A Lesson on Strength You Can’t Learn Any Other Way

It’s easy to believe God is always good–until excruciating pain smacks us in the face.

But isn’t that when we need to believe it most?

I’ve had acid reflux for two and a half years. It’s stress-induced, which explains why it started the same time I started college. The more worried I am, the worse it gets.

Major changes happened in my life over a year ago, and since I couldn’t control my surroundings, my anxiety level increased–as did my pain. I started waking up in the middle of the night with a severe tightening in my chest.

Up until two months ago, I would’ve said that the worst pain I had of this nightmarish version of acid reflux was on Christmas Day, when it started right after dinner and lasted for nine hours.

It’s the kind of pain that you can’t stop. I’ll try various remedies, from drinking baking soda water to popping Tums to using a heating pad in an effort to relax my muscles. That night, nothing worked. It hurt to recline, to sit, and, soon enough, standing became exhausting. Eventually my body wore itself out and I sat in a recliner until 2am, waiting for the pain to go away.

This time was infinitely worse.

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Courtship Isn’t What You Think

Perhaps you’ve heard of courtship before, maybe had a friend or two that’s done it, but deep down (probably not even too deep), you view courtship as an outmoded version of romance.

Honestly, that’s totally cool. I get it. Courtship calls to mind elegant dresses and the phrase “gentleman caller,” which may be all well and good in a Jane Austen novel, but that’s not modern life.

But I also think some things get misinterpreted along the way. Courtship isn’t strictly about how you go about a romantic relationship, it’s about the why.

In fact, let’s get rid of the label of “courtship,” because that’s hardly what it’s about. Let’s call it something else, like “surrendering the pen of your love story to your loving Heavenly Father.” It’s a bit wordier, granted, but it’s much, much more accurate.

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An Open Letter to the Christian Caught in Sin

Being a Christian and finding yourself still struggling with sin can be very confusing. As I touched on a few weeks ago, we can tend to feel an immense amount of guilt and assume that God sees us the way we see ourselves—dirty, horrible, unlovable—but the super cool thing about becoming a Christian is that we now wear the righteousness of Christ. To God, it is as though we never sinned.

(This doesn’t mean we don’t need to worry about repentance. It just means that when we fall, we should repent, get up, and keep going.)

I know what it’s like to mess up. And I know what it’s like to swear I’ll never do it again and soon find myself in that same exact place, wondering when God is going to decide I’m not worth the trouble and give up.

But He won’t. He never ever will, and that’s what I wanted to remind you of.

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This is Why You Still Feel Guilty

These past several months I’ve been thinking a lot about how two aspects of myself can exist simultaneously: I’m a Christian, and yet I still sin.

Being a good person has always been one of the most important things to me. Even before I got saved, when I realized I did something wrong I was flooded with guilt and remorse. Whether it was something as big as looking my parents in the face and lying to them or as seemingly small as excluding my younger brother, I felt it all. There have been countless tears spent on my part, lamenting that I’m not a better person.

And those feelings haven’t gone away just because I surrendered my heart to Christ a few years ago. In fact, they’ve intensified.

“I should be better now,” I tell myself through gritted teeth. “It should be easier.”

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Why I’m Still Single

I’m a little bit different. I’ve never had a boyfriend, never been kissed.

Never been left by myself to pick up the pieces, wondering what I did that caused this guy who promised eternal love and devotion to toss me aside and move on to someone else.

But it’s not a fear of pain that has shaped my decision. It’s not because I think I don’t need a man or because I don’t want to get married.

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Standing Firm

Growing up as a pastor’s kid without having an actual relationship with Christ is rough. Like, real rough. You’re surrounded by people that have a genuine faith, and your efforts to blend in leave you frustrated and hopeless.

At least, that’s how it was for me.

Thankfully, when I was sixteen, Jesus got a hold of my heart and gave me that genuine faith I spent years failing to imitate. But before that, I was still trying to be perfect by my own strength and goodness. I was determined to be a good person and to never, ever, ever sin. (Which failed. Miserably.) But because of this mindset, Philippians 4:1 caught my eye:

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