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"Brand New"

When I first started blogging my freshman year of high school, I originally treated it like an online journal, meaning, whatever thoughts and feelings I wrote about in private, I then made public to my audience on Tumblr. Looking back, I'll admit now that might've been a little risky, but the influence it had was humbling. Readers would reach out to let me know how much they were able to relate to me, that my posts encouraged them and made them more curious about the Jesus I often posted about. It was exciting for me to receive such kind responses and urged me to keep blogging. But, I must admit: Many times along the way, I was met with the temptation to obscure my feelings in order to not scare any readers away. I started to find it safer to blog about all of my "good" versus my "bad" to make for a more fascinating post. I will say that I fought off that temptation pretty well, ensuring that my platform remained a space where we could be as vulnerable as we felt. But, today, on the last post of this year, I'm being most intentional about going back to my blogging beginnings, which only require the basicsmy honest feelings and my keyboard.

Because after the year we've had, I can tell you honestly...

I am feeling a lot.

Between the pandemic, the presidential election, racial unrest, the many lives lost, not to mention the nagging responsibility to deal with my own personal baggage I've had no choice but to quarantine with...

Yeah. It's been a crazy year.

And, as a follower of Jesus Christ, I'm thankful for His all-knowing power that told the story of 2020 long before I began pasting my photos to my vision board. Before time even began, He knew what this year held. And, though it brings me peace to know that every day of this year had already been ordained in His book, I'm a little irritated that He gave me no warning at all.

Of course. Who am I to demand that God consult with me before anything happens? Believe meI know that I'm unworthy to make that type of request. But, sheesh! It would've been nice to know that as I was resolving in January to "get out more" and "make myself available," the world would be on lockdown by March. Or, before I booked myself for some really cool, once-in-a-lifetime networking opportunities with influential authors in April, everyone would be too unsure about gathering in large groups. Or, boy, it would've been nice to know that the emotional torment I thought I had overcome my freshman year of college would come back to visit me with much harder questions than before.

I'm not trying to whine, God, but I think that was a little bit unfair.

Now, if I would've talked like this six years ago as a new Christian, I would've wallowed in self-condemnation, as if I oughta be ashamed of myself. My immature salvation didn't allow me to have such real, raw feelings and thoughts. But, with the year we've had in 2020, I've been brimming over the top with so much concern about how I'd walk out this year. A pandemic...okay, fine. That's out of my control. But, my emotions, my thoughts, my feelings...while those should be in my control, I'm going to be honest with you today, readers. As of late, I haven't been able to get a grip. And, that would be fine if I didn't already have a vision for my life, regarding my career, the family I want to start one day, the books I'm going to write, the nations I'm going to speak to. But, the problem is that I know all too well about where I want to go and where I'm headed. I can smell it. I can taste it. I've confirmed in prayer that for some reason, God wants to use the gifts He was kind enough to give me to bring about His kingdom on earth. But, this year, I've been telling God something I thought I was confident enough to believe otherwise:

"I'm not the one You want."

In other words, I've been thinking: God's called the wrong girl.

There's no way I'm the one He's looking for. Don't get me wrong: I'm flattered that He considered using me to bring His kingdom down to earth, but I don't think I am the one. I am way too scared, incredibly unqualified, and in a lot of ways this year, I've had to deal with my own hypocrisy. It almost feels like a sin to let someone like me be used by God. And, I won't deny the fact that I truly do want to be used by Him. That's the only career I ever want. But, I wish God would agree with me that there's no way I can minister with my condition. I can't handle the weight. I'm too scared of what people will think. I don't want to mess up to the point of no redemption. (Not only do I feel like I have already, but I will again!) How will God deal with me then? Wouldn't He want to find someone else?

Because it's so easy to pray about what's happening out therethe election, the pandemic, the racial unrest, my family, my friends, you. But, lately, it's been so hard to pray for myself. This year, I've been very concerned about the legacy I'll leave behind. Am I pointing to myself in what I do, or am I pointing to Him? At the beginning of this year, I had such a clear picture of how I'd walk out of 2020. I'd be healthier, I'd be more influential, I'd be living out the vision I set for the year. But, I'm walking out so disturbed, frustrated, burnt out, and unsure. You might be able to relate to this, but just imagine how discouraging it feelsto be so sure about your future in the beginning only to feel like you're right back where you started when you reach the end. I know that I'll get over this mountain, but I thought I'd end this year being at the topemotionally, mentally, spiritually, financially, even. And, to feel this way, like I'm an insecure junior in high school all over again is such a let down. I'm so thankful that God's been patient enough to deal with these ugly feelings, but the prayer of my heart is that He would deliver me already. God, if there's a lesson to learn, just let me learn it already! I'm ready to move on from this. But, I know He's not going to take me to the next level until I don't just pass the test, get the good grade, and graduate, forgetting everything I learned. No! He'll take me there once I've studied, once He's been able to train me, so that the person He's building me in private will be the same person I am in public, that the person I am on social media is the person I am at homethat no fame, no recognition, no amount of popularity would keep me from my purpose, that is to represent Jesus in any room He puts me in.

And, as long as I stay committed to letting Him use me, even though I think He might be mistaken, I oughta know how to take hits like these and still find a way to preach the gospelsort of like Apostle Paul when he wrote to the church at Corinth in 2 Corinthians 4. Out of all of the passages of Scripture I've studied this year, what I read in 2 Corinthians seems to hit home.

In writing about ministry, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9:

"We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed."

And, if there's any passage of Scripture I could use to describe the way I'm leaving 2020, it would be this.

It feels as if I've been pressed on every side, from what's happening in the world to what's happening in my region to what's happening in me. But, because God promised me in Matthew 17:20 that I only need faith as small as a mustard seed to move a mountain, I know that the pressing isn't punishment. Therefore, I am not crushed. Yes, I am completely perplexed about what God has done this year, and I wish He would give me more direct answers. But, even then, I'd be lying if I said I have given up hope. I am not driven to despair. I believe it's only gotten this bad just so I can be reminded that He's just that good. Yes, I do feel like I've been hunted down by past traumas, struggles, and temptations, old coping mechanisms and negative thinking. But, I'm crazy enough to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, that He came and died as my sin, forsaken by God so God would never have to forsake me. I believe His love for me is just that deep that even when I'm attacked by my own anxiety, He's there in the fight with me, defending me with His great love. And, while I've been knocked down so many times this year, falling into the same depression pit I thought He rescued me from already in college, the weapon formed against me still didn't prosper because even though I don't always feel it, God is serious about me, and He keeps His word.

And, this is why I share the same confession as Apostle Paul did in 2 Corinthians 4:16.

"That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day."

Other translations don't say, "spirits." Instead, they say, "inner beings."

And, that's where I'm fighting the mostinsidewhich is why it feels good to know that that's the place where He'll make me new.

It doesn't feel that way right now and hasn't for most of the year. But, after experiencing a year as hard as 2020, I'm walking out holding Him to His Word. I'm praying into 2 Corinthians 4:16, vowing to never give up. And, as I keep my commitment, Lord, I pray that You would continue to renew my spirit every day. Though my outer life seems to be wasting away, I have enough faith to believe that You're making my inner life brand new.

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