Purposeful Faith

Author - Abby Mcdonald

The Danger in Letting Others Define Who We Are

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“Don’t ever say you’re just a mom.”

I spun around, startled at the realization that my conversation wasn’t private. I was talking to the cashier at a local toy store about school and pursuing a career in writing. Both my boys were tiny at the time, and before I knew it the statement that I was “just a mom” spilled out of my mouth.

It wasn’t that I didn’t think mothering was important. It had more to do with other’s perception. Or at least, that’s what I thought.

When I turned I saw an older man standing there. He looked me square in the eye and said words I desperately needed to hear during that season.

“What you’re doing is the most important job there is.”

I nodded and thanked him, not sure what else to say. I was amazed at God’s ability to use a complete stranger to encourage me during a time of my life when I felt lost and defeated. And in an instant, I knew I was where God wanted me. My doubt and apprehension was replaced with confidence and security.

But old habits have tendency to resurface, don’t they?

Eventually, I had more time to devote to things I loved and opportunities knocked at my door. I was filled with gratitude and awe at how God was using me.

Encouragement from other strangers came. Strangers who eventually became friends and confidants. I linked arms with others who shared a passion for communicating a message and pointing others toward the hope of Christ through words and stories.

But before I realized what was happening, gratitude turned to comparison. Awe turned to impatience. My timeline and God’s were not the same, and goals I thought would take months turned into years.

I fought for affirmation and approval. Sometimes it came, but when it didn’t my security blanket was ripped off like a band-aid. Rejections stung. Silence and waiting stung even worse.

If we let others define who we are, our security will change like the rising tide.

We will constantly lower our buckets into the well of compliments and accolades until we hit the bottom. And one day, the bucket will come up empty. Our source of sustenance will be parched.

But you want to know the good news? There is Living Water. It never runs dry. And his definition of who we are? It never changes, once we’ve received Him.

Friends, we don’t have to fight for our seat at his table.

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 2:6 NIV

 Our status has nothing to do with our abilities, and everything to do with Christ’s finished work. It is because of his grace and love for us that he allows us to participate with him in his divine work.

Perception changes everything. So the next time we’re tempted to compare and fight for our seats at the table, let’s remember this:

Christ’s finished work = our eternal worth.

This world and the people in it do not determine who you are. The One who hung on a tree and paid a price more precious than pure gold does.

Never forget who claimed you as his. Take your seat, and remember your identity comes from him alone.

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

The Gifts We Overlook

I scroll through my phone and stare at another Christmas party post.

Smiling faces beam back at me as I rock my sleeping babe and wish mine was wedged between them. Praying she won’t wake, I dance to my daughter’s crib and put her down as softly as possible.

Immediately, she cries. Breathing deep, I stand there a moment with a small glimmer of hope that she’ll calm.

She doesn’t.

This was my life a year ago. It was my first holiday season with a baby girl I desired for years. I remember fighting tears and thinking about the irony of it all. I’d waited months for this time and now all I wanted was sleep. I’d felt her kick in my belly and longed to see her face, and then wondered how such a tiny thing could scream with such force.

Before leaving the hospital, the nurse told us not to bring her into crowds for a month.

Continue over to Abby McDonald’s place and join us for the #RaRaLinkup!

When a Door that Seemed Open Is Slammed Shut

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

Flashing lights showed in our rear-view mirror and my husband pulled right, allowing the ambulance to pass. It turned on the street leading up to our house.

“Oh, Don. What did you do now?” my husband said in an exasperated tone.

He seemed certain the ambulance was headed toward our neighbor’s house. The middle-aged man’s health was deteriorating, and those lights were appearing next door more and more often.

“It could be someone else. There’s lots of homes in that direction,” I said.

It was true, but I wasn’t confident. Silently, I prayed for our neighbor’s safety.

But the further we drove, the more fleeting my hopes became. We arrived home and the paramedics drove past our house, parking in front of our neighbor’s. As we observed them from our driveway, we could tell they were familiar with our friend’s case. Frequent caller, nuisance, guy who uses first responders as a taxi service.

