Posts in hannah
onwards to the new year.

onwards-blog

photograph by haley sheffield. 2013 // 2012

This past year has been full. It has been a kind, sweet, sort of full. The occurrences amid it all have been numerous; holding abundantly more than what I could have ever thought or asked for. My heart has been cracked, stretched, and rebound. Sorrow lingered in joy’s midst and though there were many moments of weariness and brokenness, there was a gracious peace in the uncertainty of this year. “I don’t know” has been the answer to many of my questions and I’ve seen the sweetness in learning to trust and sing “It is well with my soul” and understanding how it will all be ok. It overwhelms me, thinking how much things can change but also remain constant and steady at the same time. I suppose it could be a year of paradoxes, with everything that's been entailed within these last twelve months. My perspective on life has changed. I’ve changed with the seasons.

I’ve grown to see how in the ache, the rawness, and the embracing of the inability to “do it all” there is no shame. How sorrows have shaped me, and for all the hurt and ache and death and grief there has been joy and love and life and grace moreover. How in the things that haven’t changed, there’s been growth. How coming out towards the end is far more different than what I thought in the beginning. How all I could truly ask for, is more and more grace; and that he’s given me enough. Enough for yesterday, enough for today, and enough for tomorrow. Far more than enough.

Observing, absorbing, wondering, questioning…I’ve learned more about myself all through it. What I want to be, and who I am. What I hold dear and learning not to take things all too personally. Seeing how rather than an istj, isfj (yay personality quizzes!!!) is perhaps a bit more accurate and that how at eighteen I feel like such a wannabe; there’s so much more to life and so much more to learn. Seeing how there is much joy in the insignificant and the simplicity. Seeing the obvious things are becoming moreso obvious. Becoming more and more aware of how life is so fleeting and how my longings are satisfied through His being and blood and work on the cross alone. How though my love often falters and fails, He still holds me fast. It’s all been a gracious uncertainty, this year, with much change and much of the same. In another year, who knows where I’ll be at. It’s frightening but wonderful all at the same time. May we never grow familiar with the grace and hope and love and life that’s been generously given and find rest and joy from the well dones and you’ve made its. may we move forward in the new year with much intention and a lower view of self as we bravely face the unknown; our comfort stemming in the knowledge that we are where we are meant to be and our boast being, “I need Him most”. i eagerly seek and await 2015. all that it holds.

Sincerely, Hannah

hannahHannah
thoughts on singleness

hannahforsbergsingleness2 I started writing and I rolled my eyes. Another single, Christian girl writing on singleness. in a coffee shop. typical. Yet, we all like to click those links, don’t we? If you came up to me one day to ask me how life was, how it really was, this is what i’d say: Life is full, busy. Jesus is still teaching me about my heart and my need for Him. Jesus is still teaching me a lot through singleness, and quite frankly, I didn’t think it would take this long to still be learning from it (hello, pride!).

disclaimer: this post is coming to you from a recently-turned-eighteen year old homeschooler currently immersed in nearly 30 hours of work a week, with one foot in high school, and the other in college. it’s also coming to you from the chick who’s never been in a relationship, never been kissed, never held hands with a boy, never had someone seem remotely interested in pursuing me. (i’ve had the occasional person look at me twice, ask my age, and perhaps initiate a conversation further than “how are you?”, but the only boy who ever seemed to “like” me back was one who couldn’t even look me in the eye.)

A kind, sweet lady I met up with asked me if I ever struggled with loneliness as a single person. I squirmed a little in my seat, nervously laughed/sighed “Ahh yes,” My heart ached. Who hasn’t? “but it’s okay. completely okay”. These past four/whatever years have been rough on my heart. aches, sorrows, and unanswered questions…and yet in the midst of that, I found the tender and faithful kindness of The Lord extravagantly woven in and as evident as ever. I’m seeing how the Lord is absolutely gentle and gracious in all of his dealings with me.

