I'm afraid to turn twenty-six.

This isn't new, but it's been freshly rolling around inside, deflating other hopes and hollowing me.


Perched on the edge of the black and white bohemian stool rested against the half-wall separating the kitchen from our tiny home's living space, I two-finger scrolled past post after post. This week had been full: working on the marketing plans of two major studies while starting a new seminary class after a meeting with my high school students and too-long-neglected-friends, and I was brain-edge-close to checking out.

It wasn't necessarily what I saw in my scroll which deep-bothered me. It was the hollow I felt inside.

Twenty-six isn't intrinsically bad, but I know what I wanted by twenty-six: be in a city I chose, in a job I love, at least engaged to a man where our ministry is strengthened, at a church where I'm fulfilled in serving.

And it wasn't a hollow of having to change those expectations anymore. 

It was the hollow of having surrendered my expectations again and again and again and still facing a deep, resounding empty inside.

I'd surrendered my desires for what I thought I want by twenty-six. If that's not what God has, great. But then, shouldn't I feel something from this surrender? I'm moved from wanting Him to give me what I want to just want Him to give me peace. A deep rest from my restlessness.

It seems that my surrender didn't work. Even my surrender of my ability to surrender (and just asking Him to help me do so) didn't seem to work either. And that's a hopelessness deeper than just not having the desires of my heart. For, I didn't even seem to have Him.

What do we do when we've surrendered our desires, but we still are devoid of the peace He promises?

What do we do when we counted the cost and choose Jesus, but it seems that life became less freedom-filled?

For a season, I became too bone-tired to pray. I'd poured and poured out my heart to the Lord, but nothing inside me (let alone what I was praying for around me) seemed to change. Prayer felt a painful, exhausting wrestling that left me more angry and bitter.

Sometimes, "doing the right thing" doesn't seem to work. And deeper, knowing that we can never do it fully right but need Jesus and trying to live from that, doesn't seem to work either.

Brown, leather-back work-given journal in hand, I tried this form of prayer. Already condemning myself for my frustration at my own "failed Christianity" (and fighting that frustration because I know there's grace), I was hit.

Is my following Jesus dependent on what I feel like while I'm following Jesus (aside from the gifts He does or doesn't give me)?

If I am only content in my faith when I feel peace and joy, my faith is about me and not my Savior. If I decrease my prayers because I don't get the burden-lifting feelings I'm asking for, my prayers are a self-centered bartering.

White-knuckling the idea that my internal peace and freedom is 1) either lacking and my fault because I'm doing something wrong or 2) my right because I'm doing something correctly, is just missing it.


What really is mine? Do I have a right to feel the blessing (just inside) of following Jesus? Is it mine to demand that I feel fulfilled in following Jesus, peacefully self-reassured that I'm hitting the mark? Is it mine to insist the Lord surround me with a certain feeling of His presence?


The truest reality of what is mine, is simply that He is mine. And that is only unlocked because I am His.

How much more fragrant does worship become when it's centered only on the reality of Who He is, regardless of how worship makes us feel? How much more beautiful does meditation become when it's not about how much peace we get from reflecting on truth? How much deeper do our prayers grow when we cry out for freedom which the Father promises and then lay down even that wish to simply call to mind Who the Father is?

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28-30).

He says we come, and He gives rest. He doesn't say when the rest will come, but He doesn't say that His rest is any less true.

"And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).

He tells us who He is: a Counselor, a Father, a peaceful Prince. And that will not change whether we feel counseled, Fatherly loved, or under the rule of peace.

Oh Lord, give us the faith and courage to keep coming to You simply for who You are -- and not for how You make us feel or even the peace You can give. Strip us, even as it means pain; reveal in us, even as it is tainted-ugly, the ways we want to good things in addition to the good Giver. Increase our capacity to be overwhelmed by You alone. Grant us courage to for worship, prayer, and meditation--regardless. Move our eyes beyond our finiteness to a trust in your infiniteness, alone.

For, You are mine; He is yours, too. And if that's all, that is all. More than enough.


I definitely don't want this to be a monologue. What are your thoughts? Questions? Ideas?