I just finished reading Galatians. It’s funny how God uses the right scripture, right at the perfect time you need it.
In the past 9 months I’ve experienced a lot of change in my life, change in location, change in my soul. Last May I moved home from Point Loma back to Minnesota. In June I left for a month of working at summer camp with a new group of people. Then I returned to home with a new outlook, but with the same surroundings. In July, I lost a friend which impacted our whole community. September came, and I flew to Costa Rica to live and study there for three months, knowing almost zero Spanish. December 21 arrived and I entered a 100 degree temperature difference in Minnesota after spending months in a tropical rainforest climate. And a few weeks ago, I came full circle and reunited with friends in San Diego. Change. Lots of it.
I’ve met a lot of new people through these experiences and through these new people and locations, I’ve come to realize that a new me has developed along the way as well.
I’m a people pleaser….that’s probably been my biggest weakness. And I’m sure will always be apart of me. With that comes a need to be accepted. The desire to be accepted typically starts when you’re in a new environment and you want others to like you, at least that’s how it starts for me. This desire causes us to project an image of what we want others to see and to hide our faults and struggles. Being put in new environments? Lucky me! That’s been my life the past year. People will accept you more if only, if only, if only. Each of these times I moved around to new places, I found myself not only having this attitude towards the people, but also with my relationship with God. I felt like since I wanted to earn others acceptance, I would push aside my faith and then feel a need to earn His acceptance back in return once I felt my relationship with God getting too far from me. If only I could live better, pray more, work harder, share the Gospel with more people, give more of my attention to Him, then things might be perfect and I’d be good with God. While all of these things may better me as a person, the great thing I was reminded of tonight is that we are ALREADY accepted in Christ and nothing we do can ever change that. His message frees us from living this life in guilt and because of this we find a fresh assurance in His love for us and a desire to serve Him more because of His grace. Galatians 1:10 says “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” I want to make sure that my people pleasing ways don’t get in the way of being a servant of Christ. In fact, the more time I spend getting to know Him, the less time I find myself desiring human acceptance. And that is a beautiful thing.
Transitions are hard. In fact, the hardest transitions I find in my life are ones after I experience strong spiritual awakening. These times in my life were coming home from school, coming home from camp, and coming back to school after everything I experienced in Costa Rica. I’ve found myself these past three weeks back on campus struggling with where I belong now that I’m back. Things definitely feel different from last year, new people and even old friendships feel different than before and that’s never an easy feeling. When I experience things like that, I find myself so consumed and wrapped up in worldly things and how I can adjust into the lives of people here, pushing aside what God wants of me and how I can live my life for Him and not others. But as I was reminded tonight in Paul’s writing, who’s approval do I desire most? Yes, there are constantly cultural pressures surrounding us but the beautiful thing is that we can bring these pressures to God and there is so much freedom in that. (Gal 5:1)
So no matter how much of a struggle change is for us, living life by the Spirit will always bring out good in life. No matter what challenges we’re facing, our faith will always be there and so will God even when it feels like others aren’t. 5:6 says "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love" and that really spoke to me tonight along with 5:13 "But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in love" Although I’m in yet another transition period in my life and sometimes it’s hard to adjust to life here on earth LOVE is what counts. Loving those we find hard to love, loving those we find easy to love. And the more freedom we experience through Christ, the more we are able to express love. By the grace of God I have this freedom and because of that, I’m not going to push that aside and be consumed with worldly acceptance as I move from place to place, but be on fire to live a life in Christ’s image and to do so humbly in love.
So yes, change is hard, and it’s very easy to get caught up in what others want from you and how you’re expected to behave especially on a college campus or in new environments when you’re not sure the the behavior expectations are. But if we accept the grace given to us, love as God loves us, then changes, transitions, and whatever else you may be dealing with will become a little bit easier.
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" 6:9