Boundless Joy.

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“A reckless love too wild to understand
Breathing the world to life in Your romance
So here I am
Your love has got me up in arms again
And this hope won’t let me go
My joy is boundless
My soul knows its worth

In arms stretching wider
Than my heart could ever fall
You own the skies and still You want my heart
Casting Your throne aside to lift me up
So here I am
Your love has got me up in arms again
And this hope won’t let me go”

-Hillsong United

Last week, I had an incredibly difficult day. It was one of those days that left me feeling exhausted and defeated. The details of my struggles are irrelevant at this point, because the details of the joy found in that day are far more powerful.

This particularly difficult, beautiful day made me think about what Paul was saying about joy in all circumstances. He wasn’t saying that the situation or season of life would always be easy or fun. But there is always beauty to behold.

“I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”
-Philippians 4:12

Though this day, for me, held many tears, frustrations, and disappointments, God’s glory shined brightly in so many ways…

A dear friend who made me lunch, complete with teatime and homemade cookies…
Watching two little girls interpretive dance while worshiping God…
My friend’s sweet daughters who gave me cheek kisses and hand-drawn pictures…
Phone calls from loved ones…
Music playing…
A beautiful sunset…

There is always light in the darkness. There is joy everywhere…in the smiles exchanged, laughs shared, cheek kisses, and sunsets. Through it all, God is present, and for that reason, my joy is boundless.

Not Another Instigatory Blog Post.

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“Why your way is the wrong way”…

The title above is just one of many blog article titles I’ve seen recently in this new trend of posting eye-catching, controversial posts, written for the sole purpose of gaining popularity and quick attention. Now, don’t get me wrong. We all want our words to be read, we want our voices to be heard. But who are we willing to hurt along the way to get views and clicks? What truth will we ignore for those extra likes and shares?

Through my personal blog that you’re currently reading, and the online magazine I run (Identity Girls), I have become quite immersed in “blogger world.” It’s a temptation to seek popularity and lose sight of why I began blogging in the first place, 6 years ago when no one was reading it.

I started my blog because I wanted to have a positive impact on our world…to cultivate beauty…to inspire and encourage…to exude joy…and to share God’s truth in love. It’s easy to hide behind our computers in our safe little bubbles where we can’t see the people we are impacting, or potentially hurting. To all of my fellow bloggers: God has entrusted us with an incredible responsibility…our words can reach and touch the lives of many. But how are you using that influence today?

When did we decide that our opinions were more valuable than the word of God?

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”
-Romans 12:18

Too much of what I see Christians posting on social media is about stirring up problems, fighting, hating, judging, condemning, and spewing unbiblical, harsh opinions…all for the recognition of the online world.

“A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.”
-Proverbs 16:28

Our motive for posting anything can’t be fame, popularity, clicks, likes, and shares. That isn’t what Jesus was about. Jesus was a diplomat. Posting blog articles with offensive and eye-catching titles, the content filled with harsh words and judgmental tones…who is that helping? Who’s kingdom is that building?

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
-Matthew 5:9

Even if you’re not a blogger, this applies to you. It applies to each of us. In our generation of social media, we post our every thought on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I advise you to think before you post. Would you say these words to someone’s face? Are they coming from a place of love? Use your words and social media platforms to breath life rather than to break it down. Use the opportunities and spaces you’ve been given to make a positive, loving impact.

Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. Speak out of kindness, because no matter how “right” and justified we may feel, our God calls us to be kind…to be peacemakers…to love…to nurture. What will you post today?

“I therefore urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
-Ephesians 4:1

ONE.

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Back in 2009 (my first year in Los Angeles), I was a teacher at Gymboree and would ride the metro orange line from my place in NoHo all the way on the straight shot to Woodland Hills where I worked. With tired eyes and a thermos full of coffee, this introverted girl would hop on at 5 AM, headphones in, ready for some alone time before a day full of noisy children.

On one particular morning, a girl entered and sat alone on the bus a couple rows ahead of me. Honestly, I don’t know what it was, but I immediately felt that I should go sit next to her and say hello.

Crazy, right?!

I can assure you, it was truly the last thing I wanted to do. I tried to drown this silly idea out with the sound of my classic 80s rock playlist, but Bon Jovi was no match for what was on my heart that morning.