There weren’t many in our area who cared about this guy. He was single with no kids, quirky and odd. But months after following the ambulance to his house, my husband took him to Bible study. Despite previous invitations that were ignored or turned down, he went several times.

After his dad passed, we invited him to dinner. To be honest, I felt uncomfortable by some of his habits. But I held my tongue and he came to our home again a few weeks later.

I was sure God was paving the way for a change in this man’s life. We sensed his heart shifting and opening. And while it was just enough to shine a tiny light through, it was something.

But then, there was another shift. Another ambulance. Another trip to the hospital.

He died on a Monday morning. My husband received a text from a caretaker while at work.

I tried to be optimistic, but neither of us knew the state of his soul.

Even as a sit here writing this, questions race through my mind. Why would God allow the door to crack open just a little and then slam shut? Did he plant a seed that was never intended to yield fruit?

I don’t have the answers. I don’t know where this person’s spirit rests. But the same God who put this neighbor next door speaks to my anxious heart.

Most of us know John the Baptist as the bold, fearless one who paved the way for Jesus. The one who decreased so Jesus could increase.

But at the opening of Matthew 11, we get a different picture of this prophet. The man who cleared the way is now questioning. He’s hurting. He’s stuck in a prison, and perhaps waiting for the Messiah who performed miracles for everyone else to extend a miracle to him.

Messengers deliver this message from John to Jesus:

“Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

Matthew 11:3 ESV

Really? Is this even the same person? One moment he was literally shouting the name of Jesus from every platform, and now he’s not even sure he knows who Jesus is.

As much as we may like to see Jesus intervene, he doesn’t. Instead, he tells the messengers to tell John what they hear and see.

He concludes by saying,

“Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Matthew 11:6 ESV

Friends, our job is not to be the way or have all the answers. Our job is to point others to the way.

In his distress, John may have lost sight of this. He may have thought there was more he could do with his ministry, if given the opportunity.

But John’s job was to shine a light toward Jesus. Nothing more. Nothing less. And he achieved that goal.

When we question God’s motives, we lose sight of who he is.

Not only that, we lose sight of who we are. We are vessels he chooses to use and shine his Spirit through.

Sometimes, our opportunities only last for a moment. Others may last for years or even a lifetime. But when the vapor dissipates and an earthly life fades, let’s not lose hope. Though we mourn, let’s continue scattering those seeds.

Because we never know when that seed will burst forth and produce something beautiful.

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

Exchanging Labels and Lies for His Truth

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I went to the N.A. meeting with one goal. To get in and get out. The last thing I expected was for someone to give me a new label. I had too many of those already.

Sure, I wanted to support my loved one. I wanted him to get healthy, find release and healing. But I hoped by staying quiet and not making direct eye contact with the group leader, I could make my exit as soon as the meeting was over.

My strategy didn’t exactly work out as planned. The leader saw me right away, as it’s hard not to notice someone new when you’re sitting in a huge circle.

Once he learned who I was, he asked a series of questions. I didn’t know where he was leading and tried to be as vague as possible with my answers. Later, I learned he was trying to see if I met all the criteria for a term commonly used to describe the loved ones of addicts: codependent.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what the word meant. I had an idea, but I was nineteen years old at the time. Things like this didn’t enter my vocabulary. So, like any good college student, I did some research.

Codependency: (n) a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.

I wasn’t willing to admit it out loud, but I knew I was a classic case. And without even realizing it, I took this label and added it to the list of other ones I allowed to define me through my college and early work years. Codependent, quiet one, underachiever, shy girl.

What’s ironic is that I hated stereotypes. When others tossed them around, I tried my best to avoid them.

“You can’t put me in a box,” I thought to myself.

What I didn’t see is that even though I wasn’t saying them aloud, I was listening. I was allowing these titles to limit me and hold me back.

When I had the opportunity to read my poetry aloud at the coffee shop, I quietly declined. When my professor told me I should enter a writing piece into the tribune, I let fear hold me back.

Staying in the shadows felt safe.

But by never venturing out and taking risks, I slowly lost little pieces of myself. I watched opportunities pass by and wondered why it was so hard for me to step out and be brave.

