Abide in Me - Jeff and Alyssa

photo-29Sitting in the sunniest spot I could find in the woods, I read these two verses over and over.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” || John 15:4-5

Tears streamed down my cheeks. My hand shook as I wrote in my journal, pouring out my heart to the Lord.

Abide in Me.

I was helping lead a group of high schoolers from Maui at a camp up in the mountains of California, before we went on our week long mission trip to Los Angeles. I had just finished two weeks of having Jeff visit me in Maui. At the airport on the way to California, I realized I needed to break up with him. I really liked him. A lot. However, I just didn’t think it was the best time, and doubted if he was the right guy for me. (Obviously we all know he was the guy for me- just took awhile for me to know that!) I bawled the whole plane ride over. Like gasping-for-air, swollen eyes, stuff my head in a pillow-bawling. (Thankfully it was a red eye, so most people were sleeping or watching movies!) I hadn’t spoken to him since I had left—but I knew this was going to be the hardest surrender of my life up to this point in my life. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I should let him go, but I knew the Lord was nudging me to do so.

John 15 was the passage for camp that week. Every morning as I sat hidden in between trees, I thought on how the Lord was calling me to abide in Him.

Three years later (after breaking up, dating someone else, being broken up with, dating Jeff again, getting engaged, married; after being an intern, high school counselor, wife, blogger, dog-mommy; after moving 3 times, seeing 3 best friends get married, traveling the U.S.; after finishing 3 jobs & attending 3 churches) the Lord is still pressing that same truth onto my heart: “ABIDE IN ME DAUGHTER.”

Through all the changes, transitions, ups and downs, God has remained faithful. Not only is He the steady Rock on which I can lean on, but He’s also faithfully working in me. For these past three years, I’ve wondered how do I abide in Him? And finally, I can say I’m starting to understand what He means.

Abide involves rest. It involves dwelling, and staying. It includes being with Jesus- not so much doing. Doing flows out of being. It comes after we fully rest in Jesus- after we know who we are in Him, and who He is.

This past year the Lord has shown me how I often put my identity in what I do, instead of who He says I am. I struggle with “performance identity”. Do this, check off that, be busy, be productive, do, do do. I never fully realized it, until I quite my job last June. Quickly the Lord began to reveal how I put my identity in my job, and in ministry. A part of me began to crumble. I wasn’t working. I wasn’t earning money. I wasn’t totally plugged into a church yet to serve and disciple. Even after we were married, I still didn’t work, and thought I needed to prove myself as “the perfect house wife”. (Insert laugh here.) I burned pans, ruined meals, flooded the kitchen, bleached curtains. (Oh, I’m still doing these things!) Then we got our puppy Aslan who quickly showed me that there’s no such thing as a perfect wife, or perfect house. He was a handful, on top of chewing up all sorts of things in our house- (clear throat): he chewed a hole through our floor, our bed skirt, curtains, sealing, blankets, socks, shirts. He peed everywhere, including in the middle of our bed-as he was looking at me-and on my foot.

I’m finally understanding how striving for perfection, and finding my identity in performance, is not God’s plan or His best. This isn’t what He wants from us. Yes, he wants us to work hard. Yes, He wants us to be faithful and to serve. Yes, He wants us to use our gifts that He’s given us. However, our value and identity are not found in the things we do. Our identity is found in who Jesus says we are- and He says we are His, loved, cherished, redeemed, set apart, His inheritance, His children. You don’t work for your dad to have him love you; He simply loves you because you’re his child. And so it is with Jesus- He loves us simply because we are His, not because of what we do. God is after our heart and our relationship with Him, instead of what we do for Him. Yes, we’re to obey Him and serve, but out of a heart that already knows and rests in who we are in Him- we serve out of love, not out of fear.

I don’t have a job right now. I have the (AWESOME!) opportunity to stay home and do whatever Jeff needs help with, and what I want to do that day- whether it be some creative outlet, meeting with girls, or just hanging out. And the beauty is that I don’t have to prove myself. I don’t have to do things perfectly or freak out if I don’t get something done on my check-list. I can rest. I can abide. God wants me to simply BE WITH HIM- present- with whatever I’m doing. To give thanks. To ask for help. To rejoice. To pray. To trust. I’m learning to slow down. To say no. To be content and thankful when it’s just me and aslan hanging out at home- instead of freaking out that I’m not with people or cleaning something.

There are different seasons for everything. This is a season of rest for me. A season to go back to the basics, to remember that ultimately what matters is my relationship with Jesus- to go back to my first love. To not think of him as my employer, but my King and Savior- my Friend and Salvation. To be with Him, and know that I can’t do anything apart from him. I don’t need to prove myself, I just get to be with Him and let His love and light shine forth. For His name’s sake. He’s been showing me this truth through all the changes these past years. Whatever season you find yourself in today sister, know that He is calling for you to abide in him. To come and rest with Him. To find your identity in Him, and then do whatever He leads you to out of a heart that rests. You don’t have to prove yourself sis. He already loves you, completely, forever.