For so long, I whole-heartedly believed that what I needed was marriage. I was sure that marriage would be the thing to sanctify me, grow me, and satisfy me. And so often I would forget that Christ is indeed, “the deep, sweet well of Love”. My heart is so fickle. I started to try and find my worth and base my happiness on the hope and expectation of a some-day husband. Although I would never say that I deserved a husband, or that it was my right to become a wife, my heart would daily declare otherwise.

I frequently found myself questioning and doubting The Lord’s timing, His goodness, His faithfulness, and His sovereignty. Oh yes, with my head, I knew the perfection of His timing, the sweetness of His goodness, the richness of His faithfulness, and knew I could rest in His sovereignty, but sometimes, I think it takes a while bit longer for your heart to catch up to your head; it takes sometimes a bit longer to taste the truth. I found myself questioning His doing and His purpose. I forgot that I was the clay and that He was the potter (Is 45:9).

I often wondered if (and concluded that) I would remain single in 10 years. Anxiety described my days. I saw myself wishing life away, refusing to savor the present and the daily gifts of mercy in front of me, yearning and hoping for what was to come. I regularly lacked trust and patience and joy, wondering what I did to repel boys away, and what I was doing wrong- how that girl could get a boyfriend, and I couldn't? Was I simply not pretty enough or too quiet? Too obnoxious or not fun enough, perhaps? I tried manipulating situations, strategically trying to position myself in the best corner to talk to someone I was interested in, or staying a little longer with hopes one might talk to me. I’ve even asked others if they thought one might return some sort of affection. But that’s not what the Bible says. Jesus commands us to pick up our cross and follow Him (Matt 16:24), not cling to the fleeting joys and mundane things of this world, but to the cross, to Him. He commands to pray without ceasing (1 Thes 5:17). To not be anxious about tomorrow (Mat 6:25-34). To be rooted and grounded, loving others deeply, and sincerely (Eph 3:17, 1 Pet 1:22). To trust and to be glad for today (Ps 118: 24, Ps 62:8). To, in all things, give thanks (1 Thess 5:18) because He is sufficient and He is good. (Ps 145:9, 2 Cor 12:9) My desire for something good and God-given grew more than the desire for the King Himself. I clung and treasured the thought more than the One who saved my soul. I failed to count everything and all things as a joy and failed to ask for wisdom and grace in this area (Jas 1: 5-8). Wretched, wretched heart! And yet “He gives more grace”? (Jas 4:6)

I searched for fulfillment, and happiness, and yearned to feel wanted. My heart had to change. Surrender, and gratitude was the call. I dare not forget the advice married ladies would share with me (almost always word-for-word the same): “You have so much TIME, so much opportunity in front of you: to serve the church and those around you, to grow spiritually, to do all sorts of crazy things. Singleness is AWESOME! Just TRUST God and WAIT.Although those words were said with much love and sincerity, sometimes it felt like a slap in the face?But you’re alreaaaaady married!” were my thoughts.

But God saw it fit to slowly chip away at my heart, inclining it to seek those opportunities, to invest time in loving others and serving the church. Humility. My heart needed time to see how his “severe mercies”, as Elisabeth Elliot puts it, are indeed mercies all the same…to understand how his refusals are absolutely kind, right, and just; how I am where I am meant to be. To surrender my desires, my longings, and be broken. From my knees, cry out, “Lord, yet not as I will, but as You will”. To see that, yes, what is certain is this: that He is very very good, far sweeter than all the rest. Far sweeter than the fleeting, earthy joys (Ps 34:8).

I became even more aware of the sovereignty of God (Ps 115:3, Prv 16:9, Prv 19:21)…that I am not single because I refuse to follow the trends of the Christian, homeschooled community, or that my standards are too high, or that I’m not serving enough, or that I’m too quirky, or that perhaps I’m not pretty enough…I am not single because I’m just not content/trusting enough or because I’m not doing XYZ or perhaps because I am doing XYZ. I’m not single because I’m doing something right or wrong. I am single because it has been sovereignly ordained before the beginning of time by God Himself that this shall be my current state, right now. I am single because “with mercy and with judgment, my web of time He wove”. and therefore, I must rejoice in thanksgiving and praise. And yet, I dare question and doubt Him, wondering and fretting about the mundane in comparison to eternity. i forget that if cares for the sparrows and the lilies and can number the stars and remember how many hairs are on my head, surely He cares for my heart and soul all the more (Mat 6:25-34, Lk 12:7)? This good, God-given desire for love had become twisted. twisted into an idol.

