Upwardly Dependent » walking the delicate balance of absolute truth and overwhelming grace.

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If All I Had Was Jesus

In case you haven’t heard, I entered a contest.

And in case you haven’t heard, I had to drop out of the contest.

I opened the email the same morning the contest was posted. One woman would be chosen to travel to Rwanda, along with a handful of other Christian ladies I appreciate so much, to write about the women employed by one of my favorite fair-trade companies.


And smart, driven women.

Basically all of my passions wrapped into a one-week trip. And I was so close. My people voted their little pointer fingers off for a week and placed me at the top of the competition, and I was just so hopeful that I would be chosen.

But an email came through from an apologetic employee, informing me that I was not eligible to compete because I no longer live in the United States. {She was really sweet about it, promise.}

I read the email on the bus just before walking into four hours of language school. I challenge any of you to focus on swirly letters and guttural tones when you have just learned that the last week of your life was spent totally in vain.

On the way home, I bought a bottled Coke and drank my grief away as I walked the dirt road to my house. All the time beating myself up for being so hopeful.

What does a girl have to do to be noticed? I guess living internationally isn’t qualification enough to make an international trip? I guess studying community development for three years isn’t qualification enough to write about it? I guess adopting from Africa and reading about justice and trying to be stylish while doing it all isn’t qualification enough to hang with the elite women doing the same in America?

And WHOA the sin.

I told my husband the news as the runny mascara did what it does best.

It really was a pitiful site. Me. A wobbly kitchen table. Weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I wanted to curl into my bed, feel sorry for myself, and watch all 10 seasons of Friends. With a bag of M&Ms.

But, of course, AS IS EVERYONE’S NATURAL RESPONSE, I spent the afternoon flipping through the Good Book.

I was looking for comfort, true. But I was also expecting every bit of the rebuking I deserved.

Because yes, I was so hoping for an opportunity to tell the stories of Rwanda’s women.

But can I be shamefully honest and bear my soul to you?

I wanted this trip for me. I wanted to meet other women who would affirm my dreams. I wanted to prove to everyone that I AM WORTHY of my calling.

I am smart. And caring. And a writer. And everyone should read my blog and follow me on Instagram because doggonit I’m WORTHY!

And WHOA the sin. And He rebuked me.

“Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him.” 1 John 2:16 (MSG)

Humph. Ouch. Yes, Lord.


So the question of the day is, would I really be okay if all I had was Jesus?

Would I be okay without nice clothes? Without a comfortable house? Without a supportive social network?

A steady income? A strong marriage? A sweet kid?

Would I be ok if I didn’t even have a church family? A ministry? A calling?

When the arrogant perception of my own worth in Christ outweighs my acceptance of His grace, I have left no room for His sacrifice to mean a single solitary thing.

I’m staring at the cross, still tinged with His blood, saying, Thanks, Jesus. That was really nice of you. But you didn’t have to do THAT. I mean, look at all the things I can already do on my own! 

Self-righteousness. Pride. Conceit.

There’s no room for these things at the foot of the cross.

I NEED His blood to cover me again and again. And again and again and again.

I NEED His grace and favor and love.


Because this body will die. And my clothes with rot. And my status will be forgotten. But there’s nothing in Heaven or on Earth that can take away the power of my GOD.

He has overcome everything we’ve screwed up, run from, cried over, and conquered.

Francis Chan wrote once, If you could have Heaven with all of its promises, but Jesus wasn’t there, would you still want to go? 

And so many days my answer is yes. I like the pretty and the singing and the friends.

I could have a lot of fun in Heaven with those things. 

But when my answer is yes, good gracious I need some perspective. How easy it is to forget that I’ve been redeemed.

  tattoo bw


Our lives are not meant to prove to everyone how worthy we are. Our lives are meant to bring glory to the One who made it possible.

May we all be satisfied with or without, in sickness or in health, in success or in failure.

And may we all be able to proclaim, If all I had was Jesus, I would still have it ALL.



Ena ReavesMay 24, 2014 - 5:21 pm

Wow Lauren I think you are a fantastic writer and great things are coming your way. I loved your honesty… that’s what great writing reveals. I’m so proud you shared your story with me. I am encouraged!

Doris Ann Harris FittsMay 24, 2014 - 5:41 pm

Beautifully written <3

Lola-Margaret HallMay 24, 2014 - 7:36 pm

Lauren, please never forget that I (and I really believe all those who voted for you) voted because we thought you were deserving of this. Not only do you have the ability to share your heart, but you glorify Christ as you do it. Yes, you may be thinking that all you were doing it for was you. We all do that, and need to check our hearts, but in the end I don’t think you would have been thinking about the blonde bombshell, but about those who you would hope to help with what you could say. And God WOULD be glorified. He is each time you write, so why would I even think that opportunity would have been any different?

Tina HickmanMay 24, 2014 - 8:03 pm

I am disappointed too that you had to drop out :( I don’t really know why it matters where you live to qualify for this trip you are an American citizen (if that has anything to do with it). Anyway I think anyone would have felt the same disappointment and I really think you did want to go for all the right reasons-don’t be so hard on yourself! haha. But, your article does help us keep our lives in perspective-very good :). Before you know it another door will open just like Lisa said.

Shirley FreelandMay 25, 2014 - 2:18 am

You are great at expressing yourself!

Whitney ConardMay 26, 2014 - 2:01 pm

lauren, i really respect you for putting yourself out there in the contest…and for putting yourself out there in revealing your weakness and sin through your blog. because believe me, i have been (am) there myself, too. especially working overseas, i tend to swing between “pity me for my sacrifice!” to feeling entitled to wanting everyone to see how much i’ve given up and how awesome i am! but none of it matters. it’s only about Jesus.