MRP 2018 Focus: Identity Crisis

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Happy New Year!

If you’re like me, a resident of the Eastern coast of the United States, this is a frigid Friday and you’ve curled up with either A) soft and fuzzy warm blankets or B) mugs of varied hot beverages or C) all of the above.

But for all of us, it’s also the first Friday of 2018. Two thousand and eighteen. I know it takes a few recitations for the foreign accent of a new year to melt into normalcy. But 2018 just looks and sounds futuristic to me.

So with that in mind, I’d like to ask you a question.

Who were you on the first Friday of 2000?

Yep, 2000, eighteen years ago. That period of time when Y2K was the biggest of deals, theories and questions about the new millennium ran amok, and a time when most of us were wee bitty teenagers.

Who were you then? What was your life like? What did you want and who did you want to be? What did you expect your life to be like in your 30s, like say, in 2018?

Do you remember?

I’ll go first.

The first Friday of 2000, I was a painfully insecure high school sophomore who loved writing stories and poems. I spoke softly, not to appease those who heard but to avoid their rejection as much as I could. My life was domestically peaceful. My parents loved me and provided a great and wonderful foundation. Yet internally, I consistently felt like I wasn’t enough. What I wanted was to be enough and to feel enough. I wanted to be pursued and loved. So my mind would eagerly throb with daydreams of Thirty-Something Jen. Thirty-Something Jen would have been happily married for 10 years to a handsome and adoring husband. Thirty-Something Jen would be a witty conversational butterfly. Thirty-Something Jen would eat confidence for breakfast and wrap power around her wrists like the wonder woman she’d be.

Now let’s fast forward to today. Who are you now? What is your life like? Based on your expectations in 2000, are you comfortable with where you are now?

I can go first again.

I’ve changed some and changed none. Through Christ, I realize how loved and valued I really am. But I still struggle with confidence. I am not a conversational butterfly and I married my handsome adoring husband only 2 years ago. On this first Friday of 2018, I am a 33-year-old who still speaks softly at times because the security I expected at this point never fully arrived.

How about you? Are you where you thought you’d be?  It’s OK if you aren’t. And the truth is not many of us are.

Life after the age of 30 is presumed to be when women are more confident, more secure and more phlegmatic about themselves and their state of being. But that’s a mistaken belief, one that a lot of us have swallowed whole.

What happens when you thought you’d be a wife and mother by 30, and you’re single at 42? What happens when you thought you’d be an award-winning journalist by 29 and you’re a data entry clerk at 35? When our hopes and aspirations don’t match the reality of our circumstances and we can’t figure out how to join them together, an identity crisis is formed. Our sense of ourselves leaves solid ground and we can drift into uncertainty and resignation.

In 2018, the Modern Ruth Project will focus on the tension of discovering who you are in Christ, who He made you to be in this world, and how to get to and enjoy where you want to be. Throughout the year, we will be posting stories about career growth and transformation, spiritual endurance, marriage/dating experiences and counsel, and maintaining a healthy mindset about who and how the Lord made you.

I can’t wait to go on this year’s journey with you!

 

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Seasons

autumn

The foliage of an oak tree is an ordinary sight in springtime. But a searing summer afternoon is what turn its shade into rare relief. In the winter months, cold air is shunned and cursed as people bundle up. But in the summer, that same arctic chill is hunted and chased by the same people who wished for its end.  Seasons are like that. They enable you to appreciate what was formerly overlooked and make you grateful for what you wouldn’t have otherwise.

I’m in what I would call a tetherball season.  Imagine a ball made of anxiety and doubt, with some teaspoons of fear thrown in for good measure.  Anxiety about our leaders and the world. Doubt about my professional life. Fear about the future. The ball is floating and bouncing on a rocky midnight blue sea. But the size of the ball is dwarfed by the magnitude of the chain attached to it. The thick metal links are fused to a pole in the center of the body of water. So, though the sea tosses and turns the ball over and over, it can never drift away from the anchor.

“God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

-Hebrews 6:18-20

I already knew that God is mighty and securely holds us in His hands. But lately, His daily assurance has been powering my days.  And the security of His word keeps my heart at peace. Only by being in this particular season can I say that I am truly grateful for His strength.

Maybe in a season of loneliness, you cherish His love. Or in a period of doubt, His faithfulness soothes you. Sometimes, going through something will allow you to completely treasure, enjoy, and be thankful for all of who God is.

In your season of life, what about God are you grateful for?

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Jennifer Jen

Hi, there! My name is Jennifer. I’m 32 and live in the D.C. area. I love Jesus, R & B music, and sugar in all its forms :-).

In June 2016, I married my amazing husband, Calvin.

I was completely single and waiting throughout my entire twenties. So I know the prayers, fears, and tears that come with prolonged singleness very well.

