You’re Calling Me as I Am to New Wine

Have you ever read the Psalms or Ecclesiastes? What about Job? Have you paid attention to the words Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane? I don’t know that we’ll ever see anything more honest or raw than these words. That is unless we’re brave enough to be as honest and raw with our own prayers. For some reason, there’s a common misbelief among believers that we can’t be honest with God or each other. We can’t share our real feelings. Our hard feelings. Our questions and our doubts. Ask any Christian leader or figure if they’ve ever hidden their feelings from God and others. They will admit they have. I know because every true Christian leader I’ve ever followed has shared the same story. At times in our lives, we’re afraid to be honest. We’re afraid to share our feelings, questions, and doubts. Why is that? Why do we have this impulsive need to answer, “I’m blessed and highly favored” when asked how we’re doing? When the truth is we don’t feel blessed and we certainly don’t feel favored? We’re human. We don’t like being vulnerable and transparent. It leaves us feeling exposed and open to attack, criticism, abandonment, you name it… but what if we stopped fearing the vulnerable and transparent? What if instead of being afraid, we were hopeful? What if we were honest and real and believed that we would be loved and accepted and held in that? I think… no. I know we’d all be better off for it. Think about it. David is a man after God’s own heart. Solomon is the wisest man. Job is known for His extreme faith even in extreme loss. Jesus is Jesus. Perfect and without sin. God Himself sent to earth to save us.

You might be thinking, “Come on Brittany, those people are thousands of years dead. And are we even sure their stories are true? What if it’s all a story and not history?” That’s fair. I’ll allow your doubt and skepticism here and counter you with a modern and personal example. Let me warn you first. If you don’t actually want an answer to your prayers, then don’t pray. Because like it or not, God will answer. When He does it’s up to you to respond or not.
About a month or two ago, I felt God asking me to do something I wouldn’t have chosen to do myself. So, I was honest with Him. “I don’t want to do this. If you want me to, I’m gonna need you to have someone directly ask me about it. I’ll take that as Your sign.” A week or more later, someone directly asked me about it. So, now I’m doing the thing.
A few weeks ago, I wrote out several pages worth of frustration into my journal. I was brutal and honest and raw. I did not hold back. I felt like I was doing all the talking and all the work, while God sat back and watched. He was providing, don’t get me wrong, and I told Him I was grateful for it. That was and is true. Still, I felt like God kept asking me to do the big things that required a lot out of me, but was doing the bare minimum on His end. I journaled about this for a couple of days. I know God is a good God. I know He loves me and provides for me. I also know He doesn’t have to do what I want Him to do. I know that His way is always better than my way. That said, I have trust issues. And sometimes I find it hard to believe God wants to bless me when I’ve spent the past several years not knowing if or when or how my daily needs would be met. I know He loves me. I know He always provides. I know that over and over again the Bible calls us to worry about today’s provision today and worry about tomorrow tomorrow. It would be nice to have some cushion though. It’d be nice to know if something happens tomorrow, then I’ll be covered. I understand I have it a lot better than most of the world does. I know I am blessed. And I know that if He wanted to, then God could provide more for me, but He hasn’t. And sometimes I feel like He doesn’t want to. Sometimes I feel like He cares, but not as much on this side of Heaven as He does in Heaven. Does that make any sense at all?
I journaled all these feelings out and got super specific. I was honest and raw and real. Over the next several days, God answered my prayers. I didn’t know it then, but it started on Sunday when the pastor asked our worship leader to sing a song she wrote called “You’re Calling Me.” At first, I liked it because I like our worship leader and have yet to dislike anything she sings, especially if she wrote it. But then she (Shelby, who doubles as my best friend) and I were talking to some friends at church about “plan B’s.” I said I didn’t have one and I was fine with that. She reminded me I have a CDL, so bus driving is technically my Plan B. I responded with an emphatic, “NO!” to that. It’s never been my plan to go back to bus driving after leaving in summer 2020. God likes to laugh in the face of our plans, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Most mornings, I go to YouTube and watch/listen to the saved recording of our worship service from the week. Every day I was listening to Shelby sing “You’re Calling Me.” On Friday, it was stuck in my head and I was struck by a line that says, “You can do whatever you want to do. Whatever it is I’ll do whatever you ask me to.” That got some good journaling out of me because I was singing it, but I wasn’t sure if I meant it.
A little while later, a song by FM Static called, “Take Me As I Am” played over my shuffled liked songs on Spotify. I was struck by the lines, “I was too scared to start now I’m too scared to let go.” Could that be for me? Am I too scared to start now but will one day never want to let go?
Later that same day, a third song struck me. “New Wine” by Hillsong popped into my head. So, I listened to it and was caught by the line, “When I trust You I don’t need to understand.” ’nuff said.
Y’all, when I say God had me journaling my heart out for days after this, I mean it! It’s like I couldn’t stop. I was still caught on the feelings I’d had before, but I was also struck by a new faith and a new trust. I’m not made over yet, but I’m being made over and I have further proof of it.
Remember how I said I wasn’t planning to bus drive ever again? And how God laughs at our plans? And how if you don’t actually want the answer, then don’t pray, because He will answer? Yeah… well… I’ve been driving for UberEats and DoorDash for a few years now. In the summer, I took it on as my only source of income. I was loving it. Then, for the fifteenth time that day and at least the fiftieth time that week, I drove past a school bus on Tuesday. It was a little over a week after my emphatic “NO!” to bus driving being my “plan B.” Surprise, Surprise. God used this bus to say, “That’s the answer to your prayers.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. He didn’t answer. I knew. “Aww, man… Okay…” So, I finished the delivery I was on and went straight to the bus station.
I grumbled the whole way there. “If You want me to do this, You’re gonna have to make it abundantly clear,” I prayed.
And guess what. HE DID. I went in and no less than five people asked if I was coming back. The station manager offered me the station computer to apply immediately. The hiring manager told them to interview me on the spot. I was hired the next day, went through the hiring process the next few days, and started the very next workday. It was the fastest process I’ve ever experienced. Even the station manager was surprised it happened so quickly. God made it abundantly clear He wanted me to work there again. He made it abundantly clear He is in the business of answering prayer and providing in big and insane ways.
So, why did I share all this? Why have I written yet another insanely long blog post that maybe no one will read? Because I care about you! Because I want you to know you’re not alone. I want you to know that no matter how long we’ve been in church (my whole life) and saved (since I was six) we all wonder and question and doubt. We all ask God for another way. We all ask if He’s even listening. Seriously, read the Psalms. David was a man after God’s own heart and asked quite a few times, “Why are you ignoring me? Why aren’t you listening?” God doesn’t ignore us. And He always listens. He always provides and He always answers. We have to listen and we have to respond even when we don’t want to. Even today God wants us to be honest with Him. He wants us to run to Him and cling to Him and face our fears and worries head-on. He’s willing to hold our feelings, answer questions, and even provide signs of what He wants from us. Three songs and a school bus told me He was listening and providing. What is it He’s using to speak to you? Are you listening? Do you need a sign? God is willing to prove Himself, especially when you’re honest. Thomas doubted Jesus was Jesus, so He let him touch His wounds. A father in the Gospels admitted, “I believe. Help me with my unbelief” and Jesus healed the man’s son as a sign the father’s faith wasn’t in the wrong place. Be open. Be honest. Be real. Be raw. God is big. Bigger than you’ll ever know. He can handle your feelings. He can handle your honesty. He is listening and answering every day!