“Good morning. I love your scarf–such a beautiful color on you.” I said to the stranger.

Much to my surprise, her eyes filled with tears, and she slowly began to mutter a small… “Thank you.”, along with a somewhat forced grin.

I didn’t want to press on, but my heart was growing with concern for this girl I didn’t know at all. “How is your week going so far?”

She didn’t make eye contact with me, but with her glance straight ahead and a few tears falling, she said, “Not great. My boyfriend of two years just broke up with me last night. I’m heading to work and was so upset I didn’t even bring everything I need for my day.”

My heart broke for her. Not because breakups are uncommon, but because she was in front of me. She was important. She was on my heart. We become so desensitized to the pain of others, and sometimes even invalidate or compare it. But in that moment, all I wanted to do was help in whatever small way I could.

She went on to explain that she was also a bit lost, so I I gave her some directions, along with one of my protein bars and enough change to catch her bus coming home. She hugged me and went on with her day, and I with mine. I ended up being late to work that day, but it made me think of the verse below.

Matthew 18:12-14 is a beautiful picture in my mind of the importance of the one person who we may be able to impact during our daily routines…

“If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.”

Every day, we are encountering people all around us who are lost physically, spiritually, or emotionally. The idealistic hero heart in me wants to do something big…to save everyone…to make a grand gesture that makes a huge impact on our world. The truth is, I can’t save the world.

Often times, my efforts feel insignificant, futile. But I can make an impact on one person each day…I can pay attention to the one in front of me who has a need that perhaps I can meet.

Jesus didn’t generalize. He cared about the one. The strangers that cross our paths aren’t robots…they are unique humans, individuals, sons, daughters, mothers, friends, dreamers, and people who may be experiencing deep heartbreak. The one matters incredibly. Who is in your path? Who is the one you can love today? Our efforts for the one matter…


Saving the one lost sheep…
Smiling at one stranger…
Asking someONE how their day is going…
Sponsoring one child…
Giving water to the one
Bus fare for one….
A blanket for one
A goodie bag for one
Food for one

If we are doing our part, our individual best, and are all looking after the one lost sheep in our path, we are closer to community, unity, and wholeness. Do for one what you wish you could do for many.

Where Dreams are Cultivated

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A couple years ago, with numb fingers, stiff crossed legs, and my largest ugly sweater to keep me warm, I sat on the damp grass of an Encino soccer field and blogged while the 5 year old boy I used to nanny was running around at soccer practice. In my idealistic, introverted world, I prefer to have complete silence, peace, and solitude while working and writing. However, throughout the different seasons of life, reality sometimes gets in the way of our preferences.

It wasn’t easy writing and blogging on the cold, dewy sidelines accompanied by the banter of 30 little boys. But I knew that to be faithful to the dreams God had entrusted me to, and to ever fulfill my purpose, I needed to take advantage of the tiny moments where I was able to do what I was made to do. I have learned over the years that no one else will make my dreams come true…the people around me will not always bend to make it easier for me to flourish. I am responsible for how much, or how little, I thrive.

I used to make a lot of excuses for why I wasn’t really stepping out in faith, working hard, and chasing my dreams. I felt that my dreams and passions just weren’t conducive to my lifestyle. It is still an ongoing challenge for me to find the self-discipline to be motivated and push forward, as my current situation is far from perfect, and definitely still has it’s share of distractions.

Books are created in tiny studio apartments…
Screenplays are written on un-air conditioned living room floors…
Song lyrics are scribbled into journals while working a side job…

Your dreams don’t require a perfected atmosphere to come to fruition. They simply require your willingness. Start with a blank page, a really strong cup of coffee, and a whole lot of gumption.

Are We Out of the Woods?

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“Are we out of the woods yet?
Are we in the clear yet?
Good.”

-T. Swift

Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

This one simple word made me a target in the woods and wilderness of my life. Why? How? When fear is planted in our hearts and takes root, it grows and flourishes, and what started out as a fear in one area of your life rapidly spreads like wildfire into every other fragment.

