The word "season" has come up in conversation a lot more than usual this year, and it made me reflect on the kind of year that I was having. 6 months into 2020 I realized I'm in a season of refinement and revival.
In all honestly I had nothing BIG planned for 2020, I just knew that this was going to be the year that I started my last year of undergrad. I had this kind of personal superstition that even-numbered years were going to be my worst years just because of events that have happened in the past. For example, my grandma passed away in 2014, my grandpa in 2016, and I transferred back home in 2018. In a sense, I was kind of expecting something to go wrong in 2020 (we all know what happens next lol). I know, I know, the whole manifesting thing is real and if I expect to have a bad year then I will most likely have a bad year. I realized that this mentality wasn't healthy for me and I needed to unlearn it. Rather than perceiving these "even-numbered" years as my worst years, I began to see them as seasons of growth.
Seasons of growth aren't linear. Seasons of growth are not linear.
With everything that has happened in 2020, I would say this is the most I've ever seen my faith life being challenged, but it is also the strongest I've ever seen it.
I unconsciously strayed away from God, I felt like I lost touch of my purpose in this pandemic, I was stressed, I was anxious, I felt burnt out. I was in my head 24/7, crying almost every night, trying so hard to keep it together. I was dealing with a lot of things that I didn't want to talk about with anyone else, I lost my confidence, I let my insecurities consume me. I thought I was fine but I wasn't. I was trying hard to make the most of what I had and trying hard to hold things together. I remember asking God what he was doing because I didn't understand any of it. A friend of mine told me that sometimes we should stop trying to look for answers and just trust God.
One day, through a sermon, I heard God tell me to stop fighting and to let go. To let go of the burdens, to let go of the situations that were out of my control, to raise my hands and surrender. He reminded me, through the pastor, that He's working on something greater in my life; that His rejection is for my protection. I made a reflection that night on my creative page that I look back at from time to time, even a video to myself haha, so that I can remember where I've been and how far I've come.
by Alicia Britt Chole
"That we not mistake unseen for unimportant. Hidden years are unapplauded but not unproductive. They are sacred spaces, to be rested in not rushed through and most definitely never to be regretted.
In this personal, reflective book, Alicia helps us recognize the riches that God grows in us during uncelebrated seasons of our lives."
This book changed my life and I always refer back to it. It helped me to further embrace this season of refinement and revival, as well as, pay attention to certain areas in my faith life that I was neglecting. I won't do a book review in this post haha but just know that I highly recommend it especially if you feel like you're in a "in the meantime" kind of season.
There's a song that I came across this past year and it's called,
"Refiner" by Maverick City Music ft. Steffany Gretzinger and Chandler Moore.
I remember when I first watched this video I was just in awe of the Spirit in the room. You can tell just by watching the video that heart and soul was poured into the music. The reason I bring this song up is because of the lyrics:
I wanna be tried by fire Purifier You take whatever you desire Lord here's my life
Clean my hands, purify my heart I wanna burn for you, only for You Take my life as a sacrifice I wanna burn for you, only for You
This right here is a song of surrender and that is exactly what you need in a season of refinement. To refine something means to "remove impurities or unwanted elements from (a substance)" (merriam-webster.com). As Christian Catholics, it's so important to recognize that we are sinners and do our best to stay away from sin and temptation. We should all be working toward holiness and cultivating our relationship with Christ. I've made it a habit to make a daily commitment to God by saying phrases like, "thy will be done," "more of Him, less of me," or "I die to myself and I rise in Christ." Sometimes I even sing this song during my personal morning worship. It really is the simple things that truly make a difference throughout our days. The act of surrendering each day will lead you closer to understanding the person God made you to be.
To be even more real with you, there are days where I question if I’m able to live God’s calling. I question if what I’m doing is really worth it. Is being vulnerable and sharing my testimony just a waste of space? I question if I’m even qualified to share God’s word. Who would listen to young girl that just started her 20’s? That right there, is shame and doubt talking. They come around often. They try to distract you from God’s purpose and deceive you into thinking you’re not able. But God says you are able. He doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. God calls each and every one of you by name. You just have to show up and stand your ground.
It’s in these seasons of growth that we begin to understand the importance of having a firm foundation in Christ. If something isn’t right in our lives and doesn’t align with God’s will, the moment you say, “God, break my heart for what breaks yours” it is no doubt that everything you’ve built will start crumbling down. That’s not a bad thing. God is building His kingdom in you. You need to break down the old to let the new things in. You need to break down the walls to get to the foundation. You need to start from the beginning. It may feel like you’ve lost everything and maybe you did. But know the differences between losing this world versus losing Jesus. I don’t know about you but I’d rather lose everything of this world than to lose my relationship with Christ.
When you know who God is and who He’s called you to be, which is a Child of God, then no fear, doubt, shame, or worry will ever stop you from living out your purpose. The moment you declare “thy will be done” will be your revival. It’s no longer you who lives but Christ who lives in you (Galatians 2:20).