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you need anything! Like seriously. I’m here for you!

Find me on Twitter and Instagram @ogbrittanyalex

Find my podcasts “The Mask; Her Aid” and “Obsessive Girl Podcast.”

You can also buy my book “The Mask; Her Aid” by Brittany Alexandria on Amazon for Kindle.


Lent, the Wilderness, and a Global Pandemic

In 2020, I participated in Lent for what I remember to be the first time in my life. I always thought Lent was a Catholic holiday and since I’m not Catholic, I didn’t care about it. When I learned it wasn’t exclusive to Catholics, I thought it was about giving things up and I didn’t want to do that. Last year, on Annie F. Downs‘ podcast, That Sounds Fun, the She Reads Truth (and He Reads Truth) ladies taught me what Lent is and isn’t. Lent is a liturgical (sort of a fancy word for religious or Christian) holiday. It is not a Biblically mandated holiday. Lent is about focusing on Jesus and what He did for us on the cross. It is not about giving something up for the sake of giving something up. Lent is a private and personal humbling of self and the acknowledgment that we are sinful and broken without God. Lent is not a public statement to show how great we are for “humbly” giving something up for Christs’ sake. Lent is an acknowledgment that Christ’s death made us pure, holy, and forgiven. That in dying for us He gave us grace and mercy, saving us from an eternal death that we all deserve. It is not an act of earning salvation. We can’t earn salvation. Salvation is a gift, with no strings attached, given to us by God and God alone and that is what Lent is observing. It is a remembrance that we are fallen, broken, and in desperate need of a Savior. My pastor’s brother is also a pastor. His church regularly acknowledges that we are “badly broken and deeply loved.” In turn, my pastor reminds us of that specific phrasing pretty often too. In essence, that is what we are observing in the days of Lent. We’re remembering Romans 5:8, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and goes 46 days until Easter/Resurrection Sunday. We model it from the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness after His baptism and before He was tempted. I could go into the ins and outs of the traditional observance of Lent, but I’m not going to. Partly, because I’m new to Lent. Mostly, because I believe Lent is personal and private. Instead, I’ll remind you of what Jesus did in the wilderness. Jesus fasted. He abstained from all the luxuries of life. I’m not sure what luxuries looked like during His lifetime, but I know He gave them up for forty days in the wilderness. Why? To grow closer to the Father. In His physical weakness, He became spiritually strong through prayer and Bible study. Then, when Satan attacked with fiery arrows of temptation, Jesus was ready with a shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit. And that is what Lent is all about. It’s prayer, Bible study, and becoming more like Jesus, because our battle is not physical, it is spiritual, mental, and emotional.

