I am so not perfect. I am a failure. I’m just a big white ball of vulnerability that trips over things and runs face-first into doors. The other day I watched a movie. I had forgotten how much nasty content was in it. Then I watched a different movie that I’d never seen before, but it was one of those “oh, it’s a classic 80s movie you just HAVE to watch.” Well, I’m sorry that I watched it, because THAT had a lot of nasty content in it as well. Also, I’ve been listening to secular music lately, just for a change from classical, movie soundtracks, and KLOVE. It wasn’t necessarily unclean, but it wasn’t really uplifting or pushing me in the right direction either. Also, for Writer’s Studio, I’m reading a book filled with ‘content.’ My brain has been filled with absolute garbage for the past week or so.
This morning I woke up and sat down to read my devotional and my Bible. But as I read it, I realized that it wasn’t exciting; I was totally separated from the joy that I usually get out of spending time with God. I sat back in my chair and felt convicted about the wedge I had allowed to slowly come between He and I. I just sat and prayed, and cried, and asked for forgiveness, because I felt lonely, disconnected.
I know what you might be thinking. “Gosh, Hunter, it’s just media. You’re allowed to have a little fun once in a while. Chill out.” But you see, it was stupid of me to let myself make those kinds of decisions in every area all at once. I wasn’t filling my head with things that were going to help me grow in my relationship with Christ. It’s not that I HAVE to do this….it’s that I NEED to. Without God, I can’t function. I can’t be me. I’m this psycho-crazy, grumpy, sassy (and not in a funny way), teenager that’s never seen the inside of a church. I can’t live without Him. I crave Him something fierce, and, honestly, nothing I watch, listen to, or read is worth feeling separated from Him, not even for a moment. Now, I don’t believe that I can lose my salvation. No, my eternity with God is totally secure, whether I sin or not from this point onward. But I don’t want to live my life without Him.
I just feel like an idiot for forgetting my own limitations. I can handle secularism and humanism in increments, but I can’t handle it coming at me from everywhere at once. As I was writing and crying to God, I felt guilty, even though I had already asked for forgiveness. God is faithful and just to forgive our sins (1 John 1:9), and He’s removed my sins from me as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), and when I ask Him for forgiveness, for real and it’s not just lip service because I feel obligated, He forgives me right there. Any guilt that follows afterwards is Satan trying to mess with me. I’ve already been forgiven for EVERYTHING. Satan has no business coming in and reminding me of it all. I was reminded of my life verse today. Micah chapter seven, verse eight says, “Do not laugh at me, my enemies, for though I have fallen, I will get up. Although I sit in darkness, the Lord is my light.” Yep, I messed up….again. But I’m going to…it happens. God caught me with both arms before I was totally going in the wrong direction. This is really difficult. I don’t know if I can keep reading these books. I can eliminate the movie and music problems, but I don’t know what to do about the books. I really wish I could do independent study or something. I need to fix this soon.
After my devotions, I went to church. This morning the message was about forgiveness, just like last week, except this week I really needed to hear it. It’s weird. When I woke up this morning and felt guilty about everything I had been putting into my brain, I didn’t feel worthy enough to go to church, I didn’t feel like I was good enough to talk to God. OF COURSE I’m not good enough; God MADE me good enough. I NEED to go to church, to talk to Him. Satan WANTS me not to go to church, to be weighed down by my guilt. “The church is not a museum for good people, but a hospital for the broken.” And I am broken…I. Am. Broken. Just because I’m saved by God’s eternal grace, His everlasting love, His faithful forgiveness, doesn’t mean I’ll never mess up. I still have a lot to learn. This is why, especially when I mess up, it’s crucial for me to go to church, to be encouraged, to talk to God rather than avoid Him.
Also, avoiding God is kind of pointless….since He’s, ya know, all over the place 😛
Morning service ended and Arial, Marco, and I went to this place called Juice Peddler. I’m not gonna lie: I have been really worried about money lately (I know, you’re so shocked). But things keep coming up and I keep freaking out. It is REALLY difficult to have faith when physical problems like money and careers and such are on the line. But I mean, money is the one area of life that God actually comes out and says, “Test Me on this.” (Malachi 3:10). Obviously this doesn’t mean I should go out and blow all of my moola in one day, but it does mean I can have fun every once in a while, and buy the things I need, having faith that God will provide. The world is His; why would He not be able to take care of me?
Anyway, Juice Peddler is a smoothie and bike place (I know, it doesn’t make sense to me either). We ordered smoothies: Arial got an apple pie smoothie (it had carrot juice in it!), Marco got a mango smoothie, and I was adventurous and bought a peanut butter cup smoothie and a pain au chocolat…..it was probably the most disgusting thing I’d ever consumed in my entire life. Then, to see if it was just the flavor, I tried Marco’s. Nope. Tried Arial’s. Yuck! I’m not normally a picky person, but after I tried their smoothies, my stomach was turning in every which way. I was feeling terrible, but I was glad that they had “expanded my palate.”
