Grace Upon Grace

I’m not really big on birthdays, but I turned a year older this week and found myself doing a lot of extra reflecting. I’m usually — well, still am — the busy bee in the house, bustling out and about every single day, but I took a step back this week to do some introspective thinking. I’m the type of person that processes things as they go, and mulling things quietly to myself isn’t something that I tend to do on a regular basis. But I did that this past week because I found myself to be alone at home, so I was forced to reflect and have a lot of quiet time to myself. (All of my introverted friends should be so proud.)

So after all that personal reflection, I’d like to take the time to flesh out my thoughts in writing, and to share it with y’all.

I think I can say that in my short life thus far, this past year has been one of the most rewarding, albeit challenging. Or maybe I’m biased because I have selective memory and the past year is still fairly recent in my memory. Regardless, many trials and unexpected blessings occurred that stretched my faith and caused me to trust in God through the good times, the bad, and the mundane. And I’m so thankful and glad for all that’s happened. I’m grateful for the friendships along the way, people that really supported and prayed for me and walked with me through it all. Praise God for them.

In a nutshell, all this happened within the past year: I’ve dated, broken up, resigned from my job, dealt with family crises, took upon more ministry opportunities at church, started a new job, learned how to resolve and handle sticky, drama-like situations, and trained for my first half marathon. Not exactly in that chronological order and probably not the best summary of all that happened. But I guess those are the biggest events that come to mind. All in all, what a humbling year. I’m amazed at the depths of my sins, but also at how wonderful God is — how vast is His grace and love for me.

As I was reliving all these past events through my trip down memory lane, I made up a little short list of what I really want to do as I turned a year older. I’ve been trying to pray for myself more, to ask God for strength and guidance for the times ahead. I look back on this year and see both the areas where I’ve wasted so much time in and areas where there was tremendous fruitfulness. My continual hope is to shine for Jesus and be a living testimony for him in all that I do and say. 

Put family above friends and church ministries.

It’s honestly hard to balance all three. I find it kind of ironic that I wrestle with sacrificing time with friends and serving others in order to spend and serve my family. Ironic because I grew up being a pastor’s kid, and I sometimes felt resentful that my parents were constantly serving. However, I think they still did a pretty good job of prioritizing our family above church ministry. I have to be reminded that who I am at home really reveals my true colors. Furthermore, I need to demonstrate the same love, care, and time to my family that I do to others outside of my home. In some ways, I find it easier to love other people because my family sees me at my worst. Doing dishes at home or helping around the house may not seem all that exciting, but even in the littlest of things, I need to honor God through them. Sometimes the people that know us best can also be hard to love since we take their love for granted.

Invest in the younger and older generations at church.

I am incredibly spoiled to be a part of a community that is multi-generational. It’s one of many reasons why I love my church so much, and am so thankful to be worshiping with them every week. When I was doing a lot of my reflections this past week, I kept thinking about my junior high and high school youth group counselors. I don’t talk to them anymore or see much of them except on Facebook, but they were instrumental workers in my life. So many of them prayed and showed me love when I was hard to love. They drove me to youth group, invited me out to meals, and showered me with encouragement notes and gifts. I am a Christian today largely in part of their faithfulness to God. They never expected anything in return from me. Because of their impact on my life, and just how they demonstrated Christ-likeness to me, I want to do the same for the younger generation at my church. Oftentimes they may be the hardest to reach, and like all ministry goes, it can be discouraging when we don’t see immediate, tangible fruit, but we need to remind ourselves that we’re called to serve out of an overflowing love for God. While it’s nice to see fruits from our labor, it’s not necessary. Youth ministry may be difficult, but it’s a worthy investment.

In terms of investing more in the older generation, I’ve found that there’s so much wisdom to be gleaned from them. Why seek wisdom from Google when there are living, breathing people who have faced similar struggles in life, people that have walked similar paths? The experiences that they’ve stored up is akin to a treasure field, filled up with various kinds of gems and jewels. As a younger person, I need to take initiative to seek out these relationships because they’re available to me. This past year, I tried to get to know some of the aunties at church and found those meetups extremely helpful and precious. I was surprised at how much these women sacrificed their time to serve when they had so much on their plates. And I was also pleasantly surprised at how much encouragement I received from them, and how they were encouraged by me as well. I honestly don’t know if I’ll be at my current church for the rest of my life, but during this particular stage of my life, I want to take advantage that I’m surrounded by such godly ladies that pursue Christ. Praise God for them.

Keep running and training for races.

I definitely don’t like exercising alone, so being able to train and run with other people that keep me accountable is such a joy. Not only have I seen an improvement in my overall health and well-being, but exercising with friends is actually pretty fun. I think I have a lot of good conversations while running or weightlifting with friends. I am definitely planning on doing some more races in the months to come, just because I want to continue to improve on my physical stamina. It takes a lot of discipline and time to train, but it’s worth it.

Savor singleness and be completed satisfied in Jesus.

I’m including this one on this list because as a twenty-some-year-old with lots of dating/engaged/married friends, I get asked about my relationship status a lot. It seems to be the #1 question these days and I feel like half of the time when I’m catching up with people, they anticipate a happy update in this aspect of my life. Unfortunately for them, being in a new relationship is probably the last thing that I’d want for myself right now. Though I still desire marriage, I can’t imagine getting myself into a relationship. I like singleness. In fact, I treasure being single right now. During this time, I hope to deepen my relationship with God and I want to spend my time on other people that he’s placed in my life. I find that I am more available to reach out to newcomers or to serve because I’m not in a dating relationship. This isn’t to say that someone who’s in a dating relationship can’t do all the things that I do, but based on my experiences in dating, time is much more limited.

