Eyes on the Prize

Grief changes a person. It’s not something that can just be bounced back from, expecting to be the same person. One minute, all seems right in the world, and in the next second it’s completely turned upside down. And it never goes back to the way it was. Plans change. Goals are altered. Perspective is shifted. Ultimately, a new path is forged.

In the days after my dad passed, I had little cares. Days blended into one another and the nights were marked with little sleep. All of my giant plans and to-do lists wilted into infinitesimal nothings. As time wore on, though, the days got a little better and the pieces of my life started fitting back together. This rebuilding, however, didn’t follow the same blueprint from my life ‘before.’ Some pieces were removed while others were added; each change, though, further molded my life and heart.

The changes that have occurred in me are for my betterment, of which I am sure. It’s quite difficult, however, to accurately describe these changes. I barely recognize the woman I was before my dad passed, yet I’m finding it cumbersome to identify and articulate those differences. However, there are two things of which I am certain have changed: I worry less and trust more.

If there was one thing I was good at growing up, it was worrying. I had an affinity to worry about anything and everything, which I’m sure caused a great deal of strife in my parents. Not only that, but I’d get worked up about minute details. If something didn’t go the way it was supposed to, all hell would break loose in my head. PRAISE THE LORD that this has changed. I’m much more at ease and calm about whatever life throws my way. I’ve been freed from the anxiety that used to so easily entangle me.

What’s more, my spiritual gifts have been further developed and rooted within me. I can confidently say that one of my spiritual gifts is faith. Not even for the slightest of moments after my dad passed did I ever question God and his supremacy. I’ve found so much freedom through Christ in surrendering and entrusting everything to Him.

And isn’t that ultimately what Christ desires from us? To surrender ourselves to Him? Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for us, so that we may experience freedom through Him. Reflecting on the cross this past Easter weekend has filled me with awe once again. It’s difficult to fathom exactly what Jesus endured for us, as well as the love He had for us before we were even created.

When Jesus first started his ministry, he mainly healed people of their physical ailments. Today, not only does he still do that, but he more so heals us of our heart ailments. That’s why he came! Our hearts are wicked and the only medicine is Jesus. This medicine is free for us, but we must choose it. Each day we must rise, set our sights on Jesus, and choose to follow Him. Each morning, I strive to make Jesus my very first thought and lift the day up to Him. This focus has drastically changed my world. When I’m focused on Christ, the problems that rival my attention seem to fall away.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” // Colossians 3:1-2

This verse has completely taken over my mind and it’s my go-to in pretty much any circumstance. It’s easy to become attached to this world and the people and things in it. When this happens, though, we create this little bubble wherein life occurs, making sure to keep the things and people we love in it. However, when a loved one is ripped away, it pops that little bubble we’ve created and forces us to expand our thinking. I lived inside that little bubble for a long time, fearful of drifting away from it, from what was familiar.

Even though I didn’t choose to pop my bubble, I’m thankful that it did. My earthly tie to my dad wasn’t in itself a bad thing, but losing it made me open my eyes and become more Kingdom-focused. One of my biggest fears was losing someone I loved. Looking back, I now see how it held me back in several ways. More importantly, though, it opened my eyes to see the Lord more clearly. I was not created to simply be born, grow up, go to school, get married, have babies, work, and then die. No, I was created to love God, love others, and spread His good news. Of course those other things may happen, but they aren’t my ultimate reason for being here. I knew this as truth before, but it means so much more to me now.

There is a difference between knowing about God and knowing God. Figuring this one out has radically changed my life. I am so in love with my savior. I desire Him above all else and work each day at keeping Him number one. It’s not always easy, but I can promise you it is well worth it.

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