Marco and Arial had choir practice, so I sat in the sanctuary and read The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien. While I was sitting there, a character (who I will introduce in a moment) came and began talking to me. This character’s name is Darren (this isn’t his real name, but I’m gonna call him Darren). Now, he’s been attending this church for the past couple of weeks. He’s actually from upstate New York, a few hours from where I live. Also, since he’s been attending, he’s always talking to me. At first I was very put off by it: remember, guys kind of scare me, not because they’re scary (guys are awesome :)) just because of my experience and what God is working on with me and will probably be working on with me for the rest of my life. Well, today, while he was talking to me, I decided that I didn’t need to be reserved or put off; I needed to be nice, kind, and attentive. I needed to practice listening. This didn’t mean I was encouraging him or anything like that, I was just being the girl that I knew God would want me to be in front of this guy who, from our conversations, seemed to really be passionate about furthering the kingdom of God. So I listened, and it was nice.
At one point he confided in me (which he’s done in previous conversations) that he really wanted to find a soul winning partner (he’s told me he often goes to Times Square after church to go soul winning by himself). So, I said, because I was trying to encourage him towards productivity, to go talk to Adham or maybe even Edward (I haven’t introduced Edward to you yet, but I will soon). He asked me if I could introduce him to them. I agreed and we continued talking. He also asked me (as is also typical in our conversations) if I had eaten lunch yet. I told him about my smoothie experience. He voiced his concern about my being hungry. I told him I was fine and I wasn’t all that hungry.
After the second service, which was all about what’s wrong with America today (the general shirking of responsibility, which makes perfect sense), me, Adham, Edward, Denis, and a few others were hanging out and talking. Darren walked up to talk to Sam, who was standing in our group, so I took that opportunity to introduce them to him. Later on, while we were still hanging out, Adham asked me who Darren was and why I had wanted to introduce him to the guys. I explained to him our conversations as of late and he began laughing.
Rebecca was sitting there and she was laughing too. I couldn’t figure out what was so funny.
“Rebecca,” Adham began, “would you want to go soul winning with me in Times Square? While we’re there, we could stop by this amazing Korean place and hand out tracts…and then maybe we could talk.”
I still didn’t understand.
Sam came over and Adham told me to tell Sam what I had told him. So I began, and halfway through the story, I realized what I had totally missed: Darren had been trying to ask me out. I face-palmed myself and began laughing as well, my face becoming very red. I asked Sam for a second opinion. He agreed.
Edward came over then. A bunch of us were headed to Redeemer Church in Manhattan to watch a debate between pastor Tim Keller (yes, THE Tim Keller) and Humanist rabbi Greg M. Epstein. I honestly didn’t even know that Humanism had rabbis. We all left and headed to Manhattan. Okay, so, Edward is sort of the second part of a dynamic duo that consists of he and Adham. The two of them, together, are like two peas in a pod, and they’re a lot of fun to be around. I especially like these guys because they really love digging deep into the Bible, watching debates, exploring theological literature by authors like C.S. Lewis, and learning more about God and His word whenever they can. They’re hungry and thirsty for Him, and it’s amazing to witness.
So we arrive at Hunter College (oh yes, there were a great many jokes made about me). We scoot through the line quickly and are seated in the balcony. The moment I get to my seat I realize that this is definitely my scene. It’s a huge auditorium with fine red carpeting and seat cushions, black banisters, and white ceilings held up by tall walls and pillars of the same color. Below us is a hardwood stage with a band consisting of a Baby Grand, an acoustic guitar, a drummer and his set, and a violin playing some kind of jazz. Thick red curtains were the back drop behind a wide projector screen.
The topic specifically being debated was “Can life have meaning without God?” This question was based off of C.S. Lewis’s essay “The Atomic Age.” Max McLean, the artistic director of the Fellowship for the Performing Arts came out and began the event with reciting Lewis’s essay. It was amazing how much he had memorized, how much character and drama he put into the performance. I nearly cried because it was so beautiful (go ahead, laugh at my nerdiness). The hostess (or announcer, whichever you prefer) walked onto the stage afterwards. She was quite charming and very excited about the event. She first had the audience do an interactive survey to see what kind of diversity existed among us. People texted into the college database whether they were Christian, Humanist, Buddhist, etc. There were 607 Christians, 68 Humanists/Atheists, and about 30 other religions represented. It was insane.
