What I Wish I Learned in New York

I had the incredible opportunity of going to New York with some people from school to sing at Carnegie Hall. For five days, we explored every inch of the city that we could and we wore our tired feet proudly. Going into the trip, I had some expectations. Jesus always teaches me something when I go to new places, so here’s what I was hoping He would teach me and remind me of, and what I wanted to write about when it was all over:

I wanted to learn that even in a crowd of millions, Jesus still saw me personally. That He loved me in the midst of tourists with selfie sticks and harsh New Yorkers and businessmen in nice suits. I wanted to learn that you can see Jesus even in big cities—that He is in the magic of the lights of Broadway and the jarring noise of honking horns and the infinity of running through a big city after midnight. But I did not learn these things, and that will not be the pretty blog post I write.

What I learned is far messier and more isolating than the streets of a crowded city. What I learned is that there are times when our faith comes crashing down. When you realize that the stone castle you thought you lived in is really just a house of straw because you built it with your own fragile hands.

This is why I love travel—because getting out of your usual routine can open your eyes to things you had no idea about, but the lessons you learn are not always happy ones.

I don’t know how it came to the point of being hesitant about the Lord. Maybe it was when I realized that no matter what I’ve done or what new Christian method I’ve tried, nothing has worked to fill that ache in my soul. That so often I still feel incredibly broken even when I’ve asked Him over and over to fix me and I feel like He’s not coming through. And so, the terrifying beginnings of doubt began to creep in.

Maybe it would be more accurate to say that my faith in my own strength is what came crashing down. I lost faith in my ability to fix myself, which is the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Because all I’ve experienced since the moment everything fell apart is Him tenderly caring for my heart even when I have so many questions and there is so much tension between us.

It’s question after question circling through my mind since then, but I’m learning to love and be thankful for the uncertainty. I wish with everything that is in me that I could say, “these are the thoughts that WERE circling in my mind, but I’m better now.” But falsely putting this struggling in the past tense when it is still very present would be dishonest. And anything but vulnerability is not going to help anyone facing these same questions.

What I really did learn in New York is that I build my faith on my ever-changing, human emotions. When I have days where I feel like Jesus doesn’t love me or that I’m not forgiven, instead of replacing those lies with truth, I take them as the ultimate truth and I let them shape my view of a perfectly good and loving God.

However, His truth stands in all situations and all circumstances, no matter what I feel. It is dangerous and scary to base Christianity on our feelings, and the Lord will let everything crumble if that’s what it will take to reestablish you.

I know with all that is in me that Jesus is showing up in this season of questions. I know that because His Word says this is true. I am convinced that this is something all Christians must face at some time or another, so when we do, we have a choice: Are we going to stare this doubt in the face and stand firm until we see the power and truth in Jesus Christ? Or are we going to walk away?

I’ve decided to stand my ground. I hope that you do the same.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

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2 thoughts on “What I Wish I Learned in New York

  1. I think this is beautifully written and an inspiring message, thank you for sharing 🙂 I often live my life with an idea in my head of how it’s supposed to go, what I’m supposed to learn, and how it will all unfold. It’s beautiful to finally admit that it doesn’t always work out that way. Thanks for being willing to share, you are not alone!

    • Jennifer, thank you so much for your kind words! It can be scary to feel this way, so thank you for letting me know you have experienced the same thing. Thank you for reading!

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