Years ago, a lot of the things that were happening in my life that I cared about happened at night. Partying, going out, sneaking around, late night conversations. All of my desires were based on whatever I thought was fun and that became the center of my lifestyle. But those same things also brought me the most anxiety. I was living significant parts of my life literally in the darkness and my soul was in the dark as a result. Every other area of my life felt it too, whether I admitted it or not. I genuinely was sold on everything that culture and media told me – what I should do with my time, what I should look like, what it meant to be successful based on what others thought about me. I saw anything that went against that as boring and lame. I was willing to give up anything having to do with my faith to experience this way of life that I was convinced was better.
“For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light” (Ephesians 5:8)
The freedom, joy, and lightness that I feel now, even when I’m walking through harder seasons, can only be explained by the Holy Spirit in me. The only way to describe my life is that it has been completely transformed by Jesus and it will forever be my greatest joy to talk about who He is.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
You may love God or you may not really know who God is. If that’s you, just know that He loves you and He’s pursuing you, you can know that just by the fact that you’re reading this article. Years ago, He sent His son to die in our place as the ultimate sacrifice for the brokenness that’s so present in our world and so opposite of how He intended it to be when he created it. He lived radically and counter-culturally, not by saying all of the right things and being church-y. But by being bold, listening well, loving the very least of these on earth, not choosing to be around the most put together. And most importantly, when he left his time here on earth, He was raised from the dead and promised that one day we’ll get to live with Him and there will be a whole new earth that is absolutely perfect just as he originally designed it to be. (Romans 5:8)
So this life isn’t it. There is so much more purpose than just our 24 hour routines and habits that make up our lives. Actually letting that sink in is like letting light flood in.
CS Lewis said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.
If you feel stuck between knowing there has to be more, yet constantly wanting to give into your desires, and not knowing which is the way to actual full, abundant life, this is for you. Here are some things that I’ve learned:
1. Pray for changed desires.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
In college, I prayed consistently and specifically for changed desires, that I would actually desire whatever was true and good. He changed my desires and I watched my relationships deepen and change with them. The peace I felt translated to all of the other areas of my life. My definition of fun changed. Experiencing an unwavering security and having deep relationships was fun. Having a purpose that was so much bigger than myself was fun. I think it’s funny that now the most significant and meaningful parts of my life happen literally in the light— yes I still love doing fun things at night obviously—but the parts that I care most about happen in the daylight. Mountain weekends, long walks with my husband AJ, dinners with my best friends, leading high school ministry on Mondays after work, painting in my art studio down the street, helping my friend with her nonprofit that fulfills the dreams of youth who have aged out of the foster care system. The life I’m living on mission is just better in every way.
“but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. … Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
2. Become friends with people who life you up and challenge you and your faith.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
These friendships changed my life. One of my best friends Sellers was the one who first told me that she had prayed for changed desires and saw that transform her life. I never would have prayed that if I hadn’t have heard her talk about it. We are not meant to do life alone. When I was in high school I thought being a Christian meant sitting at home alone reading your bible while everyone else was out together having fun. But Jesus had 12 trusted friends he pretty much did everything with. Our friends are meant to grow with us, be honest with us, carry us through hard times, and in the same way we’re there for them. Making new friends can be uncomfortable, but keep showing up, keep initiating, keep going places where you know people who love Jesus will be. Life is not easy and we need each other.
3. Realizing our lives are not about ourselves.
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)
I don’t want you to read this and hear me say, “this is what worked for me, this can work for you. Follow what I did” Because it is not about me. Hear me say that I am broken and impatient and an overcommitter and really need a savior because I fall short everyday of who I want to be. I’m not worth following but the God I follow IS worth it. He knows I mess up all the time and He’s not mad. He is perfect and forgiving and loving and powerful. The Bible is made up of His own words and it is full of stories about Him taking care of His people in crazy ways. We never have to feel alone or out of control. He is not distant. In college one time in a harder season I prayed out loud in my car with worship music playing, and I can’t describe it but I truly felt his presence with me. Even though life looked nothing the way I wanted it to at the time, I felt like I had this loving creator who made me and had a purpose for me and was closer than He ever had been before. And I knew I was going to be okay.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
There is a lot of darkness in the world. But if Christ is in us we can have confidence that we’ve read the end of the book and the darkness does not overcome the light. Jesus says in John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Lauren Ruark is the artist and designer behind Lauren Fuhr Design Co. She loves high school ministry and any creative projects she can get her hands on. She shares her art with the hope of making others’ lives and homes more beautiful, but ultimately pointing them to the true source of beautiful, full life that is in Jesus. She loves being outside and lives live to the full with her husband, AJ, and their dog, Wilson.
I was sitting on a plane at 4am on my way to Costa Rica for a mission trip when a song by Beyonce came on my Spotify. The words of this song unexpectedly hit me.
