So Good.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

Michael, Tucker, and I like to watch the world go by on our screened-in porch.

Tucker in particular likes to watch people walk to and fro on our street – bonus points if those people are walking a dog and making a lot of noise. In Tucker’s world, those are the best kinds of people.

Today, kitten’s ears pricked and his paws cupped his chin as he lowered his head to stalk the nearest movement. I looked up to see what grabbed kitten’s attention this time.

It was a toddler wearing plaid and his dad following him with careful hands always at the ready to catch a tumble.

The toddler chose his points of interest and without hesitation followed his tiny little heart’s desire to each new moment: the grass, the sidewalk, a small, flat boulder.

The toddler and his dad stopped at the boulder. The toddler slapped it and looked at his dad. The dad slapped it too and smiled and showed how to climb on. Toddler stared in determination and climbed, but cautiously stayed crouched down on all fours. The dad held out his hands and encouraged Toddler to stand on his own on top of the boulder he’d just conquered.

Boldly, the toddler stood on shaky legs, thrilled to pieces. But the cute thing was, he wasn’t really standing on his own. His dad was holding him with careful arms but Toddler didn’t notice. Toddler was too excited and pleased with life at the moment to notice. He smiled at his dad, and his dad smiled back. The toddler delighted in his boulder victory, and the dad delighted in his son.

It stirred in my heart: they are made in the image of God – the baby and the dad.

Just look at the wide-eyed curiosity and enthusiasm the toddler enjoys. I like to think that the God who made fluffy clouds and macaroni and cheese and slinkies and giraffes with long necks and ticklish spots is a creative and curious and enthusiastic God, just like the hopeful toddler.

 When Jesus’s disciples asked Him who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven, Jesus responded this way:

“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2-4).

But my favorite part to watch might have been the toddler’s dad. While the toddler delighted in the world around him, in the flat boulder and the green grass, the dad delighted in his son. I like to think that’s how our Heavenly Father feels about us. The toddler’s dad was protective. He encouraged. He played. He smiled and he laughed along with Toddler’s squeals with kind eyes and when his son tried to run at top speed down a hill, the dad was there to run with him and slow him down because the short toddler legs were tying up in knots.

It reminded me of how sometimes all of us get tied up in knots. And Jesus tells us we have a Father “Our Father in heaven, Holy is your name…” (Matthew 6:9), who, David reminds us, is there with us in both the tangled knots and the victorious heights:

“Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar…If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:1-14).

So the dad delighting in his son is an image of our Heavenly Father. And the son smiling with delight is the image of our powerful, good, exciting God.

How God can reveal Himself through both the unashamed joy of a toddler and the unconditional love and security of a dad all at the same time is a mystery and a comfort. I like to think God has loving eyes and careful hands for His children like this dad on our street. And at the same time, I like to think God has excitement, adventure, and joy like the toddler exploring the land.

So if we are made in His image as sinful (but forgiven, my friends!) humans, how much greater, then, is this perfect God we serve? Mm. So good.

Things Learned As a Young, Jesus-loving Post-Grad Female – Two Years In

1.     Everyone doesn’t have it all together – no matter what Facebook and Instagram make it look like.

        You can see mine and Michael’s wedding pictures on social media, but what you don’t see is the months of pre-marital counseling, hard work, tears, and prayers that got us there with God’s love and help.
        You will see pictures of friends’ new jobs and their smiling faces on the way to their first day of work, but what you don’t see is the months and even years of job searching it took to get them to that exciting day. You are not the only one searching.
        You will see pictures (someday!) on my Instagram of the house that I am so excited to buy. What you won’t see is the year I spent living with my parents to save money on rent.
       As Louie Giglio said, “We don’t Instagram a lot of our reality, do we? If it’s not a good hair day, no selfie today!”
I’m all for sharing delightful, joyful pictures depicting God’s faithfulness and goodness and fluffy kittens and beautiful sunsets and elaborate dinners. My Instagram is proof of that. But I also finally realize that we are all real people behind our social media. No one has it all together. But, praise God! He does. And He holds everything together (Colossians 1:17).
      Jesus said “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). It takes wisdom and self-control, but I can’t let comparison steal, kill, and destroy my self-worth via social media. Jesus came so that we can have life, and have it abundantly – even if that abundant post-grad life feels different sometimes from those pictures on Facebook because it’s lived under the roof of a parents’ house to save money on rent, is spent searching for a job, is spent working hard for a marriage, or is spent at a job other than the one you wanted right off the bat. Despite the mirage of Facebook and Instagram, everyone is real. And we are promised an abundant life from the One who loves us most.

