This entry is modified from a club talk I gave to Young Life College students on December 3, 2015.
When I came into my freshmen year of college at the University of Kansas, no different than any other young 18-year-old who had a conviction to follow Jesus, I saw two paths laid out before me. On one side, I saw the “typical college experience” of going out to parties and bars and dating other athletes along with many of my softball teammates. On the other, I saw this crazy and fun Young Life community of students who were all seeking the Lord and wanting to live lives of serving God. The boys asked me out on real, old-fashioned dates (well, my husband Kevin beat any others who may have done the same and the rest is history) and their parties didn’t involve alcohol – but somehow managed to be more enjoyable. As I began to choose the path God was calling me down, while not always easy, this is where my Christian journey truly begins.
I’ve titled this post simply “Three things I’ve learned” and my hope is that I can be fairly short, clear, and concise. Here’s just a few things I’ve learned over the past six years since walking with the Lord.
Winter break of my freshmen year of college is a good example of a time in my life where I embraced discipline. My sister Rosie and I made an agreement that over winter break, we would hold each other accountable and not plan anything else in our day until we had done our offseason softball workouts and went to the batting cages. Five days a week for the entire six weeks of winter break, we were in the gym and the indoor facility every morning. We worked hard and we got better. Because of this discipline and hard work, I earned a starting position my freshmen season, which was a catalyst to my entire softball career at Kansas. By embracing discipline that winter break, it reaped rewards on the softball field.
1 Timothy 4:7-8 says “Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding value for both the present life and the life to come.”
Physical training is perhaps one of the best metaphors that we have for how discipline produces the results that you want, right? Work out, eat healthy and you’ll lose weight. Yet the Bible says clearly here that physical training is of some value, so then, how much more valuable is our training for godliness?
Hebrews 12:11 says “For in the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
There have been seasons of my life where learning different disciplines were not fun. I was only 18 when I met my husband Kevin. I can tell you right now, it was not “fun” to have to set boundaries for four years as we fought for purity in our relationship. But can I tell you that now, on the other side, how worth it it’s been and how much the Lord has blessed our marriage and our ministries because of our faithfulness to place God above one another.
I also encourage you to embrace the spiritual discipline of prayer and spending regular time in God’s Word. I know sometimes “it’s hard” and you have school, work, friends, and other demands. But I am here to tell you that from what I’ve learned, it’s actually not that hard. It’s not that hard to wake up 30 minutes earlier than you would have otherwise and start your day off reading the Bible and praying. To watch one less episode of your favorite show on Netflix and spend time reading your Bible. Yes it’s a discipline, but if you embrace this discipline, it will create in you true life change. Through this simple discipline God has given me a desire and a love for His Word and it has slowly, yet surely, completely transformed me as a person.
Embrace discipline. I promise it’s worth it.
Embrace the Uncomfortable
Embracing the uncomfortable covers a wide range of applications. I am just going to take the time to apply them specifically to building relationships.
What I’ll say first is that sometimes it’s really uncomfortable to initiate relationships in general, whether friendships or dating. So often I hear from students (and not to mention I have experienced myself) is a desire for real community and deep friendships. But one thing I’ve learned over the last couple years is that, well, we all feel that way. Everyone needs community, literally everyone. No matter if we act on social media like we have it all together or merely pretend, God created us for community. Yet what I’ve noticed is we all wait around for someone else to initiate those relationships. My challenge is this: You be the one to initiate those friendships. Have the courage to ask someone out to coffee, or to lunch, or to study together, or to get a group of people together. Don’t fear what others will think or how it will turn out. Embrace the uncomfortable task of initiating friendships and taking those risks. I promise that it’s worth it, and others will be thankful to you for it.
Not only is it uncomfortable to initiate new relationships but it’s also uncomfortable to have hard conversations with people. I say this specifically to my generation: Because we all grew up with the default of communicating our emotions through text message, we actually often times don’t know how to have a real conversation with people anymore. We don’t know how to have the hard and uncomfortable conversations. We are a generation of people pleasers and we avoid conflict like it’s the worst possible thing that could ever happen. I am here to challenge you that hard conversations are worth it.
John 15:12-14 says “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
Jesus says to love one another, and might I add, that love isn’t just being nice. Love is having the uncomfortable conversations.
I would not be who I am today if it wasn’t for people in my life sitting me down to have hard conversations with me and call me out on areas of my life that I was not living authentically. And since then, I have learned the skill of confronting others and when done out of love and with genuine care, it is always worth it. I promise, it’s not that hard. Yes it’s uncomfortable, but it’s ok to embrace the uncomfortable.
James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Embracing the uncomfortable situations will allow God to grow and mature us and develop our character. Consider it an opportunity to be mature and complete. I promise it’s worth it.
After I graduated college I had to make this awful decision about if I was going to continue to play professional softball for a second season in the NPF. Legitimately, this felt like a life-and-death decision, like my whole future was resting on this one decision. I had a dear friend and mentor of mine say to me with a laugh, “Life is full of making big decisions. Whether it’s changing jobs, moving cities, where to have your kids go to school, buying a house… having to make big decisions is an ongoing part of life. This is just one of many big decisions you will make in your lifetime.” It was her nice way of saying, life will move on after this decision.
I hate change. I don’t do so well with transition. But I have learned over the last couple years how to be OK with change and how to know that God brings about change in our lives for our good.
In times of stress and anxiety when change happens or big decisions come, we simply need to zoom out and see all of life and all of eternity with our God of the universe. He knows the decisions we are going to make before we make them, and He knows the change that is going to happen before it happens. Our sovereign God is in control.
Romans 12:1-2 says “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
As one who is daily tempted to conform to the patterns of the world, I love this verse.
The Bible says do not be conformed but be transformed by the renewal of your mind… God wants us to be renewing our mind in Christ. He wants to change our thoughts which will change our actions.
So let’s think of some examples where you might need to embrace change:
Sometimes, you need to break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
Sometimes, you need a new group of friends.
Sometimes, you need to change your career path or your major.
Sometimes, you need to change your lifestyle.
Sometimes, you need to start being more vulnerable and transparent with people.
Sometimes, you need to start going to church or read your Bible more regularly.
Sometimes, you need to ask for help.
If there is a change that you need to make in your life that you know will draw you closer to God, then I encourage you to embrace that change. I promise it will be worth it.
Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
In a life that is ever changing and tainted with awful news and unfair circumstances, we can take comfort in this truth: No matter what happens, Jesus Christ is the same. He still died for our sins and rose from the dead so that we could have true life with Him. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8). Our God of the universe is unchanging. He is the one thing that remains.