Capacity

Friend: “Have you celebrated getting in to Bethel yet!?”
Hannah: “Actually no celebrating – basically just worrying and then repenting for worrying *3 laugh emojis, followed by a wide eyed emoji*

in-de-pend-ent
adjective
1. free from outside control; not depending on another’s authority (that’ll preach)
2. not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence
3. Hannah Riggin

I am independent to the core; through upbringing and wiring, I am determined to be responsible and to accomplish as much as possible without letting anyone ever see me sweat. Maybe you’re like this too – always covering your bases, never wanting to inconvenience anyone.

I don’t notice the extent of my independence until incidents like the one that happened at Sam’s Club a few weeks ago:
It is my responsibility to pick up all of the food for these weekly community cookouts that our church helps to facilitate. We plan to feed about 150 people every Thursday.

Feeding 150 people for the first week of our summer cookouts at Sam’s Club looks something like this:
3 boxes of hamburgers
2 boxes of hotdogs
Pans for grilling
4 monster sized cans of baked beans
3 boxes of 42 pack chips
Oh, don’t forget the lemonade
And also the massive quantity ketchups and mustards
Oops! We need plates and cups and napkins and cutlery

…the list goes on. For anyone that’s ever been to Sam’s, you know that the size of the items in your cart are significantly greater than they would be if you made a quick run to Walmart.
My cart was spilling over, and as I made my way to the front of the store I realized I had forgotten one super significant item – the buns.
The slippery, “I’m gonna need 16 of each of you”, “Don’t you dare squish me with the other items in your cart” buns.
I made it about 3 steps and the buns would slide off of my grocery mound. That’s right — ALL the way through the parking lot, to the back of the parking lot of course (did I mention half of Winston was there?). Take three steps, drop some buns, pick them up, lose some dignity. Repeat.

I needed help, and I wasn’t willing to ask. Contrary to my belief, it is a bit difficult for 1 person to singlehandedly feed 150 other people.

grocery

It isn’t a surprise that I find myself in very similar situations planning to move across the country for ministry school.

The truth is, I want to say that I’ve got it, that I don’t need help. I want the option of spending a half hour in Sam’s Club parking lot and just not telling anyone about it. I want to hide the effort, the cost, the need, and the worry. Some call it pride, some call it consideration, and honestly, it’s probably a little of both.

I think we all reach moments in our lives when our capacity has reached its limit. In those  moments, no matter how much we’d like to step it up and carry a little more, we simply can’t.

“Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.”
Isaiah 54:2

The Lord gave me this scripture while I was applying for Bethel, telling me that in my season, my capacity had been reached. He wanted to give me more, but there was no space for anything new in my life the way that it was – things had to change, and I didn’t know it at the time, but the curtains of my habitations were being stretched out (literally).

It’s funny because that verse seems to contradict everything that I mentioned above. I’m realizing something, though: There is a huge difference between our own, independent, “I will do this” capacity and the one we obtain in surrender.
When I refuse to ask for help – whether it be because of pride or out of fear that God coming through is only a story people tell themselves to get through hard times, and not a stark reality, I greatly limit how much I can receive.

It would be like if a family member offered to clean your messy kitchen for you. You listened, said thank you, and then proceeded to clean the entire thing yourself before they got around to doing it.
It’s fine – the kitchen is still clean, but stepping in to handle it kept the family member from getting to contribute.

I am not in ANY way saying that our ability to get in the way is greater than God’s ability to help us – his arm is never too short. But for me, in this season, I do feel him inviting me to let him in. I hear him saying “I really want to bless you – will you let go of your fear of not being taken care of and let me outdo anything you could have accomplished in your own effort?” And in “funny later, but not at the time” moments I hear him saying “Han, you literally can’t do this one on your own – even if you wanted to.”

May each of us be granted the bravery we need to believe that we are loved and cared for. May each of us be granted the courage to know that the provision of tomorrow isn’t dependent on our performance or our own capacity, but in perfect Love that never waivers or changes its mind.

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I am sharing this journey via blog on the world wide web for a few reasons:
1. I have every intention of blogging more regularly throughout this journey, because I’m coming to find that story is powerful and one of the tools God uses most to encounter other people. Let’s call this the prelude to all of the blogging entries to come.