Seasons always serve a purpose. Whether it's to glorify God, reconnect with God, bring other people closer to God; all these things are aligned with God's purpose for His church.
What made me realize that this was a season of revival for me was the fact that I found myself falling back in love with Christ, but on a deeper level this time. I found myself truly seeing God for who He is, what He's done, and what He's doing right now in my life. I always say this but it's because it reigns true: God is not just "a God", God is my comforter, He's my protector, He's my Father, He's my healer, He's my friend. God is a close, caring, constant, and competent Father. He has a plan for us - better than we can even imagine for ourselves - that are meant to prosper us, to give us hope, and a future (Jeremiah 29:11-12)
Another song that comes to mind is this: 'Lord Send Revival' - Hillsong Young and Free
I was first introduced to this song by my close-friend (and manong) Ozzie while we were just jamming out in the car to worship music. I remember hearing him sing it and I was like, "OH that's a good song" and then I went on for days listening to this acoustic session haha.
As Alex had beautifully said in the beginning of this video, our God is faithful. He has the power to revive even the most dormant parts of our lives. He's done it once on the cross, and we're confident that he'll do it again because of His unconditional love and mercy. God brings beauty from ashes, he turns shame in to glory, mourning to dancing. How beautiful is that?! Thinking about it makes my heart so full. We are so unworthy of God's love, mercy, and grace, yet he never fails to share it with us because He loves us THAT much.
As Cory Asbury said in his song, Nothing More Than You,
"The one who made the world somehow thinks the world of me. The highest king of heaven, chose to love a fool, I don't understand it, but I know that I want nothing more of you" (1:04-1:25).
The biggest lesson I've learned in this season was giving glory and praise to God no matter the circumstance. He wants to commune with us, He wants to be loved by us, He wants what's best for us. God deserves all honor, praise, and worship; not only because he's sovereign but because he is our salvation. I've had to unlearn and re-learn that worship isn't restricted to music, it really is as simple as lifting your hands up in full surrender or doing the sign of the cross. Prophetic worship is showing the love of Christ to others, even to those who we think don't deserve it. When we praise God, we praise His goodness, His faithfulness, and because He is our Redeemer.
This "anonymous season" has definitely helped me create an unshakeable identity in Christ and helped me fast from the temptations of applause, temptations of appetite, and temptations of authority. It helped me slow down and sit with my emotions rather than forcing myself to be okay.
This season helped me step out of my comfort zone, embrace the beauty of new beginnings, and deeply value the art of failure. For instance, starting a creative page on IG, finally building up the courage to call myself an artist, investing in myself, investing in my career, creating more YouTube videos, writing music rooted in scripture, interning for a church, and ministering beyond the church walls. All this time I was waiting for a sign to tell me when I should start my career but this season made me realize that I just need to take that leap of faith and start. The beauty is in the process.
Change is inevitable. Seasons change, people change, feeling change, but God remains the same. This song, "It Is So" by Elevation Worship is another song that I hold close to my heart. When I look back at 2020, this will be the song that I will always go back to
Even the worst of my mistakes are miracles in the making... You have spoken and I know that it is so
Countless times throughout the bible God re-affirms his love for us. He reassures us and even promises that as long as we continue to seek Him with our whole heart, He will meet us where we are. He loves us as He finds us. In every season, His purpose is unchanging, His love unwavering, His grace unceasing.
Now it's my turn to ask you the question:
What season of faith are you in?
Maybe you're in a fruitful season; maybe you're in a dry season; maybe you're also in a season of refinement and revival. No matter what season you're in I hope you remember and stand confident in the truth that God is right there with you. He's never left. He's never forsaken you. He's protecting you, even if you don't see it (Deuteronomy 3:16)
I am a firm believer that everything happens according to God's timing and we are where we need to be in this very moment. The hardships that we face in our lives are meant to build us up to our God-given potential (1 Peter 5:10) and to remind us that we can get through anything as long as we keep God at the center of our lives. Seasons like refinement and revival may be the hardest ones to go through, but I truly believe they are the most fruitful, as long as you don't give up on yourself and continuously seek God's kingdom (Galatians 6:9).
Pray. Pray. Pray.
I can't emphasize enough how important is it that you pray. If you don't know what to pray or can't find the right words, don't stop there, say the Lord's prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). Here pray it with me right now:
Our father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever,
Prayer is food for the soul. Feed your soul today and talk to God. Spend some time with Him in worship. Give him praise for the things that you do have right now. Give him praise for the beautiful things you see around you. Give him praise for the challenges you're facing right now that are making you stronger. Ask him to guide you, ask him to protect you, ask him to heal you. Trust me, it will make a difference.
In every season, praise God.
Cover art done by my very good friend, Katrina Monje! Check out her website: katrinamonje.com