After the survey, Keller and Epstein walked out onto the stage. I was getting really nervous for some reason; I just always get nervous about religious debates. Edward, who was sitting next to me, apparently noticed my tension and helped me unball my fists and calm myself down on more than one occasion, because I became this way multiple times throughout the debate. Both men were amiable, considerate, literate, and educated. Nevertheless, Epstein lacked something that Keller had: answers. Epstein repeated in his arguments that no one religion, no one person had the one true meaning of life. He was arguing that we created meaning for ourselves. But he never really answered the question with certainty. Keller, however, really gave hope, objective hope and meaning based off of the word of God. Some of the things Epstein said made me cringe, but other things he said made me smile, seeing just how close he was to touching the gospel and the teachings of God and then seeing how quickly he backed away.
The debate had no winner, but our group really felt that Keller had produced better arguments and evidence for his reasoning. Epstein not so much. Even though Epstein was cordial and respectful and intelligent, he was missing something substantial.
We all began walking towards Rockefeller Center. Edward and I talked most of the way, and somehow the subject of relationships came up. In fact, that was what a lot of everyone’s conversations were about. I get so frustrated with this. I get so frustrated with thinking about relationships and talking about relationships and I wish I could avoid talking about them. Then I remember I’m a hopeless romantic who actually eventually wants a sappy, cheesy, relationship with someone who loves God as much as I do. But THEN I remember that I’m never getting married and I’m going to live as a hermit, by myself, alone.
I’m just so confused.
The one question that messes me up the most is “how can I ever be in a relationship with someone while also being in a fully-devoted relationship with God?” I just don’t understand how to do that. At one point, Edward said “I don’t doubt you have plenty of suitors.” This doesn’t make any sense to me. Why in the world would I have suitors?
Never mind, I’m not going there.
If you have questions about relationships though, I found this awesome video after getting home from our adventures:
Go for it! I found it really helpful 🙂
Anyway, so we’re heading towards Rockefeller Center. We arrive and the tree is ALREADY being set up! Oh I’m so excited to see it lit! Manhattan already had some buildings decorated with tons of lights and wreaths. The trees in front of the skating rink at the Center were also decorated with fluorescent lights. Our group watched the skaters as they did tricks, held hands, and fell over. It was a lot of fun 🙂 I’ve never been ice-skating before (at least I can’t remember ever going), but I hope to go while I’m here.
After this we went and got ice-cream at a Cold Stone Creamery….at eleven o’clock at night…yeah. We took our ice-cream and sat in Five Guys Burgers and Fries (YES!) and talked for a while. Eventually we all left and went back to our homes. As I walked back to campus, I noticed that, other than the considerable difference in light, Brooklyn at midnight didn’t look too different from Brooklyn at six-thirty in the morning. There are very few cars and fewer people, but the lights are on and there are plenty of law enforcement going around 🙂
When I came back into my dorm, exhaustion hit me between the eyes but frustration hit me harder. I was just really distressed about the entire relationship situation. Not that I’m considering getting into one; it’s just that, at my church, it surprises me how many young men are so on fire for God, who are gentlemen. It drives me crazy! When I was in high school, I thought these kinds of men were rare, like I was never going to find one for me. And now all I can think is that they’re everywhere and I’m sick of being bothered by it.
“Hunter, you’re making this too complicated. They’re just guys. Why are you being bothered?”
Why? Because I am supposed to be single for the rest of my life, just being with God, because, when it comes right down to it, when you take away all of my fears of loneliness and of vulnerability, He’s all I need. The plan (or at least my plan) is to just be with Him. Yes; I said in a previous post that God wants us, when He presents the opportunity, to date, to take the risk of being rejected. But I don’t know His plan for me. Right now I really just want Him. And Satan is constantly bothering me with my past, with my loneliness. He’s really twisted and messed up. I’m sooooo not ready for any of that, and he knows it.
Besides, if it’s not God’s will, nothing will happen. Relationships are His forte; the ball is in His court. It’s up to Him. For now, I’m going to focus on Him, school, family, and myself. I know that sounds weird, maybe even a little cold, but this is the area in which my thorn resides, and I’m not going to take this lightly. Now, I’m not saying I’m right; in fact, I may be disturbingly wrong. But that’s okay. I will wait until God proves me wrong.
This is all so much harder than I thought it would be, but God wants me here for some crazy reason. This past week was frightening, intimidating, and for a moment on Friday I really considered just not writing about God anymore, just hiding my faith. But then I decided that’s exactly what Satan wants. He wants me to back down, to give into my fear. If I keep writing about God and professing His word as truth, the attacks are going to continue. But really, what’s the worst they can do to me? Make me cry? I can handle that. Also, it’s not about me; it’s about them hearing the truth, regardless of my fears or of Satan’s schemes. I will not back down.
For now, I’m homesick, but God is keeping me distracted. I’m discouraged, but God is maintaining my hope. I’m guilty, but God is proving me innocent. I’m afraid, but God is being my strength. I’m alone, but God is being my companion. I’m broken, but God is being my glue.
“The Lord is near the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in Spirit.” Psalm 34:18, ESV