It’s Past 1 AM, and I’m Overwhelmed – But Not in a Bad Way

It’s past 1 AM and I have an unfinished Research Synthesis paper due tomorrow at 11 AM. I’m sipping on half of a cup of cold coffee and have a Patagonia sweatshirt tied around my neck like a cape.

I’m sitting in the sunroom of my cottage, which can hardly be called a sunroom at 1 AM, because the only light shining in the window is that of a streetlight on 13th Street.

But all of that information is pretty much irrelevant to what I have to say next.

I can’t stop thinking about it. The concept of grace has been overwhelming me lately. I remember sitting by the lake in late April or early May of last year, not understanding what the dictionary definition of “unmerited favor” looks like as it plays out in real life. It was a concept I didn’t consciously understand, but I was living in it every day.

I understand now.

Grace looks like the lake. Grace looks like the sand. And it looks like every snowflake, every blade of grass, as many stars there are in the sky. We could never count its presence. There’s too much of it everywhere. We just live by it every day.

Grace feels like forgiving for forever, not just for today. It feels like anticipating the weird numb pain that comes from hitting your funny bone on the arm of a chair, but the pain never comes. We become too good at expecting to feel something – pain, anger, bitterness, suffering – but with grace, these emotions never come. Because grace enters every space with the capacity not to conceal it, but instead to heal it.

And that’s what’s crazy to me.

You know that kid in your group project who won’t do anything? Give him grace. Not because he “might be dealing with something drastically difficult in his life,” but instead because we’re given grace that we don’t deserve by a God who is more than willing and more than able. Grace doesn’t have a reason, it has a cause – and that cause is to heal brokenness in a way that our human minds cannot fathom.

Remember that ex-relationship you had in 10th grade? Give it grace. Break-ups are never easy. But, if you’re a college student, it’s probably over – way over – and there’s someone out there who’s waiting for you to fall in love with them. Maybe it’s a person, and maybe it’s Jesus (you have to decide that one).

Here’s the real deal. I’ve probably said this before, but even if I have, I’ll say it again: Grace is given, not earned. There is nothing we do and nothing that we don’t do that diminishes the grace that has been bestowed upon us. That’s why I’m so overwhelmed. Because every time I get mad at the way things turn out or if I become indifferent when things turn out for the best, God sees me in that. When I stop and say, “I’m sorry,” He sees me through that.

All about that Grace
My church at home knows what’s up 😉

I want to promise you something. Nothing that you have done or haven’t done changes the amount of grace available to you. It finds you exactly where you’re at. You don’t have to “get your act together” or “change your ways” prior to walking into its fullness. All you need is honesty in the places where you messed up and a willingness to let it go.

There is immeasurably more available than we could ever consume. That’s the beauty of it to me – all we have to do is be honest and say we messed up in return for a healing that changes us from the inside out.

Even with this Patagonia tied around my neck, I’m reminding myself I can’t be my own superhero. I can’t save myself from falling into the depths of being angry and bitter. That’s the power of grace. It comes from God’s love, which surpasses all understanding. We don’t have to understand it to live in it. And that’s a pretty awesome thing to think about.

Keep up with me @hopesophie17. Questions? Comments? Send me an email at P.S. try to go to sleep earlier than me.

2,014 is more than a number

I’m not a mathematician, but I can tell you, a number holds so much value.

When I think about the year 2014, I consider it to be so much more than a number. Looking back at the weeks and months in which I faced significant challenges, I can hear the echoes of my disappointment, anger, doubt, and fear. Breaking my foot over the summer was one of those times.

Then I turn my head and I see the love, faith, and hope poured out to me by the community I was surrounded with, by the times I put my trust in faith to find the journey set apart for me. Breaking my foot the second time is one of these times (in case you missed it, check out my post here).

I spent Christmas in Florida with my family, visiting my 91-year-old grandpa, who moved into a house on the Atlantic side this fall. We visited the beach on the 27th, and as my brother was body surfing in the waves, he called out to me while I was standing on the shore. I ran down to meet him. As my feet hit the water, I felt a wave of humility come over me. I was struck with wonder and radiant joy. At that moment, I remembered. By all worldly standards, my foot should still be broken. I should not be walking. I should be in my boot, on crutches, with a Ziploc securely zipped around it so that sand wouldn’t enter my shoe.

But I wasn’t.

I ran, and half expected to start running on the water rather than in it. One thought entered my mind: “Jesus, You’re beautiful. This is beautiful.” I heard a voice come back to me that whispered, “I know, I made it.” And I nodded, knowing that no matter how much depth I think I can grasp in my faith, even the ocean knows of a greater depth than I do.

I came across a quote at some point throughout this year, and it hit my heart in such a way that changed it from the inside out. The quote is “Grace is given, not earned.” If I could summarize my year in one word, it would be grace. It overflowed, over and over, and it found me even when I couldn’t find it. It was there when I stayed stuck, when I was broken, and when I couldn’t find peace, it was given to me. It was there when I rejoiced and laughed, feeling love being poured out to me. It was there when my faith was, and it was there when my faith wasn’t. And every time, it was there when I didn’t deserve it.

Ocean Waves
Let’s risk the ocean, there’s only grace [Sometimes by Passion Worship]

This year, I learned to forgive, because it’s easier to let go than it is to hold on. And when it’s over, when the storm is really over, you know, and you can leave it in grace and move forward, and let the blessings that come with it boomerang back into your heart. When you’re in the middle of it, when you can’t escape it, it’s hard. But when Peter asked Jesus if he should forgive his brother seven times when he sins against him, Jesus replied, “not seven, but seventy times seven” (that’s 490 times). That’s forgiving someone once a day, every day, sometimes more than once a day. Needless to say, that’s a lot. And Jesus probably wasn’t being literal there, either… he probably meant something more along the lines “seventy times seven times seventy times fourteen million.” God has probably forgiven me more times than that in my lifetime. It’s a lot more than I forgive. And that’s only for one person. Again, there’s so much more there than just a number.

As I leave 2014 and welcome in the new year, I wait with hope and expectation, knowing that crazy awesome plans await. Not on my own terms, but on God terms, which is even more exciting. I am filled with endurance when I think about all of the cool things that are about to happen, things I am currently unaware of. Because at the end of 2013, I would never have thought I’d be standing where I am today. And next December 31st, I’m looking forward to be able to say the same thing.

I hold onto a couple of Bible verses as I think about the new year, the first one from Habakkuk 1:5: “…For a work is being done in your days that you would not believe even if you were told.”

Also, this one from Isaiah 43:19: “See! I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do not you perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

No matter what this year held, this new year holds new promises not contingent on the missteps of the past. There is something new arising, and I am certain it will be more beautiful than anything we have ever seen before.

What’s one word to describe your 2014? Tweet it at me @hopesophie17. Questions or comments about anything at all can be directed toward

P.S. Hey prospective students and families, please let me know if I can help out in any way or answer any questions – I know this time in your life can be crazy and overwhelming, and I’ve love to answer any questions or direct you to someone who can answer them for you! Just shoot me an email (or, if you’re on Hope on Facebook, shoot me a message there, either way is totally fine with me!)