Sophomore Stress and Coffee Shop Thoughts

I feel like a fraud. Sitting here at Aspen Coffee, sipping chai tea and blogging about my life (my #whitegirl game is too strong) – I feel like the real Alli is miles away from this façade I have created.

I am lost, confused and scared in more ways than I understand, and I have mastered the art of concealment.

Don’t get me wrong, friends. I love life, and I love college. But I have once again let stress and worries and fears monopolize my thinking and confuse my identity.

This summer, I sought God and ran toward Him in ways I never had before. And I felt loved. I felt whole. I felt new, and I felt like life was going the way it was supposed to. And then, school started.

All my free time, all my creativity, all my God-fearing was gone. I promised myself not to get too busy – and I did. I promised myself not to let grades define me – and I have. I promised myself to love people more – and I haven’t.

On the outside, I filter my life. I study hard to get all A’s; I join philanthropies and student organizations, and I serve twice a week at my church. And I love doing that. I love being busy. I love serving others. But in the process of doing things for God, I have forgotten to do things with Him.

Last week, my pastor preached about “dropping the veil” and opening our hearts. Talk about a reality check. I pretend like I have it all together, but on the inside I feel discontented, alone and frazzled.

I have started finding my identity in other people, in other clubs and my own efforts, and every single time I will end up empty. I know all of the right answers. I know I’m supposed to let go and trust God. But some part of me just can’t surrender. And that makes me feel worse.

But the crazy thing is that in all of my chaos, in all of my doubt, in all of my stubbornness, God is there. He hasn’t moved. I can sprint in the opposite direction for miles and still His loving arms are waiting for me.

God loves me in my brokenness. He loves me when I reject Him. And He loves me when I think He isn’t enough.

This all-consuming love is more than I can understand, and it blows my mind every day to think that I could be so perfectly loved by the Creator of the universe. And lately, I’ve been taking it for granted.

I have given so much time to school and organizations and work that I have neglected my relationships. And I feel lonely and disheartened at the lack of time I have poured into my friends.

God created me to love – in fact, the very essence of Christianity, the very essence of life itself is to love one another. That’s how people see Jesus – not in obeying rules and regulations but in loving people unashamedly.

God created me to spend time with Him and delight in His word. And too often, I find myself saying “Sorry, God. I’m too busy today.”

How ridiculous is that? The same God who loves me at my lowest, comforts me when I deny Him and sent Jesus to die for my sinful heart is the same God that I ignore.

But despite my denial and despite my neglect, God still loves me. And He still wants me. And He still makes me new.

The wildest thing about this stressful, intense week is the depths of God’s mercy in it all. My stomach has been in knots, an elephant-sized weight has been on my chest and I have made myself physically sick from stress. But God sees my struggles. And the most beautiful thing is that in my weakness, in my emptiness, in my pain – He gives me strength.

Last Wednesday, I reached a low point. I was stress crying in the classroom building bathroom, and I knew I needed to stop hiding from God. So I pulled up YouVersion, and God showed me how much he cares for me. I read not one, but three devotionals that freed my heart (as well as a text of encouragement from my best friend):

“With God’s help, we can claim more than mere survival – we can claim victory. Look for ways God can use your distress as an opportunity to show his mighty power.”

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which transcends all understanding. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

And then, friends, if I wasn’t already crying and in awe of my God, I read this:

“No one is smart enough, beautiful enough or wealthy enough to successfully navigate life without God’s help.

“Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects its city, guarding it will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night; anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to His loved ones.” – Psalms 127:1-3

Oh, how He loves me. God sees my hurt, and He gives me rest. He gives me peace. He gives me freedom. That doesn’t mean He solves all my problems on my terms. It doesn’t mean I get the outcomes I want. But it does mean that I can trust that He will carry me.

I have been trying to glorify God with things when all He really wants is me. God doesn’t need me to save the world because He took care of that one already. God just wants me to communicate with Him and live loved.

So, I am stressing. And I am broken. But in my weakness, God is stronger than I could ever dream of being, and He is enough for me – even when I feel like I need more.

I am so thankful to serve a God who loves me despite my failures and holds me when I am hurting. I may not always feel like it, but I am so loved and so blessed.

Rock on, friends.

Love Always,
your hipster, overly- caffeinated, terrible-with- titles,

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