How do you connect with God?
Wow, I connect with God so differently now compared to the past… so that’s a big question. My relationship with God has grown so much, but I think it actually became real to me in YWAM (Youth With a Mission). It was the first time I was taught topics like “Intro to Christianity”, and it really blew my mind. I grew up in the church, but I still remember thinking, “What have I been missing out on?” In that season even the simplest phrases hit me so hard. I’ll always remember one teacher saying, “God didn’t need to create us; He was already existing in perfect relationship and love. He wanted us - simply to love us.”
One huge area I’ve grown into is having the faith that I hear God’s voice. Just knowing that He speaks to me, it’s as simple as that. It’s just so powerful to sit there and hear Him; to know that He’s a God that speaks and He’s a God that listens. I would say that now I connect more on a level where I don’t feel so pressured to do something with God everyday. I’d like to be with God everyday, but that’s the difference - I want to! I miss it when I don’t. That’s changed a lot from what I was instilled with growing up; my daily bible reading was almost like a confirmation that I was still saved, or that I still loved Jesus. It was this religious task to check off. Now it’s just a continual conversation with God, rather than allotting a certain amount of time for Him and then carrying on with life. Of course, I get caught up and life gets busy. That’s when I really feel like I’m missing something. I have to remind myself, “God, you’re still a part of this too! You care just as much as I do about going to work today. You want to be involved and you want to be here, with me.”
What has He been revealing to your heart recently?
I think the biggest thing that has shifted in my heart is my ability to dream with God. I always knew him as a father and as a friend, but I didn’t dream for things. I didn’t have the ability to hear or discern the little inklings He put on my heart. Now, I feel like it happens all the time! I’m allowing myself to dream, and then I submit those dreams to Him. I’m learning to not be afraid of dreaming the wrong dream, or to dream too big or too small. I can just do it! And the best part is that God looks at my dreams and says, “Awesome.”
I’m constantly pondering a new word or a new dream with Him. This year I have had more time to think about things because I’m not constantly thinking about school anymore. It’s been so fun to get these little snippets of dreams. The moment I think of something new, I’ve started writing it down in my phone. I don’t necessarily know why yet, but I think there will be a bigger purpose for it. I have so many thoughts, ideas, and desires He’s put on my heart. He doesn’t want me to figure it all out now, but I know I’m supposed to start taking note of those things. They are things He’s put there for a reason!
Another thing that’s been happening lately is I’ve begun seeing the little different parts of life as really beautiful. The creative side of me has opened up more; the side that is able to appreciate beauty and to know beauty. I’m starting to not only see more of it, but to want to see more of it. It’s an interesting thing that happens for people, I think. When you start to receive God’s love, people physically see it in you; they see beauty. There was one summer I went to Maui on a UChurch mission trip, then I went to a Father Heart ‘A’ school, and a lot of prophetic things were being stirred up in my life. It was really a season of activation, where God was doing so much in my heart… And I was glowing! So many people commented on my demeanor in that season; I was so filled up! I couldn’t contain it. It was such a cool season. He is still doing that now, just in different ways. I have to keep reminding myself that the past happened as it did for a reason; I don’t want to expect the same thing that happened then to happen now. There’s more to come! There are more things that He is going to reveal to me now.
Where has God’s love brought freedom into your life?
Two big things that come to mind immediately are freedom from anxiety: this constant fear of what people were thinking of me. And then there was this fear of life itself. I’m only now realizing that I grew up very surrounded by anxiety; I was always very unsure and insecure. One of the things that triggered me was the first time I went to Portland. I was supposed to be doing school evangelism, and I hated it. I suddenly became anxious about all the decisions I needed to make in my life. I started down this anxious spiral; I was going on and on and on about things out of my control. Finally, my little sister stopped me. She said, “Bree, I can’t wait for the day when you aren’t so anxious about everything all the time.”