While I’ve never lived in the woods, I have lived in my own concrete jungle. There was a season of my life here in Los Angeles where I felt trapped…stuck in the woods…caught in unfamiliar territory that left me feeling painfully vulnerable. While I attempted to protect myself according to the world’s standards, no boyfriend, apartment, acting job, or amount of money could save me.

In one particularly desolate season “in the woods”, I found true hopelessness because I realized what had left me stranded in the first place:

I did not believe I was loved.
I did not feel worthy of love.
I did not know if I would ever truly be loved.

I had been pushing God away for a very long time…because if I wasn’t worthy of love from those around me, I certainly wasn’t going to be loved by the creator of the universe. But like I said, I was desperate. At this point “in the woods”, I was at the end of my rope. I decided to heat up some mac and cheese for one, sit alone in my studio apartment, and crack open my dusty bible.

“The perfect love casts out all fear.” -1 John 4:18

While I now found these words comforting, at the time, I remember thinking that God must really have a sense of humor. I decided to combat his humor by humoring Him. Blame it on my stubbornness, but that night, I decided to google and research everything I could find about God’s love.

My hardened heart was quickly softened as I realized that it wasn’t God’s fault that I didn’t feel loved…it was my fault for pushing it away…rejecting it…not accepting a gift that was readily available to me. I was so ready to get out of the woods…to get out of my isolation…to get out of the dangerous, destructive, unhealthy situations I was living in. However, I didn’t have the ability to be bold and make huge life changes until I believed I was loved by Him.

“Courage comes from a heart that is convinced it is loved.” -Beth Moore

Today, I really wanted to share the inspiring message that one of my sweet friends sent me. Mariah Fields, a 17 year old gal in the group called Delight that I am a mentor for, so eloquently and honestly shared about how she felt when she was “stuck in the woods” of her life, and how she found peace:

“For many years I believed that once I got past a certain struggle or season, then I’d finally reach that point of joy I so longed for. I believed I just had to keep going and that eventually my life would be perfect (as perfect as is possible in a broken world). I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sometimes there are seasons that are dark and crippling, and sometimes there are seasons that are life-giving and rejuvenating. But there are all those in betweens time too when nothing is extreme, nothing is exciting or depressing — those seasons can cause as much emotion as the others, just subtly. I had such a hard time reconciling the fickleness of my heart AND my surroundings.

Why did Jesus give me the heartbreak and the time of mending? Why did Jesus give me quiet times and then times when I couldn’t keep up? Why all the inconsistency? I felt like a puppet that was being emotionally worn down by all the “your life is finally at peace” false-alarms. Peace never stayed. But, when I finally started listening to Jesus instead of myself I found that the consistency lay within Him. The common thread that was woven throughout each and every one of those seasons – the crippling, the joy-filled, and the boring – was love. Agape love. The love that breaths life no MATTER the situational components. Whether it was the depression I went through or my best friend coming into my life, each moment he was forming me and rebuilding my heart. So, does the inconstancy end? No, I don’t believe it does. But, my soul no longer feels played with, my heart is not being raw and vulnerable in an unhealthy way. Instead, I have truly found peace in the truth of Jesus’ faithfulness. I know that the dark, the beautiful, and the uneventful all have a place. They’re Jesus’ way of bringing your heart closer to His. They’re grace, and inexplicably perfect love.”

Whether you are in the woods and in the dark spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally, there is hope because there is love. This love does not make everything easier, take away all of our pain, or promise us perfection. Instead, our humbleness acknowledging our great need for this love as survival is what brings beauty, hope, and light to our wilderness.

Love fought my fear. Love’s flames were stronger than the flames of fear. Love was louder than fear. Love brought me out of the woods.

What’s Your Cave?

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Our culture tends to center around how we can get what we want and become “happy.” What they don’t prepare you for, though, is what to do when you get everything you thought you wanted, yet still feel completely empty. Almost six years ago, I had just moved out to Los Angeles to “live the dream”, and to be honest with you, I really was. I was getting auditions…booking acting jobs…liked my apartment…was making money…went to parties…found myself intertwined with the “in crowd” (whatever that even means).

Any possible way the world told me I could find value in myself, I pursued. Not only pursued, but I succeeded. But the strangest thing happened…I still didn’t feel valued even when I lived my life in exact accordance with what others promised would fulfill me. My life still seemed meaningless.