Years later, after graduating and acquiring my first couple of post-college jobs, I sat in a sanctuary trembling as the labels I’d adopted fell, one by one. I had new ones, and they weren’t names the world could give or take away.

Chosen. Worthy. Daughter. Beloved.

It took me years of searching and asking questions. Lord knows, I can be pretty hard-headed at times. But what I finally saw is that if I let the world define me with a finite label, I would never know who I was as an eternal being.

The world gives us labels based on appearance, but Jesus gives us names that stick.

Once we realize this, we can walk in freedom because we know that when he calls us to do something, it is his name we represent. Not our own.

So if he if he calls us to speak or share or move, what do we have to lose? Nothing but chains, dear daughters. Nothing but chains.

“My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.” Song of Solomon 2:10 ESV

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

The Problem With Hiding Our Struggles

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“Mama, the monsters are coming at me,” my son said.

He stood by the bed with his face inches from mine, hands animated. My mid-REM cycle brain lingered between sleep and reality.

“What?” I asked. I saw that my son was disturbed by something. After realizing I was going to have to get out of bed, I stumbled to his room. I gave the bunk a full examination before telling him to get back in.

Five minutes later, he reappeared. The monsters were still there.

For some reason, the miracle of a flashlight never occurred to me. Thank God for my husband who came to the rescue with not just a flashlight, but a headlamp. Under the pillow it went.

Sweet, uninterrupted sleep followed. The next morning, I realized this tool I took for granted revealed the truth: the “monsters” were in fact shadows. There were no creepy things waiting to grab him in the night. He was safe.

It’s amazing what a little light can do.

Even in the darkest place, a flicker of it can go a long way.

Recently, I needed some light of my own. But for months, I didn’t tell anyone. I went through a dark season where I listened to one lie after another. Lies telling me I wasn’t enough. Lies telling me I should do better as a mother, wife, writer and friend. Lies telling me I wasn’t going to make it.

I thought, “If I can just make it through today, things will get better.”

Good days came and went and when the darkness hit again, I thought, “I’m just having a bad day.”

Somehow, bringing my struggle out into the open seemed threatening. I convinced myself if I could carry it a little longer, it would go away. I thought telling someone would make it my reality.

But in truth, it already was.

One day I sat in church operating the media projector while the worship band played Healing Is Here by The Deluge. My eyes were wet with tears as I mouthed the words.

Sickness can’t stay any longer

Your perfect love is casting out fear

You are the God of all power

And it is your will that my life is healed

Did I believe that? Did I believe God wanted me to be whole, complete, and fully secure in his love?

As I sat there asking myself this question, a miracle took place. The pastor called a sister forward to pray over the offering, but the Spirit had something else for us that day. A rescue. A release.

“There’s someone here who’s suffering from depression,” she stated without hesitation. She said God wanted that person to know his healing power was for her.

The tears ran freely down my cheeks. But still, my butt remained glue to my seat. In the next half hour, our church literally became what Jesus referred to in Matthew as “A House of Prayer.” Service stopped. The sermon was postponed.

This woman’s husband stood up and extended a second invitation, and I knew I had to go forward. And as a stood there at the front of the sanctuary with my head bowed, her hand reached through the crowd and grabbed mine.

Music played in the background while this sister prayed over me, naming lie after lie that I’d listened to for months. It was a God-ordained moment.

And what I realized was this: Even when no one else saw my pain, God did.

“…for your Father knows what you need before you even ask him.” Matthew 6:8b NIV

I finally understood that hiding our struggles does not diminish their power. It increases it.

But when I gave my problem a name, I was able to take the first step toward healing. I said, “I’m not going to let this rule me anymore.”

When we bring our darkness into his Light, he shows us truth.

Like my son with his headlamp, we can see the shadows aren’t able to defeat us. Though they lurk, they can never stand a chance against his perfect love.

Friend, no matter what you’re going through today, know this: God sees. Bring your fears, your problems and your sickness into his Light today. Tell someone you trust. Take a step forward.

His healing power begins when we reach for his hand.