That blew me out of the water. I remember thinking, “That’s a day that can exist?!” That was my normal; so much so that I didn’t realize I could not live in it. I didn’t realize it wasn’t everyone else’s normal! After that conversation, there were some really pivotal moments that happened in my life. That was around the time Coach [John Rohrer] would come minister on campus, and he spoke some powerful prophetic words over me. Those moments allowed me to step into this place of knowing who I am and feeling confident in it, for the first time ever. I feel free to be myself now. “Free to be Bree” was kind of my personal mantra for a while. I’ve experienced this realization that who I am is awesome; God has created me to be amazing. Now I’m actually believing that, and actually able to live it out. That’s why I love to dance, for example. No matter what the setting is, I dance. Because I just feel so alive and so free in it!
The other part of my freedom relates to knowing that people want to be around me. I’m learning to trust that others enjoy my presence; simple things like that. I’m not constantly second-guessing who I am anymore. Relationships have always meant the world to me, so being able to walk into them boldly and confidently, as myself, is huge! I know I’m loved because I’m a daughter. Now, no matter if I get affirmation and validation or not, I am still loved and still free. Basically, I am free to walk out who I am. I’m learning that I do have a voice; there are things God has given me to share. Because I am such a talker, I’m an exhorter and I get passionate- at times that hasn’t been well received. Sometimes in the past I’ve felt stifled. Something God put in my heart recently is that I really want to speak. Not just to write things, but to speak them. Not just casually, like in conversation, but formally. So, I signed up for this Women Speakers Collective. We’ll see what comes of it, but the point is not being afraid to share for other people’s sake, just stepping out and doing it! You never know who’s listening or who will be touched by it. One person could, nobody could, or fifty people could… but it’s so powerful just being able to speak and share and not be afraid to let the things in my heart and my mind, out.
What do you feel like God is doing in our midst?
I think there’s a stabilizing that’s happening in UChurch; we’re just kind of growing into what is now. I’ve definitely struggled sometimes within this transition. I think sometimes we’ve isolated ourselves within community; we haven’t always done an excellent job at connecting. I think we’ve tried really hard to figure out what this “Father’s love” thing really is, and I think a lot of us had to go really inward for a really long time to sort it out. The part I wrestled with is this: how can something teaching the love of God disconnect us? I felt like that happened for a little bit. My question now is:
"How do we love others while still learning to be loved by Him?”
I think it’s just a dance of learning how to do it together. Just because we’re not perfect, I don’t think we’ll ever perfectly know it and then go try to love people. I honestly think we’ve got to figure out how to messily do it all together! That’s the beautiful thing about our family; there is a freedom to do just that. It just takes a couple people spearheading it; go try and do it, and maybe fail! But step out.
I also feel like I heard God say, “layering back.” I don’t even know what that fully means, to be honest. I think for me, my journey through UChurch has been interesting. I started off really plugged into all the things going on; there were a lot of student-geared events and groups and stuff. It was really purposeful and really amazing; honestly it all helped keep me connected. It immediately felt like a community and like a family; I was really welcomed in! Because of that season, the connections I made in church have gone so deep, and so beyond it just being a church. Now things have slowed down so much, it feels like the dust is settling. For a while things got kicked up – with all the shifts in hearts from the revelation of Father’s love – but now the dust is settling. Now you look around and see what’s left. That sounds kind of funny, but what’s left is the people who have the heart, the ones who know what God is saying to them and to the community. No matter how hard it’s been, or even if they don’t agree with all the shifts that have taken place, they are still there. There’s a reason for that! I don’t think we know specifically what it is yet, but there are snippets of it. I think, honestly, we’re all kind of waiting on God and leaning on each other to hear what that reason is. But I always know I have my UChurch family, outside of meeting together on a Sunday. We have that connection, because the dust has settled. We’ve seen who’s still around and in it to stay. Clearly we’re in this for a reason, and I want to work out that reason with them - with my family.