2. PRAYER. Y’all, this ISFJ, green-blue on the DISC test girl HATES CHANGE and LOVES SECURITY. I hate change even when it’s awesome, just because it’s different than what I’m used to. There is nothing familiar in this guaranteed to be spectacular season change. (There are many other areas to be covered in prayer, I am sure, it’s just the quirkiest, yet also realest thing I’m facing right now).

3. SUPPORT. This is the hardest for me for a million reasons – my “no that’s okay I’ve got it” independence, and the fact that as humans, we love to point to something and say “this measurable proof shows that this is worth investing in” .. but those voices fade in the face of last-minute transitions and no-other-choice.
Tuition for the school year is $4,550. In addition to this cost, I have to cover living expenses and continue to cover all of my adult bills. I will be working part-time throughout the school year to supplement, of course, but it is very scary going from full-time job money to part-time, the cost of living staying the same but the income being cut in half. Because the school is not accredited, student loans are not an option.
Talk about a faith walk — one of those moments where the rubber hits the road, and the theology that is much easier to quote is actually put to the test.
If you would like to give toward this adventure, donations can be made via Paypal
1. http://www.paypal.me/hannahriggin

THANK YOU so much for reading, praying, and supporting!

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On longing, pain, honesty, and singleness blogs.

 To the single girl who cried alone in her car on the way home after another wedding;

To the girl who dreams about the layout of her one-day home with Anthropologie mugs and friends at coffee tables, candles and week-night dinners, kids storming through the house and sink loads of dishes, bedding and towels and couch pillows that comfort down deep;

To the girl who swallows hard each time hope deferred hits as another person asks if you’re seeing anyone;

To the anxious heart who feels that they will never be picked or find compatibility;

To the girl who has fled from Instagram a half gazillion times just to pretend, for a short while, like wedding hashtags don’t exist;

To the girl who has been overtaken multiple times by the fear hurricane that comes each time another friend pairs off and your circle of company dwindles even more;

To the girl who has wondered just how many roommates you will have to learn to live with and adjust to, and how many houses you will have to move into before you get to settle for good;

To any girl who has felt unwanted, unloveable, third wheeled, pitied, or overlooked.

I see you, I know you, and I am you.
I am not going to tell you that you should be letting God fill you completely. I’m not going to shame you for longing and ask you why Jesus isn’t enough —
I’m not going to pull the “why aren’t you feeling complete” card because somewhere in that message, it is communicated that there are certain kinds of girls that don’t have to learn that hard lesson, and certain kind of girls that do. Somewhere in that message, striving kicks in, and at best you’re putting on a great, “look at how satisfied I am in the Lord” face — but I know that the pain is still there.
I applaud you for making the most out of your life right now. I applaud you for being independent and taking your freedoms and embracing the ‘little obligations to other people’ season you’re in.
–But I also know those nights when unintentional comments are made that tear you apart, when loneliness creeps in and seems to be claiming a bedroom of its own in the home of your heart. I know too, too well how many ugly, deep, painful cries you’ve had when no one is around. I know what it feels like to be ‘running out of time’ — to wonder if you missed something, did something wrong, or just weren’t provided for.

There’s a particular voice of shame that comes in when you’re trying, with all of your might, to celebrate with the friends who are being handed the very thing that you asked for. The voice that says that you’re selfish, needy, and broken by your own choice.
I want to tell you today that shame is a liar. Thank you so much for the broken congratulations and the ‘give it all you’ve got’ celebrations that you’ve given despite the pain.

Here’s the problem with singleness blogs —
We all want an answer. We all want a once-and-for-all solution to the mountain of anxiety, fear, and loneliness that rears its head at the most inconvenient times.
And a lot of times, we try to offer one to those that are hurting, but I don’t really think there is one.

It’s like trying to come up with a once and for all answer to the “Why do bad things happen to good people?” question — or the “Why did my loved one die even after I prayed for them?” mystery.

Some things aren’t black and white. Some things can’t be solved with a few sentences strung together on the internet or a few faith concepts you ‘should be’ putting into practice. Maybe we don’t need an answer that will fix us, but a journey with the One who is healing, who is peace, and who is the one that will stand with us forever despite the time or season.

Here’s what I know – I have lost count of the days that I have found myself a broken mess. I have become well acquainted with the belly of anxiety that swallows me when I’m just not strong enough to fight it off.

