Concerns from a Christian College

I go to a wonderful school with so many beautiful people. Its name is Hope and it’s tagged a Christian school. But it’s also a scary place.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” ~Matthew 7:21

Not everyone who claims to be a Christian actually is and I think that’s pretty evident when we think of “Christians” who have tainted the name for the rest of the world. They profess they have faith but their actions do not line up with the Scripture. They spread hatred and intolerance for people different than themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, we all screw up and no one is a perfect Christian, but beware of those who don’t actively walk with the Lord daily.

When you have opportunities to attend chapel three times a week, church on Sunday, and Bible studies, it’s so easy to pretend. And that’s scary. We have to be discerning and examine not the outward actions of our peers–anyone can do that–but what is truly at the core of their heart. God? How they appear to others?

As my dad says, look for their fruit. That will tell you a great deal about their true identity.

As for my friends who are non-believers, I have to be honest with you. Chances are you have run into “Christians” throughout your life who are not actually representative of Christ and what they claim to believe. Don’t just take their word for it. Maybe even ask them about their faith.

Believers, please examine your faith and ensure that you are on the right track. How is your relationship with God? Does something need to change? Are you missing something?

It can be difficult, especially in a setting like a Christian school, to pick out the genuine believers. But keep a watchful mind and use God and his Word as your guide.

~Annah

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A Brief Thought

So I went through a rough year and a half. I learned what it is like to fail and battle with my inner demons, as dramatic as that sounds. Satan is real and present in my life. I’ve learned how evil of an enemy I can be to myself. But I’ve also learned how loving God has been through it all.

Now I’m in a different period. I’ve been trying to figure out what it is.

I’m still trying to search for God’s voice, but it’s not as hard to hear. I had a hunch this year would be better than last year and God has blessed me with that. But also God has been showing me that His plan trumps mine every single time.

I had a vision of what friends I would grow with this year–He pulled me to different people. I had an idea of how I would do in my classes–it’s not what I expected. The doubts plaguing my faith are being touched upon and calmed by Him day after day.

“He whispered to assure me–I’ve found Thee, Thou art Mine.”

This period of my life is called reassurance.

~Annah

The Weight of Inadequacy

“Dear friend, here we are again pretending
to understand how you think your world is ending.
Sending signals and red flags in waves…
It’s hard to tell the difference between blood and water these days.
I’ll pray that one day you see
the only difference between life and dying
is one is trying, that’s all we’re gonna to do.
So try to love me and I’ll try to save you.”

~Twenty One Pilots [Lovely]

Let me be honest.

I don’t feel like an adequate woman, friend, sister, daughter, and I definitely don’t feel like an adequate Christian. I feel like I am fake and passive, sinful and hopeless. I’m a basket case with lots of issues, I tell myself. What I know for sure: I’m definitely trying to take myself out.

I’ve stated before that I struggle with hypochondria. Lately it has been worse than ever before. No matter what I tell myself, or anyone else tells me, I think I’m dying. No one can tell me differently; I’m stubborn when it comes to lies I believe.

The past week my go-to song has been “Lovely” by Twenty One Pilots. I really enjoy the sentiment–the speaker is trying to reach the subject, who seems to be having trouble seeing the truth. The repeating line is the speaker saying, “I’ll take you on a ride / I will make you believe you are lovely.”

I think the sentiment I’ve been getting from hypochondria has begun to creep into my faith. The past month or so I have not been content with my dedication to God and I think he’s finally revealing something to me. I don’t believe I’m adequate and I think that has been my biggest hindrance. Girls tend to compare themselves to others, but here’s a secret—anxious girls compare themselves even more so (yes it’s possible.)

I’ve let comparison seep into every crevice, even something as beautiful as faith.

God has always wanted me to put burdens on him and let him take care of it. Despite what my anxious mind wants to believe, I can never be in control. I can have a false sense of security, but that is fleeting.

Here’s the truth, despite what my mind wants to insist: I am not my sin. I used to be, before I accepted Christ, but I’m not anymore! Anxiety, hypochondria, the fear of death, worry, stress—all of these are burdens that I don’t have to carry anymore! Praise the Lord!!!

Whenever you or I sin the reaction should not be ‘dang it, God, I can never be what you want me to be!’ No amount of our own works can change what Jesus has done. I hope that none of you get stuck in the lie that you have to prove yourself to our Father. That is simply not true. Instead, the goal should be learning and repenting from our mistakes, while thanking God for his unending grace!

“The only difference between life and dying / is one is trying.” That doesn’t mean we will be perfect in our faith, that’s impossible! But we will earnestly try to give God the glory he deserves and give thanks to True Love.

Let me look at the world through this liberating lens. Let me change the world and love on others because God loves on me, even when I have moments of inadequacy.

~Annah

A Talk About Faith: Why do I Believe?

