Fishing for Acceptance

After four months of dating, we found ourselves out in his boat at his family’s camp. I began to fish for bass from the start; cast after cast I didn’t get a bite. When Brad pulled in a small fish, the desire to impress and beat him suddenly made its appearance. I saw a spot between two trees that was shaded by the bank and knew that’s where the bass had to be sitting. I cast my tequila sunrise artificial worm…only to catch a huge branch from one of the trees right in front of me. I desperately started pulling on it embarrassed at my sloppy casting skills. I wanted to live up to being the ultimate bassmaster as I claimed to Brad, but I looked like a fool. I pulled the rod back towards me and the line became tight until it finally gave way. It slung down into the boat barely missing me and Brad. We like to IMPRESS people. We like to show them that maybe we can fish better, talk more eloquently, make higher grades, look prettier than her to get the date with that guy you’ve been crushing on, or lift heavier weights to get the girl. We feel the need to impress people because we want to feel ACCEPTED by people. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel accepted, but that feeling can turn into an obsession. And when we obsess over wanting acceptance from others, we take our eyes off God and put them on ourselves. Then, we begin comparing our abilities, gifts, and talents that God has blessed us with to the guys and girls surrounding us either trying to get them jealous over what we have or what we can do or being jealous ourselves. Wanting to feel ACCEPTED can make the prideful and jealous part of us reveal itself, and usually doesn’t end up pretty. I tried hard to impress Brad to win acceptance from him and to show him that I was good at fishing (whether I am or not is a personal opinion, lol). Even though it ended with laughter, I still felt like an idiot…So the moral of the story is that there is no need for you to try to impress others to feel accepted. Pride + jealousy are both destructive. Just remember that you are accepted into God’s kingdom if you are saved, you are loved by God, and you belong here, right where you are.

The Adventure of Not Knowing

One week in advance we set up a date to a beautiful place in Mississippi. My parents had taken me there when I was little, and I was itching to go back with Brad. The view was spectacular; it was like looking at a miniature version of the Grand Canyon. We took a few pictures, but the adventure seeking spirit in me took over. Regardless of the humidity and the hot temperatures that morning, I started trekking down the ravine on tiny trails that others had walked along before me. The trails faded away, Brad was wandering somewhere else, and I ended up at the bottom of the ravine. Then, I heard water which urged me to go further past the ravine and to find the source. Lo and behold, I discovered a natural spring that turned into a creek. I called out to Brad, who followed me down to the creek when he realized my excitement. If I would have stopped when I became unsure about the path ahead of me, I would not have experienced our date to the fullest. I didn’t let the heat tempt me to turn back. I kept going even when I wasn’t quite sure where Brad was at one point. It’s crazy to me how I will do this in real life, but not my own spiritual walk sometimes as much as it hurts me to admit it. I may witness and pick up on the clues and hints that God gives me in the life adventure, but I turn away and let the struggles of what may lie ahead get to me. When I can’t see the end of the trail of my future, I don’t always press on. Y’all, it’s easy to stray from the path that God wants for you especially when it’s a path made just for you that maybe no one has traveled before. Use those God given clues to get you where you need to be. Let Him lead you on the right trail for your life. Because, let’s face it, none of us can make it without Him guiding us through this life adventure.

No Room for Excuses

God places dreams in our hearts and callings on our lives that we feel are unattainable. We make up excuses that we are not gifted or talented, too afraid, not equipped, or don’t have the time for it. We tell God to choose someone else for the job or keep questioning Him that He’s in control. Friend, you can’t run from God’s calling on your life. Four years ago, I was about to enter college when I felt burdened to try to become a State FFA Officer. I dreamed of this becoming a reality since I was a child. I went to State Conventions with my daddy, my ag teacher inspiration, saying, “I wanna be one of them one day.” Little did I know, that I would actually pursue the dream that never faded. I saw that it wasn’t just a dream but a calling on my life. I recognized that this was God’s way of using me for a purpose bigger than myself…ministry. I created 1,000 excuses: “I’m going to miss too much school, I won’t be able to get a good first year of college, stress will be an issue for me, and how am I going to be able to speak in front of people constantly?! God, how am I going to do this?” Then, I realized…I can’t do this, but You can do this through me. After that, I knew I had to just trust Him the whole way.

I prayed, cried, studied harder than ever, practiced, stayed up late, shook from nervousness in my blue corduroy jacket to the point the emblem could have fallen off, and my name was called.

Pursue God’s calling on your life and the dream He has given you, and trust Him with it. He will take you farther than you can ever imagine!

Glimpse into Our Love Story

“No, I’m sorry. I’m busy with homework right now.” He was used to this response from me, but for some reason, he kept pursuing me. After being rejected three times within a two year time span, he was almost to the point of giving up. I pushed him aside and put him in that dreaded place we all know as the “friend zone.” I entered college with a broken heart from a recent break-up and far from home. I only knew four people, and I was afraid, timid, and off-standish. He was one of the four people I knew from my little neck of the woods attending the same college as me four hours away. Brad and I met while we were both in high school through FFA (Future Farmers of America), and we competed against each other in a couple different contests. I always saw him as the person I needed to beat to get to the next level although I always thought highly of him and recognized that he was a sweet, kind person. Whenever you come from small towns, those towns talk and word spreads like wildfire. Everybody really knows everybody, what they’re doing, and where they are. Thankfully, I knew Brad was already at the same college from around the same place, and it eased my mind. My parents always told me if I got into any trouble I needed to go see Brad, and he would take care of me. So I did…but it wasn’t because I was in trouble. We would go horseback riding from time to time, he would always offer to cook for me, and we would just talk to each other for a couple hours or so. As soon as I was confronted to make a decision about going out on a date with him, I kinda freaked out and backed away. I didn’t want to lose a good friend because of dating. I finally agreed to go on a date with him close to my junior year of college. Brad never TRULY had a girlfriend or dated anyone before he started dating me. He told me that when he saw me at college for the first time, he knew he was going to marry me. He waited, waited, and waited for me to give him a “yes” for a first date. He prayed for me during this time of rejection. What endurance, patience, persistence, faith, and LOVE! Can y’all imagine the hurt and pain of rejection and just waiting around for a prayer to hopefully be answered? I CANNOT. The beautiful hidden message behind our story is that Jesus watches us pursue worldly things. He knows some of us are keeping Him only in the “friend zone” when we need to have a more intimate relationship with Him. He’s waiting for us to call on Him for His guidance. Brad most certainly called to God to help him understand if he should keep pursuing me, and for that, I am so grateful. The Lord had His hand in our relationship from the beginning, and now, we are two months from being married. Don’t keep Jesus waiting to have a more personal relationship with Him. He looks down on our sinful lifestyles but is loving and forgiving when we ask Him for those things and turn away from it. I know that my Brad isn’t Jesus, but just as Brad was faithful and patient with me yet became discouraged and disappointed in me at times, he still chose to love me and pursue me anyway. Jesus is like that with us! Get Him out of that “friend zone” to go into a deeper relationship with Him.