I believe that in life, everyone will experience their cave…their darkest place…most isolated moments. While the atmosphere of our caves will be unique, the heart of the cave is the same. The time frame in which we reside in our caves will differ as well…some for a few days, some for a few years. I lived in my cave for about three years until fully leaving it behind. My cave was…

A tiny studio apartment complete with…
Isolation…
Unhealthy relationships…
Heartbreak…
Daddy issues…
Negative thoughts…
More mistakes and failures than I could count…
(and oh so much more)

There was one night in my cave that I remember truly feeling particularly hopeless. Also, the entire time I had been in my cave, I was attempting to push God as far away as possible. I knew He existed…I believed in Him…I just didn’t want Him anywhere near me or my life. However, on this one particularly hopeless night at 1:30 AM, I tried calling a few different friends, but no one was answering. It took me hitting rock bottom in my isolation to finally cry out to God…to pray…to ask Him to enter into my suffering with me. Not really knowing how exactly to begin this dialogue, I recall just saying something along the lines of…

“You know how deeply I am hurting. I don’t even see an end in sight. I can’t do this alone anymore. Please. Help. Please…”

Through reading Psalm 142, David’s prayer in his cave was pretty similar to mine…

“I cry out loudly to God,
 loudly I plead with God for mercy.
I spill out all my complaints before him,

and spell out my troubles in detail:
“As I sink in despair, my spirit ebbing away,
you know how I’m feeling,
Know the danger I’m in,
the traps hidden in my path.
Look right, look left—
there’s not a soul who cares what happens,
I’m up against it, with no exit—
 bereft, left alone.
I cry out, God, call out:

‘You’re my last chance, my only hope for life!’
Oh listen, please listen;
 I’ve never been this low.”

I must clarify…life with God is not easier. It hasn’t solved all of my problems. It isn’t always warm and fuzzy. I was having a conversation the other night with a good friend of mine, Jessika Fuhrmaneck, who has been on an 8-year journey of restoration from the adult entertainment industry. She was talking to me about the amount of money she was making when she used to dance in the clubs…and how before she laid down her life and began walking with God, she had a nicer car, a nicer home, more money, and ultimately more “value” according to the world’s standards. I shared with Jessika what I shared with you at the beginning of this article…that while I was deeply entrenched in my cave, I had “everything I wanted”…I was living “the dream.” So what was missing? Beauty. Weight. Truth. Hope. Transcendence.

My husband wrote an article today, and this quote really resonated with me…

“Jesus, didn’t come and live a comfortable life, pain, discomfort, and worry free. He lived a life of hurt, and pain, struggle and ultimately sacrifice. Jesus didn’t model for us an easy life, but a beautiful one.”

Life with God didn’t take away my suffering…but just as I mentioned before, God met me in my suffering. In Hebrew, the word glory is referring to heaviness. Glory is a beauty that has weight…and God’s glory is just that. He brings hope…but not just superficial, temporary hope. It is the heavy beauty that makes hope real.

In Psalm 63, David is in the desert, feeling an acute thirst, physically. But he finds that the spiritual thirst is the deep desire that truly needs to be met. David looks back on the moments where he had it all, as I mentioned in my own life. He reigned as king…had great success…yet his soul longed for something more, a purpose that only the glory of God could provide.

What comforted David most deeply wasn’t a god who took away all of his suffering. It was that the God he met in that cave was a god of glory and holiness. I had to learn that prayer wasn’t a transaction, but a relationship. That in prayer, we need to see a God of absolute glory (which brings heavy, deep beauty), because that is what outweighs our problems. His absolute beauty diminishes all others. Absolute love conquers all. 

God met David in a cave. He met me in mine. He can meet you in the depths of your soul, no matter how dark. Wherever your cave may be, God not only sees you, but is willing and ready to join you right there, exactly where you are. What’s your cave?

 

Do More Than Your Day Job.

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“You can’t do a good job if your job is all you do.”

