On a morning where I should have been up and off Instagram a lot earlier than I actually was, I finally got coffee and went back into my room to spend time being present with Jesus. I got out my guitar and started strumming. Praise God, Jesus is okay with my being rhythmically challenged, he still likes me and my guitar playing. I mumbled made up lyrics that paralleled with the inner workings of my heart, and then once I released all that, I continued to play but looked up around my half neatened room.
I have just arrived back in Redding from my Christmas break in Kansas. I see my guitar case, my skateboard I recently brought back (that I definitely don't know how to use...yet), my dainty, twinkling lighting around the room, fake plants, my gym bag, an array of different styles of clothes draped over my office chair.
Who am I?
Sometimes, I feel like there's three or four personalities in me. No, no, I actually do not have multiple personality disorder. But am I the "bro girl"? Am I the skater, street style girl (I've loved the style of skate shoes since 6th grade)? Am I the typical "white girl"? Am I a girly girl?
Being on the girl side of things, I've wrestled with this in my clothing choices. One day, I'll wear ripped jeans, Vans, a flat bill, and bomber jacket, while the next day I'm ready to wear a skirt, classy top, and a sharp looking cardigan that can make you feel like you're the CEO of your own business. Am I crazy for liking both? Why do I feel "flaky" in my personality for liking both? Should I just commit and choose one?
And being an ambivert- "Hannah, what the heck is an ambivert?" - an ambivert is the middle ground between an extrovert and an introvert, which is where I reside. Sometimes I am ready to be thrown into five different conferences at once, filled with people, other times I will do curbside pickup for restaurants because I don't want any "new people interactions". I can feel like two different people with this, do I need to lean more to one side?
Let's talk boxes. Home Depot. Post Office. Nah, not those. Social boxes. Boxes people put you in. Boxes you put yourself in. Don't you love 'em? So flashback to me strumming off beat on my guitar, looking at all the materials of the seemingly contrastive personalities I have.
Which person is Hannah Schrepfer? Which one am I?
I don't want to choose. I feel like I'm all of the aesthetics. I'm a "bro girl", but I also totally squeal with delight when the perfect dress matches the wedges I've wanted to wear. I lift weights and am super competitive, but when someone gives me flowers I'll melt. I want to learn how to skateboard, I'll prophesy/pray for/talk with/love people who smoke weed or cuss me out, I watch dumb Christmas Hallmarks, and I'll love Christians who think I'm going to Hell for my tattoos. I listen to secular and christian music. I want to be all of these things and not choose.
As I'm pondering this, strumming the guitar, it is as if someone gently grabbed my gut and turned it: conviction hit. How often have I put God in my own, handmade, neat, and rather small, box I made for him?
Lord, I am so sorry for trying to squeeze you inside that itty bitty box. You are a big God and don't belong there.
I forgive you, just because you wanted me to fit in the box, I didn't choose to minimize my size, character, being for your perspective/theology's comfort.
Then I pondered, how many times have I been puzzled, angry, discouraged, or disappointed in these moments where God did or didn't do something I thought he would or should. Many. But those expectations were all within the box I created for the Creator of the universe. He just operated outside of the box he was already too big for.
Exodus 20:4 - "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." (KJV) "You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea.5 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods." (NLT)
According to Merriam Webster, graven, is defined as...
1.) to carve or cut (something, such as letters or figures) into a hard surface : ENGRAVE
2.) to carve or shape with a chisel : SCULPTURE
3.) to impress or fix (a thought, a memory, etc.) deeply
In Exodus 20, the Lord is giving Moses the Ten Commandments. Words STRAIGHT from the Lord, himself. The above is the second commandment. Shall we look at the first one he said? The very first thing on God's mind?
Exodus 20:3 - “You must not have any other god but me."
Short. Sweet. To the point. Some may say Hannah, "I am a Christian and I can assure you I don't have statues of Buddha or anything in my house. There are no graven idols I possess." Can I submit a thought to us?
What if God is equally as concerned with the graven images we've made in our perspective of him?
If we have a false perspective of God, is it really God in the first place?