I think, how often words of comfort are similar to, “I know God is just preparing you for that guy,” or “God will give you a husband once you really give your heart to Him” or if-then statements as if God needs me to do something, then in return I will get my heart’s desire for marriage. While there are hearts of kindness and aspects of truth in those words, it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because, never does the Lord promise to give me all that I ask for. The Lord never guarantees me a husband. He may just have given me this desire with the intent of leaving it unfulfilled. And He would absolutely right, kind, and just in doing so because “aye, the dews of sorrow are lustered with His love”. Girls need not words of sympathy and comfort and empty promises, but words of truth and encouragement. We need words pointing out the deficiencies of our love for the Gospel and the hope we claim to believe yet fail to embrace. We need others’ pointing out our need for absolute satisfaction in the Gospel, in Christ, no matter the state because Christ is worthy of our trust. Allowing the motivations and hopes of the one-day husband shape the way we live life is dangerous. This is not to negate that sometimes the Lord, out of his kindness and grace, grants desires, but sometimes, He doesn’t. The Lord answers “yes”, “not now”, or “no”, and we should not try to answer for Him.

I find striking, how easy it is to presume that I indeed deserve a husband after shabby attempts to justify it with all my worldly accomplishments or with how “spiritual” I supposedly am. I find it easy to fall to the assumption that someone is being prepared just for me…that he’s “out there”, and I deserve Him. This is far from the truth. I deserve judgment, as a result of my hell-bound race. I don’t deserve yesterday, today, or even tomorrow. I don’t deserve forgiveness or grace or mercy, and yet, Jesus extended that to me through His death on the cross. He saved my soul. He saved my soul. And still, I fail to remember that He is enough. I fail to remember that all things work out according to his purpose, for my good (Rm 8:28). Contentment doesn’t come overnight; despite my wishing it would. But with a lack of contentment in this season, how would there be contentment in the next?

So, here i am, in a coffee shop, still very, very single, following the stereotype of the Christian girl in a coffee shop who blogs (I don't even like coffee). I’m still learning much. I’m learning contentment and comfort in Christ’s being, and to give thanks in this season, realizing that He alone will satisfy my longings. I’m learning much about humility and my great need for Him. I’m seeing fuller how it is no mistake that I am where I am meant to be in the midst of this uncertainty and flood of questions, because of His sovereignty over every detail of my life. I see how Jesus is undeniably using my current state for my good, and His glory, according to His own good pleasure, to bring me closer to Himself. And, although some nights my heart sighs, I’m finding richness and the joy, too, because His faithfulness abounds. I’m certain of His dealings with His children being always tender and gracious and kind. I’m certain that He who began the good work will carry it onto completion (Phil 1:6). The Lord in His mercy, forgave us of much. Should that not that be enough?

this season

photo Hello, hello. Forgive the sporadical-ness(?) & extreme vague-ness of my writings on this space, would you? There’s not much to say (online or to anyone for that matter), quite frankly, except that this season is very full. Late nights walking around on campus. The twenty-minute power naps between study sessions(which work wonderfully, by the way). Counting down the hours until the next break. Routine. It’s awfully familiar; those are my days.

Writing has occurred more often in my tattered moleskine, documenting the wonderings and uncertainty…the questions and hopes. The things I dared not to dream. I’ve noticed how there’s a deeper chill to the mornings and an rising difficulty in getting out of bed. People are busier nowadays and there’s an increasing list of to-do’s. There’s almost a sense of urgency to get going and forget to bask in the sweet times and simple joys. I walk entirely too quickly and have my head down rather than taking time to amble, observing and breathing everything in. I wonder if when I look back on this first semester if all I’ll be able to remember is weariness? I suppose I might.