-Katie Thurmes, co-founder of Artifact Uprising

A couple weeks ago, my husband was out of town, my work for the day was complete, I was sitting in my throne (AKA my favorite, comfy, big blue chair)…and I found myself feeling guilty for wanting to relax. Just as this strange feeling of “necessary” restlessness came over me, I read the following verse:

“So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people to do in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them.”
-Ecclesiastes 8:15

Especially being an introvert, I have found that I am far more valuable to those around me when I have had quiet time to myself and invest in my own personal joy. I used to find myself filling every minute of the day with good, productive things, but not restful, soul-filling moments. I would be working, blogging, mentoring, studying…which are all great, but I would become overwhelmed due to the lack of pure bliss…unadulterated, agenda-free bliss.

It’s okay to wake up and have coffee in bed…
Let yourself daydream…
Do something you used to love as a child…
It is valuable to hear Pandora playing the beautiful tunes of my solo piano station…
There is joy found in hobbies, just for fun…
Give yourself permission to rest.

Today, remember that:
-It is biblical to enjoy life and have fun.
-Having fun and making time for YOU is crucial to having a healthy, balanced life.
-It is not selfish to do things that make you happy, when combined with serving and loving those around you.
-Investing in your own personal happiness will enable you to love others better.

Dream.
Ponder.
Think.
Read.
Eat.
Ride a bike.
Find meaning.
Transcend.
Live.
Do more than your day job.

The Secrets Music Tells

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“Music expresses that which cannot be said, on which it is impossible to be silent.”

-Victor Hugo

The rich and robust sound made when the bow first touched the strings of the cello this morning filled Redeemer church. Interesting, how a sound coming from one single person, one single instrument, actually silenced the pews filled with many busy, chatty people from the city. This music brought immense warmth to my soul, so much so that I almost felt my numbed New York City finger tips come back to life in the presence of it’s fire.

Growing up, my dad owned his own piano store, so I was raised with a great appreciation for instrumental music. The beauty is that it ignites the imagination. Hearing someone play cello, piano, or even Spanish guitar leads me to believe they are sharing a tiny part of a secret with me. My imagination begins to unravel their story with each lingering note.

I love beautiful art that doesn’t exploit and give it all away…the kind of art that leaves it up to us to come to a conclusion…leaves us pondering, dreaming, thinking, and desiring. The wonder found in instrumental music is that we are able to get creative…imagine…close our eyes…evoke our own emotion…feel deeply…daydream. The notes of the instruments are pieces of the puzzle, little secrets, and the lack of lyrics leave us to finish the puzzle in our minds.

Music is personal and universal. A language we all speak, yet touches us so individually. In our fast paced, instant gratification, technology-filled culture, I believe that we have lost the art of enjoying music. Have we forgotten what it feels like to be in awe of the sound? To allow a cellist to sweep us off our feet or a pianist to paint a picture.

Below is a beautiful piece that I love dearly. Give it a listen sometime today. Close your eyes. Allow your mind to daydream, wonder, and become awestruck. Afterward, consider journaling your thoughts, visions, and what came to your mind or heart upon listening. Enjoy the secrets music tells.

The Halloween Card

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{The photo above is from Halloween when I was 4 or 5 years old. I was Pocahontas, my brother was Rocky (which explains the amazing black eye). I tried to copy him and do a peace sign, but I guess I only managed to get one finger up.}

It’s interesting how the smallest moments can have such an incredible impact on our lives. If you know me, you know I love holidays, love traditions, and love making memories with the people I hold dear. I talk a lot about the importance of tradition in my life…but there are so many people and events who have made my traditions what they are. I am also a bit of a hoarder when it comes to cards (I have kept every card a family member has ever given me). Since one of my main love languages is words of affirmation, there is something deeply valuable to me about handwritten words from someone who loves me.

I have MANY Halloween memories. Trick or treating, feeling so cool wandering around with my big brother, my mom making me amazing home made costumes, and eating so much chocolate that I would go into sugar shock. But one thing that not many people know is that Halloween always makes me think of my biological father.

It’s a bit strange, because I don’t really have memories of spending or celebrating any Halloweens with him. The reason this holiday makes me think of him is because of a Halloween card he gave me when I was in elementary school. I was a little girl, and was easily amused (who am I kidding-not much has changed). I thought the slightest technology was AMAZING. This was back before greeting cards were really hi-tech. He sent me a Halloween card, and when I opened it, it played a spooky song. This ridiculous song brought me so much joy. I remember opening and shutting it over and over again. Sometimes I would even keep it next to my bed and listen to the song, because that was the closest thing I had to him. The awesome, scary ghost song wasn’t the best part of that card, though. It’s what was written inside…

“Happy Halloween, Rachael! Daddy loves you SO much.”

