A good friend recently commented on how a spark seems to be in my eyes again, and how from pictures it seems like the happiest they’ve seen me in years.
At first, I wanted to be defensive, almost taken aback by the idea that I haven’t seemed “happy” for years. I mean come on, of course I’ve been happy! Sure, I’ve had some trials and deep valleys over the years, but each time I slapped a smile on my face and carried on.
After prayer, reflection, and some processing, I came to the realization that my friend might in fact be right. Or more like…. she was right. Righter than I care to admit.
Not necessarily in regard to evaluating my happiness over the years, but more so in the spark that she sees, and I so clearly feel deep in my bones. That spark; that unwavering faith, that peace, that deep connection that I can’t quite put to words is there in a way that it’s never been before.
People have always explained and told stories about how life just becomes “more” when you’re standing perfectly in God’s will. Like it’s this big thing you just cannot describe. I always questioned the concept. It never quite made sense to me, how can life just suddenly become more? Then, during my devotional time and diving deep into why my friend’s comment cut me in the wrong way, it hit me: I understood what people meant. That spark, that feeling I can’t quite put to words, that’s the “more”.
This right here, in the middle of Uganda, is the more.
More peace, more faith, more strength, more closeness, more, more, more… How have I missed this all these years? The more is the spark that is recognized in the world as “happiness”. It’s what people see as an overflow of my life submitted to the One who made it. It’s the fruit of following Jesus first and surrendering my wants, my desires, my plans to Him completely and fully.
The more, is less.
To be honest, it’s unknown territory, that’s what it is.
You see, I’m an Enneagram 3 with a 4 wing. If you know anything about the Enneagram then you know I thrive on achievement, on appearance, on looking like I have my life put together into this teeny tiny box with a big bow on top. The 3 in me wants to portray a picture of success at all costs, because that’s what matters most. Or so, that’s what the enemy would like me to believe. In reality, that is just a ploy to cover my failures, cover my wounds, cover my shame in an effort to feel even the slightest bit deserving of love. 3’s believe that success earns love, while failure becomes unlovable. I’m not worthy of love unless I’m succeeding. So, I built my life on that false belief and created a false image, striving to earn love while at the core, I really just wanted to be fully known and loved for who I am. The real and true me.
Here’s where the problem lies… How can anyone fully love me for who I am, if even I don’t know? I realized during that devotional and quiet time with God that I’d gotten so accustomed to pretending to be “happy” over the years, that I almost convinced myself I was. I put on the mask, I glued on a smile, and I carried on with every weight of shame, failure, guilt, and regret neatly wrapped in that teeny tiny box. But the box was busting at the seams, so close to giving way and exploding all over my perfectly kept life with the ugly truth of who I was and who I am.
But, God. (one of my favorite quotes) But, God. He intervened. He healed. He strengthened, and He reminded me that all those deep dark places have purpose. Those failures became success in other ways, through lessons learned and giving me the courage to walk in faith.
Those times of guilt gave way to grace, when I admitted them out loud to my Savior. That feeling of regret, and that shame, left from choices made in my past, those were covered in forgiveness and used in a redemption story for someone else. Each of those areas that I spent my whole life clinging to, my whole life trying to cover, my whole life trying to forget and run from, BUT GOD, already forgave. BUT GOD, He continues to love.
There I was in the middle of the floor, pouring my heart out to the Lord crying for clarity, and it became so simple, so clear. That spark. That spark changes everything.
You see, that spark, that peace, that marks my surrender. It marks my letting go of everything that I’ve spent my whole life protecting and building up. While I built that wall up brick by brick, Jesus was slowly tearing it down. Whispering “let go”, revealing to me that to live fully for Him, I first had to give it all up. Because that spark, that closeness I feel to Jesus – that is worth giving up everything for.
So, after four weeks of living in Uganda, fully dependent on God for strength, encouragement, safety, and protection, the message continued to be the same. “Let go”. So, I did.
I resigned from my teaching position at a school I love, with coworkers that feel like family. I resigned from teaching a cohort of kiddos that I’ve been looking forward to teaching for the past two years, counting down the days to be their teacher again. To be close to their families again. Instead, I let go.
Without a backup plan, without a next step, without a new job.
I let go of my plan. I let go of my title. I let go of my identity in what I do. I gave it all up to pursue Jesus first. Luke 9:57-63 speaks about how nothing should come first before pursuing Christ. Not family, not a job, not a teaching license, not friends, nothing.
It doesn’t make sense, and to many I’m sure it sounds crazy, but honestly, to me, there’s never been a stronger sense of peace. That spark fully ablaze to keep walking in step and in God’s will. Saying yes when He calls – no matter the extreme.
I’m not sure what this next chapter of life will look like, but I know fully and completely that God will provide in a far bigger and better way than anything I could have hoped for.
In chapter 11, Luke goes on to talk about praying boldly, with the right motives and the right heart. To ask boldly with the right purpose in mind.
So I am. My bold prayer is that God opens an opportunity to stay in Uganda. To make a home here. To live fully and completely dependent on Him to serve the people of this beautiful nation. To keep that spark alive and that connection deep to the One who knows and loves me fully.
The real and true me, even with every title, purpose, style, and status ripped away, fully bearing my every mistake, every failure, with all the shame and regret, out in the open, knowing fully that God still loves me. He still forgives me.
And at the end of the day, stripped of all other identities, I’m just Blake, a daughter of the one true King, and that is the best identity of them all.
Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”Luke 9:23