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

 

When You Feel Too Small to Make a Difference

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

Several months ago, my husband and firstborn were almost hit by a car.

They walked toward our vehicle after a baseball game, and a woman backing up didn’t see them. My husband picked up our son, moving him out of the car’s path, and braced himself for impact.

Thankfully, the woman saw them at the last second. She jumped out of her car, hysterical and apologizing. My husband remained calm and told her they were okay, not wanting to add to her already panicked state.

They drove away from that night safe, but my son was never the same.

“Dadda, that car was going to hit you,” he said.

“Yes. It was. And whose job is it to protect you?”

“Yours,” he said, reflecting on what happened.

He’d heard it over and over. But that evening in early spring, he saw it. The words became real to him. And he knew his dad wasn’t tossing out some clichéd phrase or trying to soothe his fears with empty promises.

He meant it. He took ownership of those words in a moment where his life was at stake.

When we see love in action, it changes us.

It propels us. We see glimpses of a Creator who displayed the ultimate act of love in his death. But often, we get distracted. I’ll be the first to admit I’m guilty.

We live in a world where we are bombarded with countless alerts, news feeds and opinions. When someone expresses her deepest grief, we can respond without even typing words. A simple click-hold and we can choose from a range of five emotions. What more do we need right?

Every time I open my laptop, I am reminded how much apathy consumes our world. When I dwell on it, my mind goes to a dark place.

But do you know what God whispers to me when I’m sitting in the quiet? When I don’t feel big enough to make a difference or loud enough to be heard, he whispers two short words.

Show up.

When your friend receives the diagnosis and you don’t know what to say, show up.

When you don’t see your widowed, disabled neighbor for days, show up.

When your son breaks down in tears at the bus stop, show up.

I know the power of showing up because I’ve been on the receiving end of it. A few months before our first son arrived, a new acquaintance gave me her phone number and told me to call if I needed anything. I was in a new town, over two thousand miles from family, and I only knew a few people. But after giving birth I went through a dark season. I struggled to make it to bedtime.

In the midst of depression, lack of sleep and long days in an empty house, I forgot the promise of friendship.

I didn’t think to call because I was simply trying to survive.

Until she showed up. Uninvited, at my front door, with treats in hand and her kids on each side of her. I was in my PJs and it was after noon, but she didn’t care. What she cared about was me.

Like my son who saw his dad become a superhero, I saw love in action that day. I saw a person who wasn’t throwing out empty words, but was willing to be a friend. Even when it was uncomfortable. Even when it felt as though I didn’t have anything to offer.

I want to be that person. I want to be the one who sticks around even when everyone else leaves. I want to put skin in the game and love like I mean it. Will you join me?

When we do, lives are changed.

When we take off the blinders of the everyday and see what’s in the peripheral, love becomes real.

 

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God…” 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

Crushed By My Own Expectations

My turn to share was coming, and I wasn’t ready. While the other women on our Google chat discussed their writing goals, my mind spun on repeat. Summer gave this word a whole new meaning, and I was still processing it.

Ah yes, goals. What were those again? My goal yesterday was to keep the boys playing outside for more than twenty minutes before they came back in screaming from bloodied knees and bumps on heads. Today it was to make it to bedtime without yelling.

Sometimes my goals vary by the hour. It’s my first summer with three kids at home, and my mental capacity seems to wane a little more each minute.

This afternoon I turned my head to see our eight-month old trying to eat a dart our son left on the floor. (Don’t gasp; it was foam and rubber) Fortunately we were able to dislodge it from her death grip before she added purple styrofoam to her diet.

So, needless to say this Google chat was a welcome diversion where I could talk to other women like an actual adult. I listened to plans about our shared passion for writing and encouraging other women. It was bliss.

But my mind wasn’t on the future. It was on all the ways I’d failed over these summer months.

Click here to read the rest of this post and join us at Abby’s place for today’s #RaRaLinkup. Can’t wait to see you there!

When Your Past Returns to Haunt You

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“Are you a pagan?”

I sat in a body-piercing studio with the owner gazing at a tattoo displayed on the nave of my back. It was a gnome, sitting on a mushroom and playing a fife. Everything about it screamed pot-smoker, hippy and apparently, pagan.

