me that didn’t want to make a move without God’s OK. I wanted to follow His plan so perfectly that I was living in fear of making the wrong move. I had multiple people telling me I should just take a few courses on different things to find out what I could be interested in. There was lots of pressure, all with good intentions, to go back to school. One day I sat down and literally looked at every degree MSU has to offer just to see if maybe something would stand out in a way that had my name written all over it. Some things sounded like a good idea, but there was just something unsettling about going back to school right now in my spirit. I just couldn’t take that step, and I was beginning to feel like school wasn’t going to be on my radar any time soon. (That thought terrified me because I also didn’t want to disappoint certain people in my life by taking a break for who knows how long…)

As 2017 rolled around the corner, I decided to set some goals for the year. I’m not a huge New Year’s Resolution person because if I’m being honest, I’m most likely going to break them. My four main goals I wanted to be challenged by though were: (1) Start the year off with the Daniel Fast (2) Read a book a month (3) Begin volunteering in my church and (4) Get involved in things & become more intentional. I needed to take some time to clear my chaotic, stress-filled thoughts and dive into what the Lord wanted to do through the time of fasting and taking action. I surrendered all of those things to Him, and soon patience became a reoccurring word for me to obtain; contentment followed behind. I think the two definitely go hand-in-hand. When you learn patience, the next step is to learn to be content in that season of waiting. As humans, we focus our lives on a timeline, but God is not bound by time. Mark Batterson says in his book In A Pit, “But God is never early, and He is never late! He’s always right on time, His time!” Sometimes you won’t know how long you’ll have to be patient for, so you might as well get used to it and enjoy the journey of each moment of every day.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” -1 Timothy 6:6

I remember hearing a sermon from my pastor basically saying we need to stop trying to grasp the future and start looking at what’s in our hands ready for the present. By this time I now wanted to start ministry immediately. As soon as I could, I started volunteering with the kids’ ministry at my church. All that mattered to me was that I start somewhere. I also got connected with more girls in the church. It’s been extremely refreshing each week to talk and do life together. (And when I say talk, I mean we literally talk about EVERYTHING!) We share the deep thoughts & struggles we have with one another (and of course the exciting celebrations & silly girl things too), and the best part is everyone relates. We are all in different stages of life, but on our first night together, one common denominator was that we were all looking for contentment for the future. It was so nice not to be the only one experiencing the struggle of finding contentment! We focused on Joshua 1:6-9 which says:

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

I feel like this passage couldn’t be any clearer for my life. Simply put, all I need to do is be strong & courageous, obey God, keep His word written on my heart, and not be afraid or discouraged. A week later, I had a good friend bring it to my attention that maybe God called me just broadly to ministry, not a specific type. Over time God was confirming what she said, and He made it obvious to me it’s okay to be passionate about everything & it is possible to work with all kinds of people. It sounds crazy, but He’s got everything under control. I just need to trust His path of mysteries & surprises.

Speaking of mysteries & surprises… This blog was a total surprise to me. I’ve secretly always wanted to start one; I just never had the time aaaand I didn’t think I had it in me to write anything decent. Now I have a sufficient amount of time since I’m not in school, but I’m still nervous to share. (Side Note: This is a whole other story for another time, BUT missions/church planting has been on my heart a lot recently. It is a huge part to how the whole idea of The Well started.)

Anyway, again with the random [perfect] timing of God from earlier, I was reading In A Pit still from a chapter titled “Grab Opportunity by the Mane.” Let me just say, Mark Batterson is a very wise, Spirit-filled author & I greatly appreciate his perspective on the topic of contentment. From this chapter I learned “the biggest dreams,” in my case missions/church planting, “often start out as the smallest opportunities.” He used a mustard seed to represent small opportunities transforming into God-sized dreams. I asked God what I could do to start pursuing missions/church planting right now, and one of the answers I got was “Blogging.” If you ask me, starting a blog seemed much bigger than a mustard seed; it’s more like the full grown tree! Especially for a girl that only writes in a journal that no one ever reads. But in some ways, compared to whatever God has in store for the future, it is the mustard seed. I’m so looking forward to this journey. This whole plan is completely unexpected & way different than any thought I would’ve come up with for myself, but this is the perfect will of God. I believe & pray God is going to take The Well to a place that I can’t yet see. (That thought terrifies me and excites me all at the same time!)

I may be a better babbler than a good writer, but it’s where I’m starting. Mark Batterson says, “If you wait for perfect conditions before you seize an opportunity, you’ll be waiting till the day you die.” I could keep putting this off because of all my fears of what people might think or not feeling wise enough to share about God, but there’s no telling what kinds of opportunities I’d miss out on. Truthfully as I write this, I have so much peace because I know God’s favor is over this. He told me to do it, so why worry & stress over failure?

From this point on I have been walking in contentment & the fullness of God. I went from pursuing interior design to taking time off from school, being called to ministry, and starting a blog. I’m truthfully excited about the unknown and uncertainty of the far future, but I am certain of God‘s plan for right now & that’s where my focus is. I have received confirmation in a number of ways that where I’m going is where God wants me to be. I fully believe I’m walking in the Lord’s will, and ironically it is the most unbelievable feeling! Some of my favorite lyrics come from Hillsong United’s song “Touch the Sky”:

“I found my life when I laid it down… 

 I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground”

I think these verses display the most perfect image of a truly abundant & complete life when surrendered to the will of God.

I discovered this verse only a few months ago, and it’s incredible how many times since then it’s appeared in my daily life:

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” -Zechariah 4:10

P.S.—Not too long after writing this post, God has already been steering me into new directions I didn’t even see coming! What an ever-changing journey I’m on!

Welcome to The Well… This is only the beginning!

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