I am confused about this season. I’m confused about feeling lonely and confused if my time is being spent well, away from almost everything I knew last year. I'm confused about being vulnerable and opening up to people or if I'm simply setting myself up for more hurt and heartache. I see only what is happening now and have no idea what to expect, or what not expect. It scares me, uncertainty. But, I think that’s what I’m seeing the most about this season, to live clinging to the One I cannot see. To seek rest and comfort in knowing Him alone. To learn and experience joy knowing that this is where I’m meant to be & each season serves its purpose. He does what He sees fit. I'm grateful.

from the journal:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 — 11:06PM:

I turned 18 today. Autumn rolled in officially with its crisper air and nights that call for cuffed-sleeve sweatshirts. I celebrated by going to work, like I usually do on Tuesday mornings. I'm legally allowed to press a start button on a machine (which I'm psyched about). Came home, played the piano for a good hour or two and wrote a few papers for classes. A friend came to my door with a handful of sunflowers (I've never gotten flowers before) and a hearty hug. I went to a tatoo shop to get my ears pierced and have the ugliest thing in my ear now. Barbecue from the local shop (the best) for dinner and double chocolatey chip bunt cake with homemade ghiradelli dark chocolate frosting glazed over the original frosting as dessert. I blew out my candles and didn't make a wish. I never really know what to wish for anyways. I had a small party with loved ones and got everything I wanted: a new Bible, fresh flowers, and a pint of Ben & Jerry's. I am a fan of simple birthdays and a fan of being 18. My heart is full.

23, hannahHannah
18 >> Trying not to get too sappy.

17 was hard and not all bells and whistles. Full of disappointments, doubts, and heartache. But in the midst of those days, I saw grace and joy woven so tenderly in. Seventeen was a year of seeking, for sure. I wouldn’t have wished for it any other way. In more ways than one, I grew. Life overwhelmed me and I found myself broken. I saw opportunity and had new experiences thrown at me. I felt growing pains (and a lot of them!) and found joyful rest. I realized often how I grew far too familiar with the gospel that I claimed to cling to and how quick to forget I was. I realized too, how quick God was to remind me, “My grace is sufficient for you”.

I think a lot of seventeen had apathy and anger sprinkled in— a lot of hurt. I found quickly how weary I became and how much rest I needed. I saw how I struggled with stewarding my time well and the lack of being home with the ones I claimed to love the most. I learned what it meant to slow down and be. I found comfort through playing gospel hymns and the Psalms and praying that I would pray more often, “Yet not as I will, but as You will, Lord”. My heart is so very fickle.

I found myself saying “i’m sorry” more often than I can count, and using the phrase “will you forgive me?” more than I ever had before. In the time where I was given the space to be angry and overwhelmed and hurt, love had also been there with open arms. More than frequently, I’ve been a rotten daughter/sister/friend/whatever, but kindness and mercy served as my retort.

This past year the gospel has been so evident and the faithfulness of Jesus has never been clearer. Jesus never forsook. I found myself realizing more and more how unworthy I am and how humbling it is to be in the presence of the King. I grew to love more and more the One who redeemed my soul and who kindly draws me back to himself o’er and o’er. I became more aware of a God who is sufficient, steadfast and kind...More aware of how tenderly He deals with His children and how unworthy I am to be called His own.

I’m grateful for growth and this new chapter that’s at my door. I’m learning contentment and humility and seeing fuller every day how my life is a testimony of the question, “Lord, why was I a guest? (see the hymn, How Sweet and Aweful is the Place)”. I’m so very thankful for life and that His grace abounds all the more.

If you’re reading this, thank you. It blows my mind that people want to know what I have to say. seriously. but God is so kind and these past 17 years have been wonderfully sweet and good. I’m psyched about what will come and what will be learnt in this next season and also grateful. I really have no clue where I’m going (circles?) or what might happen, but I'm seeing that’s okay in every way and really a blessing. Here’s to eighteen, dear friends. Excuse me, while I go crazy and buy+eat myself 5 cakes and justify that because I suppose I’m an adult now. happy birthday man! #181818cakecakecake #adult

18bday

23, hannahHannah