Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Looking Back...and Feeling in Awe Once Again


I'm one of those people who has tons of journals, many of them partly used. I love having them around for writing down ideas, feelings, plans, lists. :)

While cleaning house and putting away Christmas decorations this past weekend, I delved into a box with several journals and other memorabilia. And, of course, I got sucked into a period of reminiscing.

I think we need those moments of looking back.

"Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders and the judgments of his mouth." - Psalm 105:5 (emphasis added)

I was deeply touched to come across an entry from a time when I was feeling really uncertain and worried about my future. I'll leave out a bit with some more personal details, but I wanted to share most of it with you...

* * *

January 15, 2013

Tonight is one of those nights... I'm feeling so uncertain about my future, and so afraid of my own fears and of never moving forward in love and life.

[...]

I don't know what's wrong with me. I think perhaps I'm being too prideful - I want to have a legacy, to see and know that what I'm dong has an impact on others, is meaningful, successful. I suppose that I want to be successful... And yet I'm lazy, and I'm scared of change. 

Do I really think God's hand is not strong enough or long enough to guide me, to help me? Heaven help me if I do. I know He can work His will for my life no matter where I live. I know He can give me the strength to take the steps I need to take. I just wish I knew what those steps were!

Am I like that second girl on Joe vs. the Volcano? She was afraid of declining her father's money and leaving to go live on her own. Joe told her, "See! You know what you're scared of doing. If you have a choice between ending your life and doing the thing you're scared of doing, why not take the leap and do the thing you're scared of doing?"

What am I scared of doing? I'm scared of applying for jobs. I'm scared of getting a job and having to work and maybe hating it. I'm scared of getting my license. What if I can't pass the test? I'm scared of the freedom - and the added responsibilities. I'm scared of taking the step between the sheltered life I have here at home and the life I can have out there. What if I'm rejected? What if I have to work in a negative atmosphere? What if I fail? What if I hate my job? I'm scared of having to make choices. I'm so impulsive, and my choices haven't always been the wisest. What if I make horrible choices?

What if I've been making excuses? What if I'm hiding from life? God help me, please, because I just don't know how to take another step. I don't know if I can make the right choices, and I'm scared of having to live with the consequences of wrong choices. Please, God, please guide me. My heart is quaking within me. 

"We'll jump, and we'll see." Make my crooked paths straight, please, God. Don't let me live in fear of the life you have given me.

"Thank you for my life. I forgot...how big... Thank you."*

* * *

I looked back at that time, almost exactly three years ago, and was moved by how God has worked in my life since then.

It would still be another year and a half after I wrote this journal entry before I'd be offered my current job.

A year and a half in which my editing business finally found traction and brought in some amazing clients who gave me wonderful work experience.

A year and a half in which I became an indie author.

A year and a half in which I got the driver's license that so terrified me.

And now, three years later, I'm living away from home. In my own little apartment, having survived job applications and moving and acclimating to a new job and life in a new town. While there have certainly been some rough patches and many, many learning experiences, God has brought me to a wonderful place.

Amazingly enough, I've even come to enjoy driving. My parking skills have greatly improved. :)

It's easy for me to caught up in the new journal entries. The ones where I stress about work and what I feel I'm lacking and the next step. Always the next step...

But the God who brought me this far, who faithfully helped me take those scary steps in His time, hasn't changed.

How could I doubt that He's just as much at work in this season as He was in the past?

Wherever you are in your own journey, I hope that you'll be able to look back at those previous journal/life entries soon and remember God walking beside you. You've come a long way, dear friend.

*These quotes are from the movie Joe Versus the Volcano with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan (although likely not word for word). Yes, I do love to quote movies!

17 comments:

Miranda Atchley said...

This was a really great post. I like to look back on my journals, too. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes not so good. Ha! I'm sure you know how that goes. It's so easy to get scared and worry about the future because who knows what lies ahead? But God is always there and we can always count on that. Proud of you, Amber, for following your path making your dreams come true.

Meghan Gorecki said...

This post SO encouraged me, my friend who I am woefully late in owing an email to. ;) Perspective is so important, and so great to see how far God's brought us...and it gives us hope for the future even when it seems increasingly daunting. <3 I've never kept journals, but I read a post from January 2013 on my blog, about singleness and I just laughed and shook my head, ruefully...it was a good post, but everything that's happened and where I'm at now is just eclipses those little messes of 3 yrs younger Meghan, y'know? ;)

Jamie Lapeyrolerie said...

What an encouraging post! Thank you so much for sharing...I needed these reminders!

Amber Stokes said...

Miranda,

Thank you so much!

