Tell me once again…

I am many things.

I’m a daughter, a student, a teacher, a friend, a sister, an auntie, a niece, and a cousin— just to name a few of the many positions that I fulfill in life.

This summer, I have had the privilege of bouncing back and forth between Colorado and California, focusing on the last two “jobs” on that list as I act as a live-in nanny for my aunt’s two-year old daughter Monica.

Staying out in the Bay Area again has been great. I’ve met new people, seen old friends from Berkeley, and have had amazing home cooked Mexican food and fresh fish for almost every meal. But most importantly, I’ve gotten to build a new layer into my relationship with my aunt.

Being the only two girls on my dad’s side of my family for nearly two decades, my aunt and I have always been very close. In fact, when I was a little kid, I essentially wanted to be my Aunt Vee when I “grew up”.

She has influenced every decision in my life from wanting to be a cheerleader in high school to where I applied for college to what NFL team I cheer for. (Raider Nation, baby! Sorry… couldn’t resist.)

When we’re together, my aunt and I always have a great time. But no matter how much I love my second home with her and her little family, I can’t help but feel a bit stressed out here.

You see, in Colorado I know exactly who I am. I have a routine. I have my job and friends. I even have a regular coffee shop where the owner knows exactly how I like my coffee (and occasionally my breakfast) made.

In Colorado, I’m someone’s teacher, someone’s intellectual equal, someone’s best friend.

But here, I’m just “Vee’s niece. You know, the tall one that used to have a cute Latina afro and little pink boots when she was three…”

Here I’m the bridge between two generations; not an adult in the eyes of my family, but certainly over qualified (and far too tall) to be considered a child by anyone’s standards.

I’m living in a weird flux state where I can’t quite figure out my identity in this new place. I don’t know if I’m coming or going, but I do know that this situation makes me want to get on the first plane and go back home to Colorado.

I know that retreating back to my comfort zone won’t do me any favors. I know that my identity is in (or should be in) my Heavenly Father, and not rooted in who I say I am or who my family views me as.

I know all of this, but I still have identity vertigo.

I’m well aware that I’m not the first, or only twenty-something-year-old to feel this way. But I want a definite answer about who I am, in every situation, not just at home. I want to take the control away from God and say “Look Buddy, I’m getting whiplash here. Just give me an answer before I lose my mind!”

And there in lies my problem. I am trying to discover who I am on my own… and in that process I am removing God. The same God who is the one true root of my identity; The one who knows me better than anyone, including my aunt or even my closest friends.

In the middle of my panic and vertigo, I am reminded…

I’m the one You love, that will be enough.”

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

~Isaiah 43:1

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In a Relationship

I love Summer.

The days are longer, the air is warmer, and maybe it’s just me, but early morning iced coffee and late night ice cream with friends just seems sweeter.

I know that part of my love affair with summer has to do with the fact that I’m young and single. While I lay in a hammock in the California sunshine typing this, I have been switching back and forth to my Facebook where many of my young married friends with children have been chattering about plans to head to the swimming pool, the zoo, the museum, ect. For many, summer seems like a time to hit the ground running, but being in the stage of life that I am, Summer is a time for me to head the opposite direction and slow down.

Without lessons to be planned, papers to grade, or my own homework to do, I have had the pleasure of being able to fill my time with other things these first few weeks of summer vacation.

In the last month, I’ve read more for pleasure and have been able to go out to coffee and have some amazing heart-to-heart talks with friends, both new and old. I’m an incredibly relational person and there are few things that nurture my soul quite like building relationships with the people I love.

My favorite “over coffee” question? “What is God doing in your life right now?”

Roughly three months ago when one of my friends first asked me this question, I was semi-paralyzed. Shoot, I don’t know… I thought, right before my mind went entirely blank.

God seemed so big and abstract. I couldn’t really pinpoint anything specific that He was doing in my life.

But my dear friend (who shall remain nameless) takes a certain amount of joy in watching me squirm in challenging conversations, and week in and week out, he would ask me this until I had an answer. After a few weeks of healthy nudging, I realized something.

Maybe I couldn’t always pinpoint what God was doing in my life because my relationship with Him wasn’t very strong…

After all, I knew exactly what all my friends were doing with their lives because I spent all of my free time talking to them over coffee, but I had never considered doing the same thing with my Creator everyday.

Our Father is a relational God who created us to be in relationship with Him. (Weird how that works, huh?) As Jamie West Zumwalt says in her book Simple Obsession, God didn’t create us because He needed someone/something else to serve Him; He had the angels for that.

God created Adam and Eve and walked through the Garden of Eden with them everyday, simply because He could. God gave us His Son so that He could walk among and beside us. God put the Holy Spirit within all of His believers so that we could experience true unity with Him.

God wants our hearts. He wants our time. He wants to be in a relationship with us.

Think about it. When you begin a new relationship, you spend all of your time getting to know that person. You want to know what they think, what they love, what their heart longs for. And to do this, you have to spend quality time with them.

This quality time looks different for every couple. I have friends who have gotten to know their future husbands and wives over city adventures, coffee dates, dinners, movies, training for marathons, and all kinds of other crazy activities. But the important thing is never the activity planned, but the time spent together.

If we can find the time to spend quality time with our friends and loved ones, why not set aside time to date God? Pour your heart out to Him and listen to what He tells you. Begin building an intimate, loving relationship with your Creator.

It may seem strange, but this summer, I’m dating God. One cup of coffee and conversation at a time, we’re getting acquainted in new ways, through both His Word and my words. And let me tell you, it is a beautiful process.

Where is God working in your life this Summer? Is He calling you into closer relationship with Himself?

~

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us.”

~1 John 4:10