And to think I got it because I thought it looked cool. To me it said, “Outsider,” a label I gave myself during my younger years.

The man’s question caught me off guard. I was twenty-one at the time and wasn’t sure who I was, let alone what I believed.

“I don’t know,” I answered honestly. The artist seemed as surprised by my answer as I was. Immediately, I felt ashamed.

Who was this person, anyway?

I spent the next eight years trying to figure out the answer to that question. Eventually, I realized all of the places I ran to seek my identity were fickle and fading.

It wasn’t until I started with the One who gave me my eternal name that I would know my true self.

These days, my tattoo is usually hidden. But the other day, while on family vacation, I was changing into my swimsuit and my five-year-old saw it.

“Mama, what’s that on your back?”

I told him what the picture was and explained how a tattoo is like a permanent picture on your skin. Then, my mind went back. Back to the person I was. Back to the mistakes I made and the years I spent wasting my life. Things much bigger than a silly tattoo that shape the person I am today.

For a little while, I let the voice of condemnation darken the light in my soul.

Scenes of things I wish I’d never seen replayed in my mind. Faces of people who left this life for the next one burned in my memory and left my heart heavy.

Perhaps you’ve been there? You’re walking in the new life Jesus freely gave you, and then all of a sudden you’re hit with a blatant reminder of the mess you used to be? That, despite your best efforts, some days you still are?

In those dark moments when I’m not sure I can escape my past, God often gives me a reminder. This time was no different.

We arrived at the pool and found it closed because of an incoming storm. After playing for a while in the arcade next door, we made our way back to the campsite. As we made dinner, a beautiful site caught my eye.

A spectacular sunset over the river.

The sun was big and radiant, dipping to the horizon in a circular blanket of clouds. I hurriedly got my camera and ran down to the beach.

I must of snapped a dozen pictures, but when I flipped through them in my viewfinder I was disappointed. This huge ball of light and fire looked tiny and dim. I couldn’t capture its draw. It was uncontainable.

As I sat in our camper later that evening, I felt that gentle whisper in my spirit.

Don’t try to put limits on my grace, Abby. It’s more limitless than the sun.”

And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

John 1:16 ESV

I was putting God in a box again, thinking I could somehow run outside his grace. But it doesn’t just cover me. It drenches me.

We can’t put finite limitations on the grace of an infinite God.

And the moment we stop trying to put God in a box, we find we don’t want Him there. We find freedom. We find joy and rest.

So today, if your past is trying to haunt you, take a lesson from my tattoo. Remember it shapes you, but it doesn’t define you.

God can take the shattered pieces of your life and turn them into something far more spectacular than a sunset. He does it each and every day. Sometimes we just need a reminder of who he is.

Sometimes we have to take him out of the box and come to the altar. 

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

Has God Forgotten Me?

Forgotten Me

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

As soon as we walked in the home, a musty, mothball smell hit me. I looked around at sawdust and unfinished projects.

The place reeked of forgotten potential. It was like Fixer Upper gone bad.

While the bathrooms were redone, the floors desperately needed refinishing. The roof and deck were new, but holes gaped in the unpainted walls.

All of it spelled a big fat “no” in my mind, but my husband saw possibilities. I saw a long list of work, but he saw a future home for our family.

Less than two months later, that’s exactly what this abandoned house became. We painted, put up fixtures, and stained floors. We brought lots of love, sweat and tears.

Our family of three eventually grew to a family of five, and we’re still adding projects to a list that keeps growing. When one job is finished, there is inevitably another one waiting. But you know what? We keep pressing forward. Day by day, moment by moment.

When I think back on my first impressions of this place, I see lessons waiting to be learned. I start projects, get distracted and lose momentum. As a stay-at-home mom and writer, I face isolation and loneliness, and then let discouragement convince me to place my dreams on a shelf.

Like an old, abandoned fixer-upper, I forget my potential. More than that, I forget where my potential comes from: Christ in me.