If we act on said perspective of God, are we really representing Jesus at all?
EXAMPLE If we build the identity of God in our minds (idol) off the scripture of Leviticus 19:28 (tattoos), but neglect the John 13:35 ("By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another"). All the sudden you have a Christian declaring God hates someone because of ink on their body, when really Jesus, who represents the full picture of the Father (John 10:30), says it's the clean inside of a person that makes the outside clean (Matthew 23:26-28). The person did not represent the biblical Jesus (the real one), but rather proclaimed and projected this false God (an idol they "impressed or fixed deeply" in their mind) thus promoting a false Gospel that they created.
This is why in this season of my life, I am so slow to write off experiences that people think are God. Hear me, I am not accepting all as God, like please no, not that, but I am discerning with Holy Spirit (the one who is orchestrating said experience anyways) and I am filtering it through scripture and the foundation of what God says about his own character. This is why our Bibles are important, people! The amount of times Holy Spirit has brought up a scripture to help me discern is unbelievable; we need to know our Bible. While at the same time, I'm seeing God whereas I had missed him before.
Proverbs 25:2 - "It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out."
Since September 2020, I have taken off the hypothetical taped square (box) on the ground that restricts my willingness to allow room for God's mystery, and become comfortable with admitting my unknowing about the fullness of God and how he moves. Since doing that, I actually feel more peace, like tons more! Do I still experience hardship? Absolutely. There's still dearly loved family members that lost lives to illness, and some who are currently in that battle. But embracing my ability to not understand all of God's ways and still knowing his character is forever unwavering and unchanging gives me a foundation to stand on. It's firm. Like a rock. Not going anywhere.
After taking this tape off the ground for God, I've had BLESSING after BLESSING happen. Did I do it for the blessings? Absolutely not. Truthfully, I didn't even know there would be blessings in the first place.
I've had a wad of cash supernaturally and without any help from housemates appear in my purse in addition to the cash I knew I already had in my wallet. This new amount that appeared was the exact amount of what I started with when I arrived to Redding.
I've had God use me to heal a beloved friend who was deaf in one ear. She now hears better in the healed ear.
God has healed me from past emotional wounds I didn't even know I had, but in his goodness he brought them up and told me we needed to process and walk through them.
He's taught me how to drop a performance mindset and work out of a state of rest. This is something I am still learning and walking in, I did not know work and rest could happen simultaneously, but I'm learning it AND THRIVING! And when I started being Jesus (praying for strangers, loving cashiers, sharing my testimony with people, etc.), out a state of rest, it was just unbelievable to see the difference in actual things shifting/happening in response. People were more receptive, I was less intimidated. People were hungrier (actually asking questions and wanting more information), I was eager rather than "dragging my feet to obey".
Where I used to hit walls and obstacles, it seems this rest I am now living out of BASHES down the hypothetical door. And I did nothing to cause it. (rest is just a lifestyle of intimacy with Jesus).
So, in the midst of my offbeat strumming and gently mumbled, lyrical heart cry, God gave me permission to take up the hypothetical taped box on my life.
I don't have to fit one mold. I was created not to. Culture and people will still try to put me in a box to understand me, and that's okay, they don't know. What's my Meyer Briggs? What's my enneagram? What's my strengths? What do I do? While these things can help initially in understanding certain traits about me, I am not all that is.
I am a pioneer. I have an adventurous spirit. I am a creature of habit that loves new experiences (yes, I know they're contradictory, but it's still true). I love spontaneity but THRIVE off of organization and details. I have a huge imagination and sometimes will live in what could be, but you can also hear me talking to myself and others saying, "well, the reality is that...". I am a "bro girl" that loves flowers and thoughtful words while simultaneously fangirling over lace, whilst wearing my Van hightops. I love music, but don't really understand it. I understand acting, but don't really do it. I write but don't really show it.
I am many things, and that's okay. My Creator doesn't live in a box, and I don't think he wants me to either.
So here's to 2021, and living box free. Join me in seeing what we can accomplish, create, and be, thinking and living out of the box.
You were meant to thrive.