When I decided to observe Lent for the first time in 2020, it was February 26 and life was still normal. I had no idea what the year would be like. All I knew was that I needed to be closer to God. So, I gave up a few things, including secular music, movies, and TV shows. For as long as I can remember, music, movies, and TV have brought me comfort. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, because we all have things we enjoy. I do think there’s something wrong with giving all your free time to such things. And that’s what I had been starting to do again. It wasn’t the first time I’d abstained from secular entertainment and it probably won’t be the last. This time it was different though. This time we had about two weeks left before facing a national and global shutdown. This time I was about to go into three consecutive months of not having much to do and rarely leaving my room.

Normally, I would’ve been thrilled to stay home for 3 months. I’m an introvert with social anxiety. I thrive when I get to be alone all the time. And, in the end, I did thrive on personal level in 2020, but not in the beginning. In the beginning, I was so not thrilled. I was only 2 weeks into a 6 week “fast” from secular music, movies, and TV. What was I supposed to do with myself if I couldn’t be entertained in ways I usually would be? If I’m being honest, I was a little mad at God. Mostly I was annoyed, but I was a little mad too. How was I supposed to survive a global pandemic without my usual means of escape? And therein lay my problem. Instead of running to God in a global emergency, I was complaining about giving something up. I even said or thought many times, “If I had known this, I wouldn’t have given that up.” Yikes. That is a sure sign that I had given the right things up for Lent. I was mourning the loss of something I wanted to run to instead of running to Whom I should’ve run to. God was the only One who was prepared for the pandemic and I was still struggling to run to Him. Though it was hard in the beginning, I am now thrilled I gave up secular entertainment right before I’d “need” it most.

There isn’t anything wrong with secular entertainment in and of itself. In fact, God teaches me more often through my favorite shows, movies, and music than anything else. I believe if I had said, “You know what? I’ll do Lent next year. This year I need to be entertained,” then I would’ve been okay. As earlier stated, Lent is not a God-ordained holiday. It is a manmade holiday that observes God’s goodness and our sin. However, I do believe we are most healthy when we take times to abstain from things that aren’t inherently Christian. I also believe had I changed my mind about Lent, then I would’ve missed out on some major blessings. I might’ve even suffered through the year.

I had been watching The Vampire Diaries when I started Lent. If I had been watching that at the beginning of the pandemic instead of abstaining, I don’t think I would have started my own daily journaling habits. If I had been listening to secular music when it all started, I don’t think I would’ve built the habit of starting and ending each day with Scripture and worship music. If I had been binging anything at the beginning of the pandemic, I don’t think I would’ve started a study of the Gospels and Acts which I’m still doing almost a year later. And if I hadn’t started daily journaling, morning and evening worship time, and my study of the Gospels and Acts, I think 2020 would’ve crushed me. I do think part of what prepared me for 2020 was the practice of Sabbath and pausing (literal quiet time throughout the day) that I started in 2019. But more than anything, I think what prepared me for giving up so much in 2020 was that I’d already told God I was willing to give and get my comfort to and from Him. Otherwise, I genuinely believe I would’ve gone down a dark path in 2020 and I’m not sure I would’ve been able to get out of it. Because I’ve faced hard times in the past and I didn’t handle them well until I learned to humble myself before God and draw closer to Him.