I am a Christian. That means I believe in one God, who created this earth and everything in it. I believe that God sent Jesus to Earth as a baby. I believe Jesus died for all of the sins of the world and rose again three days later. I believe Jesus will come back one day and I believe that there is an afterlife, in either Heaven or Hell. I believe everything else written in the Bible.

But why do I believe all of this? For those of you who are Christians, this is something we need to be prepared to answer. But more importantly, this is something we should be willing to share with anyone and everyone, especially non-Christian friends and family. For non-Christians, this is something I hope you’ll take the time to read, because this is the most important thing in my life.  

Before I begin, I need you to understand this is not me trying to convince anyone of anything. I just want to share what I’ve come to believe through my own life and be honest with you, by sharing my personal thoughts.

I know there are plenty of people who think it’s ludicrous. That’s completely understandable, because for a human mind, many concepts in the Bible are hard to grasp or believe. But initially, I’d like to remind you it’s called “faith” for a reason. It’s not easy. It means choosing faith over doubt (although doubt will still certainly plague our minds). It means you’re not always going to have all the answers. It means you’re not always going to understand everything that happens in the world or your life. We can’t, because we’re only human. But we can trust in God and know that his plan is better than ours could ever be. If it was easy, we’d all believe right? But God hasn’t made it easy, because he wants us to make our own choice. No one can force you to believe, and God certainly wouldn’t want to. That’s all up to you. But you’re always welcome, no matter how broken or unwanted you think you are.

For me personally, I don’t think we were created for this world. We have this sense of right and wrong within us, but what’s the point of that? Why do we feel ashamed of anything? If this life really doesn’t matter, why should we feel contrition for anything we do? Humans constantly have a hunger for something more, something better. We try to use so many things to satisfy ourselves—sex, drugs, alcohol, relationships, sports, school, entertainment… But at the end of the day we’re still left with discontentment. Why? I think because we yearn for something more than anything this world has to offer us. We can never be content with the finite, because we were created for the infinite.

We constantly have this hope that everything will be worth it. We want to be loved and accepted. We want our struggles to have a happy ending. I think that’s because we are searching for God and Heaven.

I’ve also experienced inexpressible emotion through Christ-related things. God stirs up emotions in me that I can’t find anywhere else. Not through people, not through music, not through writing, not even through my dog (I know, it’s hard to believe). I wish I could put it into words better, but I honestly can’t. It happens at times when I read a verse that hits home, or I’m in a room of hundreds of kids worshiping, or I’m seeing my friend change their life before my eyes, or I’m watching people give their lives to Christ for the first time.

There are so many other things I want to say, but the main thing is God has changed my life and I want you to know that.

God is offering you a chance at eternal life, without pain and suffering. Jesus didn’t just die for humanity, but he died for you specifically. He took the pain for all the sin and wrongdoings you have, are, and will commit because he loves you. We don’t deserve this love, but he constantly gives it to us anyway. Even though we sin and even though we ignore God and some will reject him, he still looks at each one of us and says YOU are worth it.

I know you may not be like me. I know you might disagree with me. But I wanted to share all of this with you, because you deserve to hear it. You deserve to know that you have an opportunity to commit your life to a God that will never let you go. You deserve this opportunity, whether you choose to accept it or not. You deserve an eternity of peace.

Thanks for listening, it means the world.

~Annah

Our Twenty-First Century Enemy

Our world faces many challenges, without a doubt. It’s plagued by violence and fear and worry in all shapes and sizes. We are well aware of countries that face poverty and hunger. We seek peace among countries that are waging war against each other. All of these issues are very evident in the news and we hear about them constantly.

For first world countries especially, we’ve developed a new challenge. It’s a problem that plagues the vast majority, but is not well-publicized. I definitely battle with it, and chances are you do too. We created this thing called the internet, and while it’s fine in moderation (and for writing blogs 🙂 ), it has begun to take over many of our lives.

The issue is that constantly being on our phones or captivated by screens has become the norm. Many of us suffer from the addiction and might not even be aware of it. Too easily, it can suck valuable, nonrenewable time from us. Are we really going to be glad that we spent hours scrolling through Twitter when all is said and done? Probably not. But it’s so hard to fight this enemy.

My generation and younger generations have this new beast to tackle, which older generations might not understand. It definitely doesn’t help that a vast majority of our schoolwork is now online, making the temptation to wander to other sites and procrastinate stronger. It doesn’t help that more and more jobs use the internet as a necessity.

The social media that we’re using to connect to others is also the same thing that makes us envy and feel isolated from others. More times than not, we scroll through negativity, which truly affects our daily life and our outlook.

Maybe this thought process will help those of you suffering, like it has for me:

You deserve to experience more than pictures of others through a screen. Live and breathe beside them. You deserve to keep some secrecy to your existence, instead of sharing it all with 700 Facebook friends. You deserve to experience that beautiful view or hear that wonderful tune without feeling the need to capture it online. Sometimes it’s better to let memories remain just that.

