struggling with guilt, but receiving redemption

coming back to the states has been great. 
getting to see all my friends and family again has been really good for this lonely soul. school has started up full swing and my schedule is pretty full. full with things i really truly love like veritas and adapted ice skating and small groups. getting to attend church each week has been oh so good for my weary self. especially when Keith and Dave aren't buffering over a weak wifi connection (:

i moved into a different house with three really awesome ladies. my room is slowly but surely coming together. classes are intense, but i'm learning none the less. spending time with friends and luke has been awesome. the weather has been pretty stinking great here in Missouri and i'm super thankful for that.
basically everything is going great and i don't have much to complain about. 

except,
i've been struggling.
and struggling hard.

with lies and guilt and shame and regret.
with bitterness and sorrow and frustration with myself.
and it's hard.
spiritual warfare is strong y'all,
but thankfully our God is stronger.

here's what's up.
i spent my summer as a missionary/intern in nicaragua.
and it was hard.
i was told and promised things about this summer that just weren't true.
they didn't mean for this to happen, but communication got off-kiltered and that's what happened. 
the plans that were drafted for me by the mission organizers in the states weren't able to be accomplished on site like i was told. 
it's not the ministry's fault & there are no hard feelings, 
but that's what happened.

i had a plan.
and God said mmm, maybe not.
and as hard as i tried to be go with the flow,
(and most of the time i was)
my heart got clouded.

as my plan continued to unravel & uncertainty grew and grew,
i started to struggle emotionally.

i struggled with feeling unwanted and lonely. 
i struggled with pride in not wanting to admit my struggling.
and i cried.
a lot.

but mostly i felt guilty.
guilty for feeling these emotions when i had a family and i had money and i had friends and a home and a college education when the kids i was serving didn't.
how could i justify my feeling of unwantedness when that's all these kids have ever known?
how could i feel lonely when i was surrounded by such loving kids and staff?
how could i be so selfish with my petty struggles?

and now that i'm home, these feelings of guilt have grown even more.
i should have done more. i shouldn't have cried in my room. i should have gone out and played with the kids more. i should have been a better example of Christ. i should have taken those struggles straight to the Lord, received grace, and just moved on. i should have loved more, taught more, hugged more. i should have prayed more, studied my spanish more, and should have spent less time in my room. 

and as i try to work through these emotions, it's hard.
but here's the deal.
there are two things you can do with guilt.

you can
1) let the devil hold it over your head and constantly condemn you
or 
2) we can be convicted; realizing our wrong, taking this guilt straight to Christ, repenting and asking for forgiveness

there's condemnation and there's conviction and both are very real.
the devil fights for condemnation and he's good at it.
he convinces us that our sins can't be forgiven. that we screwed up and that's that. nothing good will ever come from it. we're bad Christians and we should be ashamed. 

but here's the beauty from chaos y'all.

Romans 8:1 shouts the promise I've been searching for these past few months
& it says,

"Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (NIV)

or as the Message puts it

"With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death." Romans 8:1-2

can we just throw up a hallelujah at that?!
goodbye black cloud, hello clean air.
we're set free in Christ.
we've been redeemed!

because here's the thing.
guilt should lead us to repentance.
conviction is good.
we should be conflicted with Godly sorrow and
it should lead us to communion with the Lord.

in Psalm 25, we're led to prayer in verse 11
"For your name's sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great."
and later in verse 16
"Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;    bring me out of my distresses
Consider my affliction and my trouble,    and forgive all my sins."

my sins are plenty.
there are a lot of things i wish i did differently.
and i wish i could go back and change them.
but God taught me a lot this summer and He's continuing to do so today.

and today He's calling me back to Him.
calling me back with open arms and compassion.
because He's an incredible God.
The God who sent His Son so that we could be forgiven.
So that we could be convicted and taken back.
So that we would proclaim His name and His greatness when He does so.
because it's not about us.
but it's all about Him.

as Psalm 25:11 said, 
"For your name's sake, O Lord,
pardon my guilt, for it is great."

For HIS name's sake.
pardon my guilt so i can lift you high Lord.
pardon my guilt so that others see your compassion and love.
pardon our guilt so that we can live freely for YOU.

my summer was hard, but i loved it.
not every minute of it, but overall i loved it.
God worked in some stinking awesome ways and I'm still in awe.
i met amazing people & got to experience some amazing things.
i fell in love with multiple kiddos who i continually miss day after day.
i learned to love rice and beans and movie nights with the kids.
the kids taught me how to dance nicaraguan style, how to play marbles, and how to love.
they taught me more than i could ever imagine & i am so thankful for their sweet little souls. 
i'm thankful for the love that they receive from the children's homes and the missionaries there.
i'm thankful for unexpected friends like Bill, whose friendship was a constant throughout the summer. 
i'm thankful for the opportunities to organize medicine and getting to "teach ballet" and for the random games that Milton made up for us to play.
i'm thankful that the Lord allowed me to teach kindergarten and that He gave me patience. 
(okay, sometimes the patience was lacking and that has been repented for. i'm not called to be a teacher, remember?!)
i'm thankful for encouragement from other missionaries and for the friendships of the tias. 
the list is endless y'all.

God did awesome things this summer and I am so truly thankful.
I'm thankful that He takes our guilt away & washes us clean.
i'm thankful for forgiveness and redemption.
I'm so incredibly thankful that He brought me to Nicaragua this summer.
I'm thankful that He continues to tug on my heart when it comes to missions.
that His fire is still burning & that He hasn't given up on me.

gosh He is good guys.
oh so stinking good.

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