A few weeks ago, I confided in some close friends how I felt shelved and forgotten. Like an old, dusty knick-knack left next to a book you bought but never read. At one point I was brutally honest about how I was feeling and came to God with my troubles. Do you know what I found? Feelings are often liars.

There is a well-known character in scripture who may have felt forgotten by God too. His name was Noah. We read about him and see a hero and a giant in the faith. We picture a man who heard God and stepped out in obedience. And he was.

But there was a period when Noah didn’t hear from God. At least, there is no record of God speaking in him in scripture. After telling Noah to get in the ark and sending the flood, for all we know God is silent.

When I heard this story as a child, I always thought the rain came down for forty days and then the rainbow appeared, but that’s not what scripture says. In addition to the forty days of rain, the waters flooded the earth for 150 days.

That’s a long time to be tossed in stormy waters and hear nothing.

Do you think Noah felt forgotten? He had no one except his family and a bunch of wild animals as his companions. Do you think he wondered where God was?

I know I would have. But God didn’t forget Noah or his promise. Not for one second.

But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.

Genesis 8:1 NIV

Whenever scripture says “God remembered” it means he’s about to take action on his promises. In other words, he didn’t forget or take a vacation. He’s true to his word.

God can use seasons when we feel forgotten to help us remember the Author and Finisher of our faith. 

To help us remember our faith isn’t in results or happy outcomes or lack of struggles. Our faith is in a living, breathing person who will complete the work he began.

It isn’t up to us to do it on our own. And aren’t you glad? Our job is to take the next God-ordained step. And then the next one after that.

Even when the waters rise, he is there. He goes with us. And when the sun comes out and the flood recedes, he’ll be there to show us the way home.

 

Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.

Why Our Attempts to Create Our Own Personal Jesus Will Fail Every Time

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I used to approach friendship with a long list of expectations. Things I thought a friend should do. A space I thought my friend should fill.

Instead of extending grace, I was disappointed when friends didn’t follow through with what they said they’d do. I didn’t care whether they had kids and or whether the unexpected happened.

All I saw was my set of rules.

“A true friend wouldn’t do that.”

“If she was your friend, she would keep her word.”

What’s even sadder is I approached my relationship with God the same way. Instead of coming to the throne of grace wanting to know him, I came with my expectations.

But my expectations weren’t based on promises in his Word. They were based on my notions of what he should be and what he should do for me.

“If he is God, he will answer this prayer.”

“He didn’t answer this prayer, so he must not care about me.”

All this time I walked around feeling lonely and defeated, God still loved me. He still heard my prayers and you know what? He still answered them.

He just didn’t answer them in the way I wanted or expected. During a season, I didn’t see his hand at all because I was so razor focused on certain details of my life.

When we try to create our own personal Jesus, we will fail every time. Because God is not a god of our creation. He is infinite, going far beyond our limited minds.

But what’s amazing is we can have a relationship with him. When we want more of him, he meets us where we are. He gives us his Word as a living tool to guide us and show us his heart. Take the story about Mary and Martha, for example.

Most of us know this story, and Martha often gets a bad rap. This pains me, because what Martha did wasn’t wrong. Serving God and wanting help was not the issue.

The problem was instead of expecting Jesus to be God, Martha expected Jesus to do what she wanted. She came with her expectations and preconceived ideas of what a Messiah who cared would do. When he didn’t meet her expectations, she was disappointed.

Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?

Luke 10:40 ESV

In other words, “Lord if you cared you would not let her leave me here.”

And Jesus corrects her not out of condemnation, but out of love. He says Mary chose what was more important. Mary chose knowing him.

Friends, we will always have expectations. It’s how our brains are wired and God knows this.

But freedom comes when we’re willing to hold loosely to our expectations and come to him in surrender. When we say, “God, I may not understand what you’re doing but I trust that you love me anyway.”

When we let go of our notions of who we think God should be, we can know him for who he truly is.

He is faithful to give us glimpses of his character and love. He shows us his ways and his plans and gives us hope.

Let’s lay our aside our expectations today and come to him with open hands.

Let’s have faith in what we don’t see, and bring glory to the One who sees us.

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Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.