2.   Being anxious doesn’t add a single hour to anyone’s span of life. Matthew 6:27. I need this reminder daily. Hourly, even.

3.   When having a particularly bad day, it’s best to go do something active and listen to “Gold” by Britt Nicole or any fast songs by Mandisa. Seriously, do it. It will change your day. Mandisa understands – and she’ll make you dance on the treadmill while she’s at it. Really.

4.   On that note – Go for the run! Eat the ice cream, too! Both are glorious treats to end any work day. I would advise eating the ice cream second, however.

5.   Pray for the people who hurt you. Really. It’s healing for you, and it’s a blessing for them. Plus, you need God to do it. That’s the best position to be in.
Praying for hurtful people is hard, sanctifying, and beautifully freeing. I love the God we serve. He heals and blesses us in miraculous ways.

6.   Italian bread crumbs make any meal taste better. Literally. Pasta, chicken, green beans, everything. It’s a good idea to keep the 24 oz can handy in the pantry.

7.   It’s okay to start at square one. In fact, now I think it’s good to start at square one. I think sometimes as graduates we expect to have the jobs our parents had and the house our parents had and the budget our parents had, but what we forget is they started at square one, too. And they worked hard.

8.   Cleaning is a necessary evil. I like to start at square one with cleaning, too. For instance, I’ll put a load in the wash. Then I’ll take a break to watch a Boy Meets World rerun. Next I’ll switch the laundry. And then I’ll watch Love It or List It. Then somehow the cleaning gets done. Michael probably has a lot to do with that. But really, there’s nothing like getting home from work to a vacuumed carpet. It’s the little things.

9.   Coffee.

10.   Focusing on other people around you helps put things into perspective. If you tend toward worrying incessantly (like me) it’s also one of the best cures for anxiety, alongside thankfulness.

11.   Watching Pride and Prejudice is a surefire way to make any bad day better. If you’re female.

12.   You’re beautiful. Praise the Lord! All beautiful, actually – flawless. That’s in the Bible (Song of Solomon 4:7). So it’s true! Woohoo!! Don’t let the “frumpy” days fool or define you.

13.   A wise person once told me, “The work WILL get done.” And it does! It always does! At some point you need to take a break and do something you love. The work will get done. Far better to finish the work refreshed than to finish it cranky and at 1 in the morning.

14.  Reading scripture is not about checking a good deed off your list. It’s about being lovingly reminded in the midst of the busy work week of who you are and to Whom you belong.

15.  Upon entering the working world – give yourself grace. Something I think God has taught me is that He is not checking logged hours of reading the Bible or praying. No, that’s a perfectionist mindset. When you enter the working world, it’s different than college. Much less of your time is your own. Your day looks different. Your job can drain you in ways that a marathon of finals in college doesn’t even come close to. The pressure can feel constant – new employee, you are NOT ALONE in feeling that way! But what God promises is that He is the Constant One (Hebrews 13:8), and He loves to meet us where we are. Jesus surprises me with the reality that spending time with Him isn’t about proving that I love Him. It’s Him proving His steadfast love and graciousness. Performance-based mindsets need humility to receive that love. And about that constant pressure from your job – from personal experience, I bet the pressure is from your own “standards” and I bet you are doing an awesome job. ☺

16.   Your name. Your name happens to be Beloved Child of God (Eph 5:1). The world will try to call you lots of different things. Lots of things. Not always in words, even. Not always bad names, either. But, sometimes we take on burdens and identities based on how someone treats us. It’s a daily choice to remember your true name: Beloved. God has the final say. Rest in that.

17.   But really, above everything else, Jesus. All these good things come from Him. And He is good. All the time (Lamentations 3:22-23).

18.   Coffee. It’s worth mentioning again.

Praise God, for His loving mercy on us post-grads and all His children! ☺

Blessings to you, and peace,

Robyn