Well hello blogging universe! 😀
The entire world has changed since I last visited this place, and God has tugged on some hard strings in my heart, moved in ways I can’t describe or explain (yes, of course this is the fault of the English language), and blessed me and challenged me in areas I never wanted or cared to visit. And yet here He is, putting me smack dab in the middle of where I’m most uncomfortable, until I’m comfortable enough with Him to not notice the difference.
I suppose we shall start at the beginning, because, as always, it’s a very good place to start 😀
Classes began this last Tuesday, after a handful of days of my being to able to just study God’s word and refresh myself in Him and not have to struggle with prioritizing anything except for Him.
So, I don’t know if you remember, but there was a girl named Marcy in my class last year and our personalities clashed really hard and what happened since that moment was all God; otherwise I would’ve been bitter, because for whatever reason, she just didn’t care for me, which is fine now, but at the time I was really struggling with not responding to her caustic manner out of anger or spite, or a desire to defend myself. I didn’t know her life, or of anything exactly that might’ve caused her to act that way towards me, so I wasn’t (and wouldn’t have been even if I were less ignorant) in a position to act in any way other than a loving one.
Last year, in Studio I’d submitted one chapter of one of one of my novels as a short story to see what people thought of it. One of the scenes was the protagonist being violated by her fiancé (the novel ends with her finding Christ, who of course has been there the whole time, and her coming through that trauma, which, virtually, is my testimony). Well, everyone in the critique gave great advice. But Marcy said that the scene was unrealistic and that “that’s not the way it happens” (as in, that’s not the way a man violates a woman). And it hit me right to the core for a number of reasons, primarily because she was making judgements of my writing without taking into account personal experience or knowledge. I can handle criticism, but that really hurt. God really had to help me not run on my feelings at that point and I just didn’t say anything (I realize this might seem like petty drama, but it really was difficult).
This semester, she’s in my studio again. Bree asked me how I felt about that. My response was that Christ loves her, so, regardless of how I feel about her or what she’s said to me in the past, I will love her too, knowing that He loves her. So, class comes up and we’re reading a collection of stories by Denis Johnson titled “Jesus’ Son.” I know the title is ridiculous and the book is frustrating. Anyway, there came a line in the book on which my professor asked for an opinion or perspective. The entire book, the protagonist is on drugs and constantly searching for something higher, and I found it to be just another story of someone desperately looking for something to fill them up, but everything except Christ would simply leave them empty. Marcy brought up something first, describing God as a righteous judge (which I could understand: of course God is still a righteous judge, but He’s not JUST that: He’s so much more).
Anyway, once she was finished and I prayerfully thought through my answer before I spoke, I offered my thoughts, bringing up, considering the context, the account of Christ talking to the Samaritan woman at the well, and how Christ is the living water that will not leave one thirsty, and I found that the protagonist was running from the very thing he was actually looking for in everything else. Thankfully, Marcy responded with agreement and our class had a great discussion. I was challenged a few more times, but that was fine.
When I left class, I was spiritually exhausted. The entire time I was struggling with reacting appropriately, giving my emotions to Christ, and thinking through everything everyone was saying.
But God was wonderful and He placed an event in the gym at which I’d volunteered to work; He’s good at knowing what I need, when I need it :).
Because I’m on the basketball team, I was asked to volunteer to help out with a coaches’ convention being put on by Nike in the Pratt gym. Yes, Nike, the athletic wear company. I said yes.
So I showed up with some of my other teammates, and we were given free shoes and sweatshirts, Nike brand. Then we basically just facilitated discussions until we were to help train and encourage the coaches through the physical part. My teammates and I were assigned to work with Triple Threat Mentoring, a group that encouraged and challenged kids and adults to back up athletic skills with character. It was exactly like being a camp counselor, except my girl campers were now replaced by grown men who made me feel like I was a mouse in the shadow of a vacuum cleaner.
At one point, I was walking around and one of the Triple Threat people pointed to my necklace (it’s a cross) and told me he liked it, and I noticed that he was wearing one as well. Later on, I asked him why he wore his (some people wear them just because they think it’s cool) and he said because of his faith. I then learned from several other team members that their organization was faith led by nearly all of the directors of the program. We had a great conversation and I could not believe how many Christians are everywhere. Just because I took the opportunity that God gave to ask these people what was up, I was so blessed with being surrounded by Christians. It was ridiculous.
Then, when the obstacle course (physical part of the convention) came up, my teammates and I were basically physical trainers, though with how much yelling and running and getting-in-people’s-faces I was doing, I felt more like what I’ve always thought a drill Sargent would look like. It was so much fun and most of the coaches had great sportsmanship and they worked together and seemed to have a really great time.
Afterwards, when my teammates and I were sitting on the bleachers, awaiting further instructions, the topic of the faith of Triple Threat came up, and then the discussion of where to find true happiness came up. And then I talked about Christ. And my one teammate said that there are other ways to be happy. And I said, sure, but it’s not the same (obviously there’s a lot more to say than that). And she disagreed, and I agreed to disagree and we accepted that. I said that whenever people look for happiness it goes away, and then they look for the next thing to make them happy, but with Christ, though it’s not the twitter patted, always giggly kind of happy most people think of, the happiness doesn’t leave. Joy in Him just gets greater and deeper the more you get to know Him. My other teammate was surprised and asked if I was speaking from personal experience. And I could say yes with confidence. But I wasn’t led to go further in the conversation, because both of them seemed to be chewing on that, and also our coordinator came to talk to us.
At the end of the week, I was just, for the most part, though I was leaning on Christ and resting in Him, refreshing myself in the morning and throughout the day and then again at night, reading His word, and talking to Him about everything, tired. But He’s so gracious in making me feel protected and rested in Him, even if my mind and body aren’t.