I am excited to share my story and encourage single women who are waiting for God’s best!

Cookie Cutter Faith

cookie cutter

As a child, I remember marveling at the explanation for the term, “one size fits all.” A sweatshirt that can fit anyone of any size? What sort of enchanted fabric is this and where can I get it?

Of course, when I matured, I realized that the term is terribly specious. It can indeed fit all but it may be very baggy on one person or too tight on another. 100% perfect fits are the aberration, not the norm.

I was reminded of this during a Bible study session recently. During one particular section, my pastor imparted that there is no unanimous method for spiritual growth. Author Gary Thomas says it this way: “[There are] four elements essential to worship: adoration, communication with God, Scripture reading and service….But here’s the key: How we pray, how we worship and how we study God’s Word will differ.”

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. God did not use cookie cutters to create us.  We were created using a medley of varying gifts, desires, personalities, and idiosyncrasies.  And we were all made to fulfill a different purpose for Him.  So if no one person is exactly the same, why would we relate to God and Him to us in the exact same way?

The diversity of worship and relationships with God is present throughout Scripture. David wrote psalm after psalm filled with praise and exaltation for the Lord. Martha provided care and served the Lord. Elijah routinely and vocally opposed all work against the Lord and His purpose.  And though He loved them both, in John 20, Jesus deals with Mary and Thomas’s contact with Him in different ways.  In verses 16-17, Mary’s motion toward Him was gently denied. According to commentaries, Mary’s joy would have caused her to cling too long. She needed to understand that Jesus was not ascending immediately.  In verses 24-27, Thomas was urged to touch the scars in His flesh. Thomas’s doubt needed to be irrevocably destroyed. He needed to see and feel proof that Jesus is alive. Different people with different relationships with the same God.

When you take time to pray and study the word of God​ ​this week, I encourage​ you​ to also take this spiritual temperament quiz.  Discover in what ways you relate to God and how it can help pave your path to spiritual maturity.

Which spiritual temperament are you? How do you see it influencing your relationship with God and how you worship Him?

Loving Being in the Word

sunbeam

Psalm 119:105 (NIV) “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.”

Let’s admit it – life is tough and full of uncertainties. It’s a natural tendency that we cling to something (or someone) when we face challenging situations or at crossroads.

Personally, reading the Bible has been a life-transforming experience for me.  From it, I gathered gems of wisdom from the writings of the different authors such as King Solomon the author of the book of Ecclesiastes. Lessons on human behavior, culture revolution and leadership from 1 and 2 Kings to the book of Revelation. From matters regarding finances, to relationships, it all can be found in the Bible.

Does that mean that the Bible is the magical quick fix answer to all our problems? The answer is no. In Psalm 119:105, imagine walking on a path in total darkness holding only a lamp. The light emitted from the lamp enables us to see just a few steps ahead, it doesn’t reveal the point of destination. One thing however is to ensure that the light is always near you to give you clarity on the surrounding nearest to you so that you may walk with confidence avoid potential danger. The principles and wisdom found in the Bible grant us ability to comprehend life, have patience in difficult situations and the grit to persevere.

If you are a Christian reading this and wonder how you can start reading the Bible, I’d encourage you to do the following:

  • Start by determining the specific part of the day that you wish to set apart (the time) to do your reading. For example, it could be every morning after breakfast while finishing a cup of coffee (which is my routine) or for some people who prefer reading the Bible before bedtime. The key is discipline and consistency.

 

  • If you are having difficulty to kick start your daily habit of reading the Bible, allow yourself time to get into the routine. You may want to start with the book of Proverbs from the Old Testament, reading it a chapter a day which takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, if you want to start with a book from the New Testament; the book of St. John is a great book to read, also begin with a chapter a day.

 

  • Some of you may have started a routine but find some books such as Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers difficult to read – why not try an audio Bible? Not only that you could download the app for free, with the audio Bible you could listen to the scriptures being read to you whenever and wherever – be it while you are getting ready for work, commuting or winding down for the day.

From biology stand point, a plant can’t grow without water and soil or an individual needs proper nourishment to function efficiently.  The Word of God is the nourishment to our understanding of who God is. There is no short cut to that.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35 (NIV)

Do you struggle with being in the Bible routinely?

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timmie-liew Timmie

Hello, my name is Timmie and I’m from Malaysia. I am a lawyer by profession. I am a charismatic, passionate person and enjoy beautiful things in life such as travelling to different cities to appreciate the culture. I love fashion and appreciate ‘coffee time’ with people to talk about life and build meaningful relationships. I’m passionate about the things of God, the Church and authentic leadership. My deepest desire is to embrace all that God has called me to be and be a blessing to whoever that God has placed in my life past, present and future. Our God is a GREAT God, and the best is yet to come !🙂