There are boxes taking up space on my bed and floor. I’m running on about three or four hours of sleep and caffeine. I have a lot of assignments due in not a lot of time. The pressure of moving out on time (by Residential Life) is kind of frightening and there are fines issued if I don’t do it right. I’m being spiritually attacked, my emotions looking way bigger than my God.
But God is good.
Yesterday I spent most of my time trying not to absolutely lose my mind. My professor had sent us four assignments that morning at two and we were to have them done by this afternoon. Our portfolios were also due today. I wore sunglasses to cover the circles under my eyes and attempted to not let how stressed I am show through, though I failed on a few occasions.
All I could do was pray that God would give me His strength, because mine was gone.
Last night I wasn’t going to go to church (because of the East Coast Baptist Fellowship, there was a service on Monday night as well as Tuesday), because I had too many things to do and no time to do any of them.
My last class ended and I was ready to plow through and try not to let the pressure get to me.
God: Hunter, maybe you should go to church tonight.
Me: I don’t have time for church. I need to put finals week first. I need to be responsible.
God: You need to go to church. Trust Me.
So I headed to church, grumpy, frustrated, stressed, ready to curl up into a ball and cry. It was really bad.
I hopped on the subway and made the trip to IBC, expecting nothing more than more stress to come of not being back at my dorm, studying, writing, packing. I didn’t have time for this.
When I walked into the building, I went and sat in a pew and struggled not to cry. Everyone was dressed up and all snazzy-looking. Everyone was mingling and introducing and talking. I had come right from class in jeans and a sweatshirt, and while I know it was silly to feel so out of place, I did. Satan was feeding me lie after lie after lie and I had no defense.
Finals are not that stressful. I shouldn’t be so blubbery. What’s my problem?
As I sat in the pew, however, next to Antoinette, and the service started, and the room brimmed with the flooding love and praise of believers, my heart calmed down, the tears evaporated, and I couldn’t imagine what would’ve happened if I’d stayed back at Pratt.
Pastor Kenny Baldwin preached first, a pulpit-pounding, sweaty, passionate, energetic, charismatic preacher from down around Washington D.C. He was no subtlety and all soul. He yelled and hollered the whole message, but the message was heard: there is no amount of credibility, no amount of special skills that can vouch for us or prove our genuineness as children of God. The only person we no for certain is saved is ourselves. Jesus, and the way He loves, is the only thing that can show the world what it’s been searching for. Jesus, and knowing Him, transforms the sinner into a light of hope for the world to look at and wonder “what do they have?”
I sat there and it suddenly didn’t matter that I was exhausted, that I hadn’t had time to change my clothes (which I had never cared about before), that I was sitting near the back of the crowded sanctuary, that there was doubt and fear and stress sitting on my shoulders. All that mattered was that I’m God’s girl, that I have Him to run to, that I don’t have to impress Him with my clothes or with my deeds or with my speech. I didn’t have to be eloquent or strong, but I could have a stutter and be broken. I’m so glad He wants me to be broken, because it’s what I’m good at. Thankfully, so thankfully, He’s good at putting broken things back together again.
After the second sermon, after the final song, after my ears and heart and mind had their fill of God’s encouragement, I left to go back onto the battlefield and try again. Sam gave me more boxes to help me pack things away, so I carried those to the train. Edward, Adham, and Precilla all walked me to the train, and Adham took the train with me since he was headed in the same direction.
He carried my boxes for me and we sang Queen and Michael Jackson on the platform while waiting for the train. The silliness transitioned into a really good talk. And then Adham left, and I was alone with my thoughts and my boxes.
I didn’t get to sleep until about three or four in the morning, struggling to complete my assignments before class. When I woke up, I was going to skip hanging out with God so I would have more time to work on homework…but I knew if I did that the day would be much longer than it should.
So I opened my journal and prayed. I was reminded that, even though finals week is a pretty small thing in the grand scheme of life, God still cares about it. He loves it when you call on Him for the small things, because it prepares you to call on Him for the big things. Right now, my emotions and finals feel like the big things.