I also have a record of all of the times that Jesus comes in and calms the storm. I have promises and truths about his nature that are laid like planks of wood in the foundations of my heart because I’ve been willing to be honest. The storms keep coming, but He’s faithful to keep on coming.
I have a record of all of the people who have let me borrow buckets of faith when my barrels had run dry — of all of the friends who have prayed and continually fought for God given dreams, and those who have sung my own song back to me.
And just because you’ve found yourself in another storm doesn’t mean that you’re failing. You have Jesus in your boat, and when you don’t have enough faith to speak to the waves, you can wake him up.

It’s true that a man won’t complete you and that you’re already a whole person.
It’s true that there are beautiful gifts in this season of your life that you’ll never get back, and they deserve to be savored.
It’s true that there will ALWAYS be something that we’re longing for that threatens to drain us of our peace — longings for direction, connection, new jobs, children, whatever.

But you are not being shamed for the longing, and the Lord knows what to do with your brokenness. He is faithful to heal you and speak to the places of pain that reach far deeper than whether or not you have a spouse. From the beginning He has always been loving you into wholeness, one step at a time — never fixing you so that you can perform and produce and become all of the things you’ve been told you should be by now.
Please don’t feel that you have to hide in shame or fix yourself or conquer this thing on your own – He is a present help that sees, understands, empathizes, and wants to give you truths that will last for all eternity.

May we fall more and more in love with the One who loves us perfectly — the God of the journey and the process, who sees the whole picture, knows and cares for our desires, and has our best interest in mind.

Storyteller

I’m the girl that has to read the last few pages of a book before I’ll commit to reading it at all.
The story has got to end well. I’m not going to invest all of my time, energy, and emotionalness into a journey that fizzles out at the end.

I remember picking up a Karen Kingsbury book my senior year of high school.
Plot line: A picture perfect family from Florida adopts a little boy and gives him an ideal life. The problem? Biological momma forged the father’s signature on the adoption papers. He’s now out of jail after 4 years AND WANTS HIS SON BACK. Oh God.. 3 chapters in, I frantically flipped to the back of the book to ensure all of the emotion and near heart connection made with the characters would be worth it.

It was, and I finished the book. (I also decided I was NOT going to college to be a social worker, like I had planned to do up to that point.)

I’m ALSO the girl that will ask about the ending of a movie before I watch it (and give movies with bad endings very bad reviews).

 

I can’t google and IMDB my life.. it doesn’t contain pages 239, 240, and 241 that I can quickly take a peek at, just to be sure. (That’s pretty difficult for a girl like me, insistent on happy endings)

There are stories in my life that don’t seem to end well – I’ve been betrayed, heartbroken, let down by leaders… I have unanswered questions and gray seasons that I haven’t made sense of yet.
In new, unknown things, I find myself anxious to be further along than I am, crossing my fingers for things to unfold in a particular way. I need to know it will be worth it – hold my breath until the happy ending.

Here’s the issue – I can spend so much time holding my breath that I skim through a lot of the story instead of soaking in every page. I can get through page 134, disappointed because I have no way of knowing the final outcome. Page 134 might be full of beauty and wonder and adventure, but anxiety will dim all of that pretty quickly if it’s allowed. 

Reading life page by page is scary – there are ups, downs, twists, turns, and no guarantees. BUT we have a promise that it will all be worth it. We have a promise that redemption has the final word, and that every twist and turn will be worked together for our good. Jesus is an incredible storyteller who always finishes what he starts – he won’t quit writing, he won’t give up or get bored with your story. Even the bleak moments have a way of making the finale more wonderful – each defeat is only a stepping stone into greater beauty and promise. 

We have to be brave enough to trust the one writing the story – even if things don’t work out like we planned, they will be bigger, better, soaked in redemption, and always worth it. Sometimes things turn out the way we hope – but we are free to enjoy the ride getting to the outcome instead of just hanging on for dear life in the backseat. We are allowed to loosen our white knuckle grip that wants to control and make things happen. I quit needing to make things happen myself when I believe that he’s making them better than I ever could. 

Let our hearts be strengthened in knowing that we are in the middle of the most beautiful story ever written with the happiest of all endings imaginable. Every detail has been established with so much thought and care, and we are safe to trust the author. If you’re in a low or an unexpected twist, it isn’t the end, it will only enhance the climax of the story when everything comes together seamlessly. 

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