By Joanna Roessler
From a young age, I have been very independent. I had the mentality that I knew it all, that I could achieve anything on my own if I tried hard enough. I lived out in the country with lots of hay fields, and every year, we would spend hours playing and jumping on the hay bales. When I was little, they were dauntingly big, forcing me to give up my independence and allow someone to help me up. Eventually, I grew, and it became easier and easier, until I could take a running start to jump on them. What once was daunting and seemingly impossible, became normal, doable, and even easy. What I’ve realized is that this is often how I approach the Lord, assuring Him that I can overcome this hurdle without His help, and relying on my own strength.
In my junior year of college, I transferred to a new school and was starting over. This was the first time that I had moved away from home and was stripped of the support system that I so heavily relied on my whole life. I was stripped of comfort and thrown into this new season. Many nights were filled with feelings of loneliness, restlessness, and fear of where the Lord was calling me. With chapels in every building and the best community that only wanted to build me up and lead me to the Lord, I wondered why I was still in such a hard season. Later I realized that this might have been because I was not running to the Lord with my struggles. I was only telling Him the blessings in my life, which did not seem like many during this season.
I think many of us fall into the trap of only telling Jesus about the good parts of our lives, or of making requests and treating Him more like a vending machine than a friend. Lately, I have been feeling anxious, uneasy, and unsure of what He might be calling me to next. I have been ignoring my underlying unrest and attempting to fix my problems on my own, denying Jesus’ hand that is reaching for me. I have been failing to tell Him what is on my heart.
Like a friend, Jesus wants to hear about our suffering and our pain, and He wants to guide us in the right direction. Jesus wants us to be vulnerable with Him and is waiting to cover us with His love and comfort. Growing up, I felt the need to be strong for everyone and to set my struggles aside to deal with later. I put others first, never speaking for myself, assuring them that I was fine and that I was there for them. I did this with Jesus as well, telling Him that all was well, that I had everything under control and that I didn’t want to be a burden while others might need Him more than I. It took many mid-semester breakdowns and many friends to tell me that my pain is not a burden to Jesus. I am not a burden. Jesus yearns to hear what is on my heart, whether that be blessings or sorrows. He wants to grace me with His presence in every season. He wants to hear about every part of my life and every part of me.
As my first semester at my new college ended, I knew something needed to change. I needed to change. I finally saw that I was not fully trusting the Lord and was denying what He was offering me. The next semester, I found a wonderful sisterhood that not only taught me to run to the Lord, but also held me accountable, physically dragging me to the chapel when I didn’t want to go. They showed me that I cannot do everything on my own, but that I need to embrace the cross every day. They taught me that I am not “too much” for the Lord. This fruitful sisterhood transformed how I spoke with the Lord, how I loved, and how I received. Now that I am capable of jumping up on those hay bales on my own, I have to remind myself that it is okay to surrender that independence and learn to depend on the Lord.
If this season has sucked, turn to God and tell Him. Allow yourself to mourn, and give Him permission to comfort and heal your heart. Give yourself permission to receive His healing. Allow yourself to be dependent on Him. Allow yourself to give up control. Allow yourself to simply be—and to be His.