To this day, I still have that card. I finally wore out the music, after playing it for years and years, thinking of him each and every time. Little things like songs and cards have always been important to me. I often wonder if he knows that. If he knows that the role he played in my life, no matter how small, had a life-altering, deepening, meaningful impact on my heart. 

Years of my life were spent in confusion, frustration, anger, and hurt…wondering if I wasn’t enough, if he really loved me, why he wasn’t able to be present. But I find peace and sincere gratitude for things like that Halloween card. That card was a symbol of his love for me…it was a gesture…it was his effort…and I deeply appreciate it.

Radical//Reckless//Rugged//Relentless Love.

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“I realized we had created a Jesus who’s safe for the whole family. But if we were honest, we’d ask, how is a homeless dude who was murdered on a cross for saying he was God safe for the whole family? Not to mention that Paul told us if we choose to follow his example as a follower of Jesus, we will be treated the way that he was. We’ve lost the real Jesus—or at least exchanged him for a newer, safer, sanitized, ineffectual one. We’ve created a Christian subculture that comes with its own set of customs, rules, rituals, paradigms, and products that are nowhere near the rugged, revolutionary faith of biblical Christianity. In our subculture Jesus would have never been crucified—he’s too nice. When I was trying to earn Jesus by being good, I missed the real Jesus who wants us to love him and serve him not for what he gives, but for who he is-dangerous, unpredictable, radical, and amazing.”
-Jefferson Bethke, Jesus>Religion

When I first began my journey of seeking and trying to have a relationship with Jesus, I always hit the same roadblock: I’m not good enough. Attempting to wrap my mind around how someone as broken as me could be close to the son of God? No…that just didn’t add up for me. As funny as it sounds, I felt like if Jesus got to know me, he would be horrified. So, I did what many people do. I avoided the word Jesus all together.

Later on, I jumped onto the cultural Christian train at whatever church I would find myself attending, and I would grasp onto the idea of “safe Jesus.” There are many songs out now that make Jesus sound warm and fuzzy, like the best boyfriend ever. Sure, this was a lot more comforting than my idea of angry, scary, horrified Jesus. But while the idea of a safe and predictable Jesus may bring peace to some people, it actually started to really bother me after a while. It wasn’t authentic…it didn’t make sense. The more I studied scripture and strove to know the true character of who Jesus really was, the more I learned that this while this guy was loving, he was not the sheltered, quiet, teddy bear type.

You know that level of friendship where you know someone still isn’t really going to be honest, open, or tell you how it really is? Well, that is not how Jesus operates. Jesus wasn’t afraid to say some insanely radical things, like:

Deny yourself and follow me… (Luke 9:23)
Serve others above yourself… (Matthew 20:26-28)
If you gain the world, you forfeit life… (Mark 8:34-38)
Sell what you own, give to those in need… (Mark 10:21)
Blessed are the persecuted… (Luke 6:22)
Be anxious for nothing… (Matthew 6:25)
Fear God… (Matthew 10:28)
The exalted will be humbled… (Matthew 23:12)

His grace and love is crazy…irrational…beyond our understanding. It is radical. He wasn’t out to make the safe choices. My true relationship with Jesus was shaped and formed through my realization that nothing I could say or do would scare him off. I’m recklessly human sometimes, and “safe Jesus” wouldn’t know how to handle that. The good news is that the real Jesus can. The real Jesus isn’t afraid to hurt my feelings or challenge me, which is crucial of any authentic, long-term relationship.

I love the real Jesus, because I don’t think he could love me any other way. I am able to accept his love and grace because I understand how truly radical it is. Best of all, the real Jesus is adventurous…and stepping into relationship with him meant stepping into the greatest adventure I could embark on…letting go of fear and gaining a faith that transformed my life radically. True love and friendship challenges, stretches, and brings us into our greater selves. The relentless love of Jesus is just that, and I am extremely grateful for who he really is.