have to, get to, desperately want to.

These past few weeks have been good but different, and while at the moment I want to say I’m in a little bit of a spiritual funk, thinking back.. I’ve spent more time with Jesus lately than I have in a long time. I’ve been fired up, passionate, and intentional about my conversations and my time. Overall I’ve felt good, but right now I feel -for lack of a better word- blah. All day long I’ve been trying to put my finger on it. Why do I feel this way? What is going on? And two words kept coming up over and over again: have to.

Moving here, Mike and I had (have) high expectations for ourselves. Moving away is a fresh start, something brand new. We can be whoever we want to be and we don’t have to worry about everyone knowing everything about our pasts. We loved our lives in Maryland, don’t get me wrong, but we wanted (want) to be better versions of ourselves here. We want to get into healthier routines and habits and be more intentional with our relationships and growth in God. There were so many conversations about that – who we were going to be down here, what was going to look the same, what was going to be different. It didn’t take long for my constant need for control to take over, which leads me to the two words: have to. 

I have to be a better wife to my husband: I have to trust him more, I have to let him lead, I have to stop trying to control him and his relationship with the Lord.
I have to be a better Christian: I have to find a church home and get involved immediately, I have to make friends there, I have to never miss a Sunday. I have to volunteer, I have to listen to old sermons. I have to have at least thirty minutes of quiet time each day. I have to pray without ceasing, I have to worship more.
I have to be a better friend: I have to have intentional conversations daily. I have to challenge and encourage them. I have to be available. I have to be on – positive – happy. I have to make friends from all different areas of my life.
I have to be a better human: I have to work out daily to be healthy. I have to start losing more weight so that I can have a baby one day. I have to stop eating dessert, I have to start eating all my fruits and vegetables. I have to set huge goals for myself and make sure I meet them.

I have to keep up with a cleaning schedule for my home. I have to help out around the house. I have to work work work and get out of my student loan debt. I have to stop spending too much. I have to find a place for us to live.

Have to. Have to. Have to. The list could go on and on.

Seriously. In my mind, I have to do these things. This is my chance to be better. What I realized is that setting these things up as “have to’s” in my life was setting myself up for failure. Of course I haven’t done all of those things consistently. The plan totally backfired and has since turned me into a controlling, bitter human being that feels like a total failure. Constantly disappointing yourself over and over again is not good for your heart and soul.

So yesterday I was thinking to a sermon by Francis Chan and I was a little distracted by my thoughts and I suddenly heard him say something along the lines of, “And we get to do that. We get to change for Jesus.” GET TO? I literally don’t know if I’ve ever had that mindset. What a shift in perspective. We do have to do these things for Jesus, we GET to do these things – and what they lead to is pretty amazing.

I have get to be a better wife to my husband: I’ll trust him more, I’ll get to experience and learn about the way he leads, I have to stop trying to control him and his relationship with the Lord, He will grow in his faith the way God want him to, not me.
I have get to be a better Christian: I get to find a church home and get involved immediately, I get to make friends there, I get to have a place I want to be every Sunday. I get to volunteer, I get to listen to old sermons to learn something new. I get to have at least thirty minutes of quiet time each day, I get to pray without ceasing, I get to worship – how incredible is it that we GET to do these things? That we can be this close to a God that loves and created us. That we can feel His presence. That we can learn from Him. This is BEAUTIFUL, not a burden. What was I thinking?
I have to be a better friend: I have to have intentional conversations daily. I have to challenge and encourage them. I have to be available. I have to be on – positive – happy. I have to make friends from all different areas of my life.
I have get to be a better human: I get to work out daily to be healthy because my body allows me to do so. I get to start losing more weight so that I can be in the best shape for my children and my pregnancies (maybe).  I get to set huge goals for myself and I get to experience a sense of accomplishment when I meet them.

I get to keep up with a cleaning schedule for my home, that some people may not have. I get to help out around the house as a way to show my gratitude for such great friends that took us in. I get to work work work BECAUSE of my student loan debt that led to my college degree. I get to stop spending too much and learn to save and budget for my family. I get to find a place for us to live, a place for us to call home.

It’s a game changer. Even typing it all out was therapeutic for me. I am not naive enough to think I’ll never have a “have to” thought again. I probably will again later today. But this is a start. A shift in my thinking and every time I say “have to” I will be reminded of this lesson that I need to learn over and over again.

So here’s what I desperately want: I desperately want to know what it feels like to completely surrender to Jesus and give up my control. I desperately want GRACE to be my gut reaction – to others and to myself. I desperately want to live a life that glorifies God, that points others to Him – and not just in my blog posts. I desperately want to be closer to Jesus – and I want to WANT to do the hard things in my life, knowing that they will lead me somewhere great. Most of all, I desperately want to accept that the struggle is part of it. That these are the moments that shape us.

So Jesus, change my heart. Hear my prayer: change. my. heart. I desperately want to be more like You.

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