When I think about my life, and all the steps that it’s taken to get me to where I am now, it’s been nothing short of a miracle. There were so many ups and downs –moments of pain, and moments of deep joy and peace. Lately, the Lord has asked me to reflect. To stop what I am begging Him for and see all that He has already done in my life.
So, I want to tell you some of the amazing things He has done and just how sweet He has been to me. And I pray, that through my hardships you may see the grace and hope of God.
Just a few years back, after I graduated high school in West Michigan, I began college at Western Michigan University. That’s where I surrendered my life to Jesus, as I fell to my knees on my dorm room floor. Jesus came through in ways I’d never even dreamt. He swept in and healed my broken heart from wounds in the past. He gave me so many loving friends to walk alongside of. I felt like I saw the world in a completely different way. I had a heart full of new dreams and passions that I didn’t even know were there. I started playing guitar, and doing art in my free time– and honestly had never even considered myself the creative type before. I was filled up everyday with so much encouragement through the gospel. I thought this was how life would be everyday for every Christian. I felt like I was on a cloud and nothing could touch me.
After my second year of college, God kept putting on my heart the word ‘home’. At first I didn’t know what it meant. But as I kept praying, the thing I feared most came to be what God was calling me to. He kept gentle nudging me, “Go home, Nikki.” And I was like, “…um, nope. How could I leave this ministry that completely changed my life? I’m doing great here at college, I don’t want to go back home. Back to the places of old, to the open old wounds and on top of all that, live with my parents again.” I wanted to obey but I was so afraid. I asked God to confirm it, and He had people come to me saying things like, “Nikki, every time I pray for you the word “home” comes to mind.” Or, “Have you ever thought about taking a year off college?” I couldn’t run from the confirmations as much as I tried.
So I did it. I moved home.
I got a job as a waitress, then a barista, and moved into my parent’s basement. It was really hard to go from independent living to living with my parents again. Not only that, but I felt like I was going nowhere in life. I felt alone and that’s when depression hit like none other. I didn’t know my purpose anymore; I was no longer on a cloud, no longer invincible. How could a loving God call me to a place of such pain and heartache? I didn’t understand why He would call me to be miserable. I remember so many days of working all day, then crying myself to sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, then doing it all over again. I couldn’t see what He was doing in my heart and relationships during that time.
Sometimes we need to go through and let God dig up the deep-rooted issues in our hearts. It’s painful, but the end result is always so worthwhile; it’s beautiful. Looking back on that time, I can see how He was showing me how to seek Him in the mundane, without a huge ministry surrounding me. He healed my relationship with my mom. He called me to wait on Him. And after year two, God started unfolding the next journey he was calling me to step into. After years of waiting, He came through in His timing.
Advertisements for a school out in Colorado kept coming up. It was super random but for some reason, it stuck out to me so much. I felt like the Lord was asking me to apply. It was an Art school. I never imagined I would ever go to art school. But Graphic Design had over the years become more and more of an interest. After a few times of talking myself out of it, I finally applied. The next day I got a call from the school and felt that it was right. Everything fell into place very quickly, and within two months I was out there. The day I was about to become homeless, I found a house to live in. A generous girl I was connected with welcomed me into her home and let me move in that day.
I remember having four dollars in my bank account after I paid my first month’s rent. I had no idea how I was going to make it. I had no friends out in Denver yet, and navigating life on my own was scary at first. I got a job in the first few days I was there, and things continued to line up. I knew I was in the right place.
As I look back on where I was at till now, I am truly amazed. God’s provision has been constant. He has sweetly provided everything I ever needed. Not once did I go hungry or without a bed. He has come through every time, even when it was last minute. I stand firm that whether you have four dollars or a million in your bank account, it doesn’t matter when you’re looking to Him.
The last 3 years in Denver have been amazing. I love the mountains and the outdoorsy people. I love the church I am plugged into. There have been really hard moments of wanting to throw in the towel and go home again. There have been moments when I didn’t think I could make one more day in school out here. Moments I felt that depression trying to come back into my life and steal my joy. But one resounding truth is so evident in my life: God has brought me to it. So He will get me through it.
When we remember the things of old, and all that he has done for us, it is so much easier to press on through the hard times. It takes patience, perseverance, and tenacity. Don’t think your struggle is for nothing, my friends. God WILL come through when you wait on Him. David in the bible seemed to be waiting on God a LOT. He often cried out to the Lord in waiting for breakthrough. He says in Psalms 27,
“I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.”
Just a few months back, I had heavy anxiety. I was so anxious about the future. Thankfully, God put Psalm 77 on my heart and in that moment it was exactly what I needed to hear.
“I cried out to God with my voice—And he gave ear to me; In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing…Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up his tender mercies? And I said, “This is my anguish; But I will remember the years of the right hand of the most high. I will remember the works of the Lord. Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds. Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among peoples. You have with Your arm, redeemed your people. “ (Psalm 77: 1-2, 9-14)
Wow. That scripture is humbling to me. It crazy how easy we can forget the works of the Lord. Just like the Israelites so quickly forgot that God PARTED the SEA for them, and began to worship other Gods. I too can so easily forget God’s miracles in my life and instead, worry about the future. Today, I pray that you reflect on what God has done for you and not on what he has not. It can be too easy for me to dwell on how school is hard and I want to give up. Or dwell on the fact that I’ve been a student for way too long. But then I remember he has shown me so much of myself being out here in Denver. I’ve been strengthened in areas of my heart I never even knew I needed. I’ve gotten through hard seasons of navigating life alone. God gets ALL the glory for that. If He brings you to it, He will get you through it.
Lord, thank you for all that you have done in my life. Your provision and grace is constant. I pray that you would show me all the ways you have so sweetly come through for me. Help me not to focus on all the things I want in the future, but on the task at hand. Thank you that you have called me to the journey that I am on for a reason. You care so deeply for the dreams you placed in my heart and I thank you that you desire good things over my life. Thank you for giving me this life. I pray that I would use all my days to glorify you. Thank you that you continuously help me to persevere through the hardships and rejoice in the things you’ve already done. In Jesus name, Amen.