And I think I know what you mean - it's easy to stir up old feelings or worries when you dwell on those journal entries, right? But I love when you can look back and see how God took care of you and extinguished your fears. :)

It's very true, though, that the future is still such a big unknown...but even truer that God is with us still. Thank you for your sweet words and friendship! Appreciate your comment. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Meghan,

Aww, I'm so glad! Thank you for reading. :) And no worries at all - goodness, I've been rather terrible about keeping up with emails and such, myself! But I look forward to hearing from you and catching up again when you have the time. :)

I love what you said about needing perspective (SO true, especially when you're caught up in an endless cycle of daily temptation, worries, etc.) and about finding hope in looking back at all God has done in your life. And yep, three-years-younger-we had no idea, did they? ;) Every season we grow a little more - and encounter new challenges we'd never expected!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Jamie,

I'm thrilled you were encouraged by the post! It seemed like something good to share. :) Thanks so much for stopping by!

~Amber

Stefanie MacWilliams said...

What a beautiful, heartwarming post :) So amazing what God does in such short times. I have really gotten into journalling for the past year and a half. And it's so amazing to look back and see how different things were!

Amber Stokes said...

Stefanie,

Aw, thank you! ♥ It truly is amazing what God can and does do in our lives.

I'm not necessarily a consistent journal-er (although I'd like to be more of one this year), but I do find it helpful/comforting to write things out. And it's definitely neat when you look back and see how things have changed. :) Happy to hear you've enjoyed journaling, too!

Hope you and yours are doing well!

~Amber

Kara said...

Oh, dear friend, do I ever understand where you're coming from! God's ways are so mysterious, aren't they? Yet always, always, always He has good for us! It's just entirely too easy to get bogged down with life and forget that He's is ALWAYS working. If only we had a bit more patience, eh? :)

For my own story, just a mere seven months ago I was struggling with the reality of how my then-job was making me miserable, I'd had people tell me that they truly believed God had something amazing in store for me in the very near future but I was struggling to believe them, and then....AND THEN! A new job literally fell right in my lap and it was the easiest thing ever. Even six months later all I can do when I think about going to work is praising Him for His wonderful blessing because this new job is amazing. :) Life is always going to have bits and times where it's not fun, but if we only remember to trust Him because He's already got it all figured out! And it'll always be amazing when His hand is in it.

Blessings to you, my friend! Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your heart with us. :)

Cindy V said...

Absolutely lovely post, Amber! So heartfelt and well-written. And you know what? Your experiences can hit home with people of any age, because all throughout life we can pause at that fork in the road where we can choose what is comfortable or we can choose something that might make us better people and help us to grow, even though it can be uncomfortable at first. But unless we take that more challenging path sometimes, we'll stagnate and won't become all that God has intended us to be.

As one who has watched your journey, I have to say, I am soooo proud of you for taking such risks and facing your fears. You have come so far, and you never would have done that if you hadn't stepped outside your comfort zone.

Wonderful post!! Good job!!

Courtney Clark said...

<3 I'm so glad you shared this, Amber!

Miranda A. Uyeh said...

Amber, I'm totally in awe of this post! I've felt this way about so many issues in my life, but, yes, I see God by my side. I won't get into the specifics, but I completely understand where you're coming from.

Also, this post doesn't surprise me. I've come to discover we have quite a lot in common. It's always amazing how God provides a person with similar experiences so that we are encouraged and comforted. Thank you for this lovely post, Amber! God bless you! :)

xo

Miranda A. Uyeh said...

Thank you, Kara, for sharing these lovely words! You have no idea how encouraging they are! I couldn't help but reply your comment. :)

Amber Stokes said...

Kara,

I have to agree with Miranda - your story is so encouraging and lovely!! Thank YOU so much for sharing your heart. That's wonderful how God has been at work in your life. :D

And I need those great reminders that God is always working and always has our ultimate good in mind. Thank you for being such a dear friend!

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Cindy,

Thank you so much for your kind comment, and for the many ways you've encouraged me over this past year and a half. You've been such a blessing in my life! ♥

It's so true that there are numerous forks in the road of life - so many choices we have to make. I love what you note about pausing and choosing the path that will help us grow into the people we're meant to be. Thank you!

Hugs,
Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Courtney,

Aww, thank you! I'm glad to be part of such a caring community where we can share our hearts with one another. :)

~Amber

Amber Stokes said...

Miranda,

I'm so blessed to know this post resonated with you - and, like you noted, it's such a huge blessing to know we're not alone in our fears and struggles! Thank you for being such an encouraging influence in my life, dear friend. ♥ I pray you will continue to feel God by your side through the days to come.

God bless you, too, Miranda!

~Amber