It is, however, difficult to not compare myself to my friends and to think that I’m somehow “behind.” There is a feeling of loneliness in being alone without a significant other. Sometimes it is a struggle, and some days more so than others. But whatever I feel is only temporary, because I know that loneliness will come whether I’m in a relationship or not. What I always need is Jesus, and nothing else can take his place. I believe that this singleness chapter in my life is such a blessing. It is a gift. I want it to also be an effective season and I pray that it would be a fruitful time as well. I don’t want it to go to waste, where I’m distracted by worldly things or that I’d just sit around and wait. Now’s not the time. I want my season of being not-yet-married to be a blessing to others, where I can use my resources and talents to encourage and point others to my Savior.

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If you’ve reached the end of this post, thank you for taking the time out of your day to read my rambling thoughts. Whether I know you as a friend in real life or you’re an anonymous online lurker, I am thankful for you.

What a blessing it is to be alive, and not only alive, but saved by grace through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Here’s to another year of growth and refinement! Cheers!

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8 Comments

  1. Tiffanie says:

    Yeahhh! Happy birthday again! Praise God for another year of life! And yes, we introverts are happy you are able to have some quiet, alone time! (fist bump)

    I really appreciate that you brought up the multi-generational bit. There is the tendency to segregate between the generations, and even when older generation try to reach out to the younger, the younglin’ don’t always want to be in the presence of old-timers or even young adults, sometimes out of mistrust or even judgment (identity struggles).
    Time spent with the different age groups is important, and this myself I struggle with (I still feel uncomfortable around elementary/middle schoolers, and rowdy 9th//10th graders).

    Liked by 1 person

    • endorap says:

      Wow, thanks for the comment, TI! I laughed when you gave me a fist bump online for spending some quiet time. You would. 😛

      I’m so glad you resonated with the multi-generational part. You know, it’s interesting that you mentioned we struggle with the younger generations. Interesting because it wasn’t that long ago when we were of the same age as those we’re trying to reach out to. Of course, there are generation “gaps,” so to speak, and different cultural values for each generation that arises. However, I think we can find common ground within the church. Even for elementary-high schoolers who may or may not be saved, we can reach out to them because of the overflowing joy we have for Christ. And I think it doesn’t really matter what their responses are. (I mean, to think about it, I’m sure we were flaky and not as responsive when we were their ages, too. So I’m pretty sure we can relate to them.) We’re just called to be faithful. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Janna says:

    ALONE TIMEEEE!!!

    FAMILY TIMEE!!!

    SINGLENESS TIMEE!!

    i think back to our conversations just a year ago and how so much has happened. and at the end of the day, through the ups and downs, and laughs and cries, 23 was a tremendous year of growth and God’s faithfulness!

    p.s. anonymous online lurker..hahahha

    Liked by 1 person

    • endorap says:

      Seriously, it was quite an unforgettable year. So much growing pains but it was all worth it. I’m excited to see how God will continue to teach us dependence on Him and to be more fearful of Him. Also stoked that I get to grow alongside you! 🙂

      Like

  3. Arwen says:

    Such wonderfulness! You’re really lucky to be part of a multigenerational church, but it’s also great that you take advantage of that.

    Singleness! Tis a good time. I remember when people would ask about relationships all the time while I was in that stage. It does make one feel like you’re missing out on something. I think you do very well taking advantage of your singleness though, serving and investing in people. That gets harder once you’re in a relationship and more of your focus turns to your significant other. If you think balancing your relationships now is hard…….Hahaha. Well, something to look forward to. =p

    You’re awesome! I really liked this post. Good times this year.

    Like

    • endorap says:

      I knooooowww. I’m so incredibly blessed by my church family. This is why I don’t think I can move anywhere else (for now). Thanks for affirming me because there are times when I feel as if I’m not doing enough. I guess I want to be out on the field somewhere doing missions, forgetting that missions is everywhere– including inside the church (serving the unsaved young’uns) to those at work.

      I’m half-amused whenever people ask, because sometimes I think they’re asking because they expect me to be dating, only to find out that I’m not. And their reactions are quite amusing, as if there’s something terribly wrong that I’m still single hahaha. My parents have started praying even more fervently for me in this area, which I also find quite entertaining. I appreciate the prayers from them though. I know it gets busier when one starts dating, and then even more so after one gets married. After all, both of your social circles start to collide, and then there’s your families to consider too. Like I said, I’m treasuring this time of not having to deal with that yet.

      Yup, what a crazy year. Thanks for being a part of it! ❤

      Like

  4. Aaron says:

    Happy belated! I like your conclusions and I hope you revisit this post in another year to see where you’ve grown. I think the goal of putting family first is a good one to have! To take care and minister in your home and family is something I’m learning and glad we can pursue it together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • endorap says:

      I’m so thankful for your friendship, Aaron. It’s been fun to worship and serve alongside with you. Thanks for being a good shepherd and worship leader too.

      I definitely will probably revisit this post again in a year. I mean, I want be stretched more and grow consistently in my walk with Christ. Keep pursuing sanctification in your marriage and strive for holiness. I love how you and J are able to serve Him together and be a blessing to others, Keep it up! Excited to see what else God has in store for you two!

      Like

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