These devices are sucking valuable memories and people from our lives. This past year, I spent more time trying to reconnect with faraway friends than trying to connect with the people at my fingertips. While it’s okay to check up on relationships that are more distant, we need to take advantage of the people around us now. As a Christian, I know these are the people God has placed in my life and I know he has good reason for that timing.

Let’s break away from the norm. Let’s live our lives more fully, limiting our time online. Don’t let this enemy win the fight.

~Annah

Here’s a great song to complete my message:

 

Genesis 1:31

I’m surrounded by broken women. The world is filled to the brim with broken women. Not a single woman is safe from the daily disease of appearance. Women who don’t think they’re good enough exactly as they are made. Women who are constantly trying to change themselves or are envious of other girls because of x, y, and z.
But here’s the thing: you don’t need x, y, or z. In fact, you’re better off without those things, whatever just popped into your mind. Let me share a little about my struggle and how I personally discovered this.

As a petite woman, I often feel alone and singled out. I know there are plenty of others out there like me, but I’m hardly surrounded by any. Because of this, I feel out of place. Strangers make jokes about how young I look and I never feel like I have anyone to talk to, because it seems like no one understands the struggle of being so tiny. In fact, I’ve even had someone ask me if I was anorexic. I’ve noticed our society is not the most conscientious of petite women through clothing and social interactions.

This is not okay. While I understand why people say or act the way they do around me, here’s a couple things I want everyone to know about me as a petite woman:

-I beat myself up more than anyone else and that’s why it makes harmless or playful comments stand out. Oftentimes they’re thoughts that reflect my own thoughts towards myself and that’s really why they hurt me. However, I am working on building up my self-confidence.

-I should not have to justify my size in any type of environment (especially professionally) to be taken seriously.

Many times I’ve found myself thinking I should put more makeup on or wear taller shoes or dress a certain way. While none of those things are bad, the issue is I would find myself thinking these things because I felt like it was necessary to look older or be more mature. But what the heck does that even mean for a full-grown woman? Frankly, we probably just mean we want to look like that other woman. Even if you’re not petite like me, women are constantly trying to change themselves to fit a certain mold of what they consider ‘ideal’ or ‘successful.’ If we just do x, y, and z we feel we can be content with our body. Until then, we despise ourselves.

So this summer I decided I need a change in attitude. I want to fully respect my body for what it is, not what my flesh wants to be. I’m going to try to eat healthier, exercise more, and have proper self-care in every aspect of my physical being.

Okay, easier said than done. Anyone can say they want to truly love themselves starting now, but most people don’t come through. Why am I so set on this?

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” ~1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I have one body. I will never have another one. This body is made to contain the Holy Spirit. This body is bigger than myself and my comparison or envy or discontentment. If I am to truly glorify God in my body, I need to love it wholeheartedly, with no strings attached. I know I’ll fail and I can’t perfect everything, but I want my body to have the love it deserves for its one lifetime.

Ladies, God made us just how he wants us and none of it is a mistake. I know it’s hard to believe and I know we will have our doubts, but remember: even our body is not about us. If we are to truly exemplify God’s love and our faith to others, we need to look at our authentic, non-accessorized selves and say “it is good.” We need to truly believe that.

~Annah

Our Broken, Violent World

Lately there have been more tragic and violent events occurring in our world. As I scroll through social media, all I can see is anger, sadness, and fear. How am I, as a Christian, supposed to react to these events?

In the midst of times like this—hearing about mass shootings and tragic deaths—it’s not easy to see God’s plan. How can there be meaning in the midst of violent chaos? How can these terrible events be part of God’s plan? Where is the good?

Violence is one of the many results of sin. We have turned away from God, causing our world to become a broken place. I have contributed to this, you have, we all have. This means sin, including violence, is inevitable. As much as we will try to stifle it, it cannot be stopped. We as humans are always trying to find a solution to everything. Humans are afraid of death and we will try to prolong it as much as possible.

So back to the initial question—how to react as a Christian? While it’s easy to be fearful, that’s not the answer. Hatred and vengeance towards those that have harmed us is not the answer. No, none of these emotional responses are the answer. They might be how our flesh desires to act, but as Christians, this should not be our response to violence.

“Behold, God is my salvation; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” ~Isaiah 12:2

We are not supposed to try to fix the world like humans are often inclined to do. We are to show others that we have hope beyond this world. Christians are to show each and every person on the planet that they are welcome to be with God after death, without pain or suffering.

I have hope in a God bigger than this world. He’s bigger than the struggles I go through and the daily violence throughout our planet. His love covers me and you. Daily he provides us with grace and mercy. He sent his son to die for us, so we can have this chance to end up somewhere better than here. We don’t deserve this love, but he pours it over us regardless. That is something worth telling others about.

~Annah