Hold up, they don’t love you like I love you
Slow down, they don’t love you like I love you
Back up, they don’t love you like I love you
Step down, they don’t love you like I love you
I got out my journal and wrote the lyrics down along with the line “From Beyonce. And also God.” I laugh thinking about it now but when I was sitting there two years ago, as I was coming out of a hard, growing season, I was struck by God’s love in a new way.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick, who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart and test the mind.” In 2019, my first year out of college, I saw that play out in my heart. I knew God created me to love being with people, and I had seen how being in close community had changed my life. But my heart was deceitful and I so easily made people and relationships ultimate things. I wanted to be loved and to get married. Even though I felt grown up, I still wanted my dad to be proud of me. I wanted a peaceful relationship with my family. I watched my heart strive and work and compromise to try to get these things above anything else. But in those, my heart was actually craving a relationship with my Heavenly Father and Bridegroom. My soul craved love that I was not even able to comprehend the depths of.
Tim Keller wrote, “Jesus must become more beautiful to your imagination, more attractive to your heart, than your idol. That is what will replace your counterfeit gods. If you uproot the idol and fail to “plant” the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back.” (Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods, pp. 172-173)
So to here’s what I learned when I was trying to live my life for human love:
-I will feel insecure
Relationships change so much. If they are my compass, if they decide that I am okay, if I measure up, if I’m where I should be in life, if I have a certain status—I will be insecure. I’ll need others’ affirmation to prove something about myself. Even the best, safest, closest people in our lives believe lies and false narratives about us sometimes, say the wrong things, and have struggles that we can’t even see. I will be crushed if I am leaning against those people as my only support and source of truth.
-I cannot trust my heart
My emotions are helpful indicators of things that I’m feeling, but my heart is selfish and flawed and if I follow it, it will lead me down the wrong path. In my pride, my heart also wants to earn love because of something that I bring to the table that makes me worthy. But I don’t bring anything good besides the fact that He made me—I am not enough, and that’s okay. It is so freeing that I don’t have to do anything to have it all together—if I’m being obedient to my perfect Savior and using my life to glorify Him, I can’t go wrong. He has PLANS—Jeremiah 29:11. He has multiple plans—to give me a hope and a future. I don’t have to worry about how things should look in my life. Hard things will always be apart of life on earth. His plans will not look the way we think they should most of the time. But he is good and so worthy of being trusted.
-I don’t have control.
“For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)
I’m a three on the enneagram. I love setting goals and achieving them. But relationships aren’t like this. They aren’t boxes that you can check off if you work really hard. The Lord has to be the One to do it. In this season especially, relationships within my family consumed a lot of my heart and mind. I thought that if I said the right things, read my Bible, and prayed, certain harder areas would change in the ways that I thought they should change. I felt powerless when it wasn’t happening. But God had something so much better. It involved so much change in my life that only He could have set into place—when I had thought it would require change in the lives of the other people. All I needed to do that was to give Him my whole heart—trusting Him, talking to Him, reading about how He has done miraculous things in the past, knowing He will do it again, and asking Him to direct my steps.
And here is what I learned about God’s love.
-His love is personal
He is not a distant or vague idea. His love is active in our lives if we are looking for it and talking to Him. For years, I didn’t understand how my deep desire for love could be found in someone I couldn’t even see in front of me. I didn’t think I could find a perfect, loving father in someone who I couldn’t sit across from. But He knows us so intimately and loves us more than we can ever imagine.
“The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a might hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage.” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)
“There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” (Deuteronemy 1:31)
-His love is perfect
On that same plane ride, another song came on shuffle and again I wrote down the lyrics in my journal, on the page next to the Beyonce lyrics. This one was a worship song that I knew well, called “Pieces.”
Your love’s not fractured
It’s not a troubled mind
It isn’t anxious
It’s not the restless kind
Your love’s not passive
It’s never disengaged
It’s always present
It hangs on every word we say
Love keeps its promises
It keeps its word
It honors what’s sacred
‘Cause its vows are good
Your love’s not broken
It’s not insecure
Your love’s not selfish
Your love is pure
For years, a world full of broken, human love had convinced me over and over again that I wasn’t good enough. It had tried to tell me so many things about my identity. But all along, He was looking at me, standing with open arms, and speaking identity to me that was louder—louder than any human voice, even from those that I loved—just to show me that I am His. That His love is truer. That He gets the glory from beginning to end, not me or another flawed person.
-His love can be trusted. He the absolute BEST in store for me. He’s not holding out on me.
God is the BEST storywriter. He totally did not have to answer this prayer for me but in April I got married to the love of my life—a man I hadn’t met yet when I had journaled these things in 2019. 1 Samuel 12:15 says, “Now therefore, stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king.” Jesus is king. He stands by us. He fights for us. He is a better king than any relationships we can try to use as stand-ins. “Do not turn away after useless idols. … They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.” (1 Samuel 12:21)
Lauren Ruark is the artist and designer behind Lauren Fuhr Design Co. She loves ministry and making life more beautiful through art and design. She leads student ministry with Highland Park KLIFE, works full time as a digital designer for Fossil, and at night and on the weekends she creates paintings and products that promote an effortless, artful, and beautiful lifestyle. She loves being outside and her years going to college in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains (go Rams!) inspire much of what she creates. Lauren sees the world differently because she sees art everywhere– in big windows and natural light, in decor and interior design, in landscapes and sunrises, laughs and life chats on the kitchen floor, linen bedspreads and neutral colors, and everything in between. She loves Jesus with everything she’s got and lives everyday to the fullest with her husband and their dog, Wilson.