So, in 2021, I highly suggest you consider observing Lent if you don’t already plan to do so. If you choose not to observe Lent, I still highly recommend you evaluate your life and figure out what’s out of alignment. You’re human and therefore imperfect which pretty much means there’s always something in your life that’s out of alignment with God. So, what is it for you? What can you give up for Lent? What can you take in for Lent? What can you give to the Lord as a gesture of saying, “All I need is You, God.” What is causing you to stumble? What are you placing a little or a lot too close to God’s presence in your life? The commandment to “have no other gods before Me” means your love for anything other than God should look like hatred in comparison. Are you running to something other than God for comfort? It might be time to let that thing go, maybe forever or maybe temporarily.

At the end of the lockdown in Texas, when we started to open back up again, I opted not to go back to church right away. Part of it was because wearing a mask for longer than a few minutes gave me anxiety (I’ve gotten used to it now). Mostly, I knew I let the building and body of church–what feels most like home and family to me–get a little too close to God in my life. I had to get right with God and say, “I’m grateful for the gift you’ve given me by way of my church building and church family. I am more grateful for you, the Giver. You are God and You are my comfort, strength, and treasure. Nothing in my life matters compared to You. Not my people. Not my home. Not my comfort.” When I knew God was in the right place in my life, I was able to go back to church–a month after physical services started–and it was all the more special. And that’s what Lent is all about. We give something up, sometimes even things that are mostly or fully good for us, and we draw closer to God. When we give things up for God, whether temporarily or permanently–He’s going to give us something so much better. I fully and completely believe that, even if we don’t always feel or see it.

Remember, Lent isn’t about rules and it isn’t a Biblical ordinance. You don’t have to observe it and there are no rules. You don’t necessarily have to give anything up. You might need to start something. I believe Lent is personal and private, especially before and during the observance. So, I won’t tell you what I’m doing this year, at least not now. I will say for me Lent 2021 is more about adding spiritual practices to my life than taking other practices out. We gave up a lot in 2020 and a lot of us picked up a lot of healthy practices. Maybe you can’t think of something to give up. Or maybe you can’t do it with a willing heart. That’s okay. Listen to the Holy Spirit and He will guide you. There are many ways to observe Lent, but the core purpose remains the same. We remember that we are sinful and broken and that without Jesus’ perfect life and brutal death we would be hopeless. For more encouragement from someone far more experienced in Lent than I am check out this year’s episode of That Sounds Fun with the She Reads Truth ladies.

A final note: The purpose of Lent is to remember and prepare for the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Fridays can be seen as weekly observations of Good Friday. Sundays can be seen as weekly celebrations of the resurrection. Some people choose to fast or abstain Monday through Saturday and feast/break their fast or abstinence on Sundays. Remember, this is a manmade holiday. Let the Spirit guide you in how you should or shouldn’t observe Lent.

Disclaimer: I’m new to Lent and I’m not catholic or orthodox. Actually, I’m nondenominational. So, I’m not necessarily writing to those who observe Lent in a traditional sense. Instead, I am talking to all Christians of any denomination who want to find new ways to strengthen their faith. And I believe observing Lent is great way to do that.

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you need anything! Like seriously. I’m here for you!

Find me on Twitter and Instagram – @ogbrittanyalex

Find my podcasts “The Mask; Her Aid” and “Obsessive Girl Podcast.”

You can also buy my book “The Mask; Her Aid” by Brittany Alexandria on Amazon for Kindle.

Irrational Fear

Irrational Fear – Unreasonable Fear

Panic – Sudden Unreasonable terror

Technically speaking, I’m not afraid of heights. As a child, I was known to climb as high as I possibly could in any tree the adults around me would let me climb. Sometimes, my brother, sister, and I would climb to the top of our roof or treehouse and try to jump off without getting caught. So, no, I’m not afraid of heights. I am, however, afraid of falling or more specifically failing. I can’t go on rollercoasters because I’m afraid I’ll fall to my death. And sometimes, I can’t even climb stairs without a sudden panic overwhelming me for fear that I’ll manage to fall and hurt/kill myself. It’s irrational. I know. But as with my arachnophobia the logic of knowing it COULD happen is often far more convincing than the logic of knowing the odds of the bad thing not happening are in my favor.

I stood at the top of this 3-story rickety staircase for what felt like 5 minutes trying to slow my breathing and calm down enough to go back down the steps I had just climbed up. I wish I could say this doesn’t happen often, but it does. This happens all the time, not always with staircases, but often with life in general. I’m irrationally afraid of falling and failing. I regularly experience moments of rapid heartbeats & shallow breathing because of an irrational anxiety I can’t seem to shake.

Are you like this? Do you have irrational fears? It’s okay. You’ll get through it. Take a deep breath and remember 2 Timothy 1:7. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”‬ ‭(NIV)‬‬