It’s weird to think I’ve been in Kauai for a month. It’s even weirder to think that a month ago, the people that now feel like family were just a anticipated idea in my mind. The past month, I have been to Hanalei Bay, Kalapaki Beach, Sleeping Giant Trail, Awa’awapuhi Trail in Kokee, and many other beautiful places throughout the island. God has blessed me to see the beauty in this place I am calling home for the next couple months, but besides the jaw-dropping views, I have learned so much.
We have received lectures on an overview of the Bible (week 1), hearing God’s voice (week 2), discipleship (week 3), and now worship (week 4!). God has revealed Himself to me every week in a different way, whether in the lectures, through others, or any other way He sees fit. I am learning so many new perspectives, and feel spiritually poured into every single day. I’ve seen a reflection of His love in my team, as well. I’ve felt so much grace and love when we’ve laughed together, made mistakes together (like missing the bus…), cried together, and prayed over one another…when we are able to relate to each other on being homesick (or sick in general), confused, or are battling pain from the past. Whatever it is, the staff and students here are some of my absolute favorite people. They’re all so encouraging, unique, and understanding… not to mention they’re all on fire for their faith.
There have definitely been moments of discomfort, whether it’s been public speaking or just feeling exhausted. Some days I feel down about myself, or confused. Some days I just feel drained and just want to be a hermit with a blanket over my head.
Some days I have a short temper, negative feelings, and miss my family & dog. Some days I only want to serve myself, don’t want to go to class, and don’t even want to open my Bible. In those moments, it’s difficult. Every day comes with a set of challenges to face, whether internal or external, but every day also comes with the power to overcome them with joy. Joy I can only receive from God Himself. Joy that can only overflow once I, sometimes not so gracefully, surrender myself to His will. With God, we overcome. The Enemy likes to make his way into our minds, distorting our perceptions of ourselves, our surroundings, and thoughts. I have to lay down the thoughts that aren’t from God every single day.
Luke 9:23 “Then he said to them all, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
It’s hard. Really hard. To push away YOUR wants for YOUR life, YOUR desires, YOUR feelings and emotions and everything else. To lay it all down. Less of you, more of Him. It comes with a cost of denying yourself, but God equips you to do so. He equips you to love fiercely, to stare The Enemy in the face at the times you feel most weak and be able to say, “No. God is calling me to far better places than where and who I’ve been before.”
And sometimes I fail. Sometimes I give in to feeling poorly about myself, to looking at others in a not-so-loving light, to getting angry and complaining. I stumble and fall because I am human, but God unconditionally and radically loves His people. He always has, even when our physical world seems failing, His supernatural love catches you with nothing but mercy as a net. And as you think, “This love isn’t real. It isn’t right! People don’t love like this. I don’t deserve this. I don’t believe this.” Just know that God is waiting for you to draw near, and as you do, so will He.
That’s the most important thing I’ve learned so far. In my pain, in my hurt, in my self-hate or shame, The Enemy is telling me to isolate. To hide myself away, that I can fix myself, that no one wants to help me and no one can, that I can find another way besides scripture, community, or prayer to ease my discomfort.
It’s in these moments when I have found it crucial to reach for something beyond myself. Whether it’s me pleading to God for peace, or going to my team here asking for prayer, I have been blessed with finding comfort in discomfort. In being able to deny myself, in WANTING to deny myself. What a world I am living in, guys. Seriously, worldly ways make me lose sight of myself, of others. Following anything but Jesus makes me love others, myself, and life less. I don’t want anything else.