I didn’t instantly feel better. I still felt exhausted and crushed, but I knew Truth, I knew that it wasn’t going to last, that God has given me intelligence and determination and diligence enough to complete all of my assignments and be coherent. I knew He could do it, even if I couldn’t.
This morning for breakfast I gave in and drank a vanilla frappuccino. It did it’s job and I was able to be awake during my final presentation for Word, Usage, and Style. After that class ended, I put on the finishing touches to my portfolio, completed another assignment, packed a few more things. The day was wearing on me and I needed just a fresh word from God, anything, but I didn’t have time.
While we were waiting outside the classroom for our Studio professor, another professor came and said our professor had been in a car accident, but he was fine and would be there in about forty-five minutes….which meant I had time for Bible Study 🙂
We all went to the cafeteria and as I read Creation Regained and studied God’s Word, I couldn’t help but feel a little humbled. God had it all under control.
We went through class, through two critiques before time ran out. The other two critiques would have to be completed on Thursday.
After Studio ended, I went and grabbed dinner and headed back to my dorm to, you guessed it, work on homework. I went and met up with Charlene after a while (she’d asked me to model for a project she was doing). She came back to the dorm with me and put make up on me, her project being about how you really don’t need makeup, that natural beauty is sufficient, more than sufficient.
I never wear makeup. Ever. Because it’s just not practical. Also, I like my face 🙂 God made it this way for a reason. He shaded my eyes perfectly and formed the color of my lips without hesitation. He counted out every hair on my head and knows how many hairs I pull out when I brush them. He created my skin to fit my body and formed my inward parts. Makeup is not needed for something so beautifully and wonderfully made 🙂
I know that might sound egotistical, to say that I’m beautiful without makeup, but putting physical appearances aside, God affirms my beauty in His eyes every day. Honestly, when it comes right down to it, His opinion of me is the only one that matters. He knows what’s in my heart, no matter how much I might try to conceal it. God thinks I’m beautiful. He sees me as a bride. There’s no reason to think God made junk when He made me. God don’t make no junk 😛
Later on in the evening, after I had posed for Charlene’s pictures and washed all of the makeup off, I was hit with fear, just straight out frustration and hopelessness (the second cup of coffee that afternoon probably didn’t help anything). I told God that I didn’t want to do this whole growing-up thing, being-on-my-own thing, trying-to-figure-out-my-life thing.
To the last one He told me I didn’t have to.
I understand now why so many adults lose faith when they grow up. The “real world” becomes a towering giant that enforces rules and regulations and definitions of success that conflict with the lovely recklessness of God’s Word. I’m sitting here wondering what the heck is going to happen in the future, and even though I’m not being uplifted by some magical force, some supernatural something rather, I know about God, and I know that He has a plan, and, as cliche as that might sound, it’s the one thing that keeps everything in perspective.
There are always times in life, in both the small things and the big things, when you can’t feel God, when you feel like He’s just not there, just not real enough for you. It’s during times like these when faith is necessary, when you lean on what you know to be true and ignore what you might be feeling. I feel lonely, hopeless, and confused, but I know the Truth, that God never sleeps and He’s always with me so I’m NEVER alone, that He’s called me to hope in Him because He will always catch me with two strong arms whenever I take a leap of faith.
God does this impossible thing where He takes the jumbled mess of the day, the poor decisions, the challenges both internal and external, the emotional nonsense, the frustrations, the metaphorical and physical wipeouts, and He meticulously and perfectly untangles each and every strand until it all makes sense again.
Even if a few of the strands have knots in them where they tore or seem to be unrepairable, where we destroyed a relationship or at least maimed it, where we took a wrong turn or just made a mistake, where we forgot for just one moment the life we’ve been called to live, He uses all of it to make the day one square out of the quilt that makes up our lives. Today is just one square with a few knots and broken strings, but it won’t disrupt the pattern that God is weaving into each of our lives 🙂
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” —2 Corinthians 5:7, ESV