I’ve experienced deja vu maybe twice in my life before right now, as I prepare to return to New York City, to Pratt, to the people I call my friends, to a challenge that is very real and very difficult. The same feelings of fear, nervousness, and doubt plague my heart and statements like “My faith isn’t strong enough for me to do this,” “This year is going to be the hardest yet,” and “I don’t know what’s going to happen,” run through my head on a constant reel…
But God 🙂
Last year, I had bouts of doubt, suffocating fear, incredible worry, and lots of breakdowns when everything I thought I knew was challenged, when truth was suddenly culturally accepted as relative and flexible, when I was on my own, away from home. And through all of the challenges, I was sure that that would be it, that my doubt would be so big that I would surely turn from my faith, that Satan just might win this time, that maybe it would just be easier to give in. But I always came out on the other side, still clenching tightly to God’s hand, remembering that He’d never once let go, even when I fell through holes and tripped over rocks. Cool 🙂
For the past couple of weeks and then next week, I’ve been at Camp BaYouCa, a Christian summer camp taking in kids ages seven through eighteen, not including Precious Jewels week and Family weeks. These weeks have been the craziest and most uncomfortable weeks I’ve had in a long time…but boy has it been worth it. I’ve never been part of a deliberate ministry. What I mean by deliberate ministry is that it’s a place where the gospel is a given and the pursuit of evangelism and growth in Christ is the objective. Granted, ministry takes place everywhere, whether it be in Brooklyn or Hollywood, Paris or London, Kuwait or Kentucky, Nicaragua or Australia. But my ministry in the City is different from the ministry at camp.
ANYWAY. I didn’t realize that I’d gotten used to being tired over the summer (because being a camp counselor is a very exhausting job…though it doesn’t really feel like work when you’re hiking through the woods at night in search of a glow-in-the-dark plant or having a bunch of ten-year-old girls dress you up and paint your face to make you look like a caterpillar 😛 ), so I also sort of forgot what it felt like to be fully and completely rested.
During this past week of camp, I was trying to figure out why it was so difficult to combat emotions like jealousy and bitterness, why it was so hard to focus on important things, why it took such physical effort to turn things over to God that I knew I couldn’t mentally deal with on my own, whereas all of these things, though still challenging due to my sin nature and ridiculously fickle humanity, had come to be my default actions, just because Christ has the effect of making someone so much better than they could ever be on their own. Well, this week I’m home, housesitting for my Aunt Joan, which I think is funny because last year, when I was house-sitting, was when I began writing this blog…go figure :). Anyway, I’ve rested up, and I’m thinking through my actions and my reactions during these past weeks, and all I can say is “What was wrong with me??”
Tired. I was 100% exhausted, and that made me a little…well, loopy. Not that exhaustion is an excuse to do anything except sleep, but I can say from experience (my many breakdowns during my freshman year at college, my inability to speak properly while having theological conversations with Sam and Edward…you get the point) that being tired and not physically yourself makes you not be yourself mentally. Listen to your body when it’s tired…listen to it. Do it.
A few days ago, I was checking my email and found an Amazon purchase confirmation email in my inbox. Of course, my first thought was “Someone totally high-jacked my identity and I’m going to lose my life and the world is going to blow up.” But then I saw what had been ordered: sponge curlers.
I remembered mentally putting that on a list of things to buy, but I wasn’t supposed to buy them until later. I checked the time of purchase: 1:00am. I slapped myself in the forehead: I had ordered sponge curlers in my sleep. Very vaguely did I remember scrolling through Amazon the night before, but I had fallen asleep without my iPod in my hand. While making this purchase, I also changed the shipping address to my home instead of Pratt…all in my sleep.
This is what happens when you’re tired.
So I’m back to myself, still a little weird (because what else would myself be?), but pretty much back to my analytical, non-emotion driven, relatively objective, sort of sane self 🙂
God does this thing where He makes something good come out of something that seems really bad. Lately (mostly, probably because I’ve been so exhausted) I’ve been doubting and giving into fears I would normally be able to fight. So I was struggling with that a bit until one of my friends expressed difficulty happening in her faith. While this was difficult for her, the opportunity to talk to her and try to encourage and understand her brought me back into the realm of “oh, yeah, God loves me. I’m His girl. He is real. Duh.” So He brought me back to Him through someone else’s difficulty, despite my tiredness. Wow.
He’s also blessed me insanely lately. I believe that every good thing in life comes from God, whether it be something simple like beautiful weather or something insane like the healing of a terminal disease. James 1:17 says “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” I’ve been allowing myself to fear finances, not finances themselves but, ya know, finances. I’ve been thinking about putting gas in the car and college and subway fare and all of the other everything (which is incredibly silly since God has it all under control and He’ll provide for me in every way, as He says in His word). But every time I’ve had to put gas in the car, my Dad has always come and said, “Hunter, I already put gas in the car.” God blesses me through my father on a regular basis, and the fact that my Daddy is looking out for me even as I’m growing up makes me feel very loved and very precious outside of God’s love for me. It’s really wonderful 🙂
Needless to say, summer is coming to a close, and Chapter Two: Sophomore Year, is arriving with the coming dawn of autumn. Am I nervous? I was for a bit, but then I remembered how God valiantly rescued me time after time and how He grew me despite myself last year. Why would anything change? Why would He do anything that He hasn’t done for me or promised to do for me? I have full confidence in the fact that, should I fall, which I probably will, both physically and spiritually, God will pick me up and remind me of who I am in Him, remind me that the big questions of life for me are already answered, remind me that, yes, I can take Him at His word and I can challenge Him and expect Him to come through every time with unexplainable graciousness and love and understanding that will drive me to my knees.
And I’m ready for it, and even if in the next weeks leading up to my return I find that I’m actually not, it doesn’t matter, because God is ready 🙂