With everything that’s going on at this point in my life, I continuously try to blog about it, talk about it, analyze it, but all I can think is “I’ll write about it when it comes to it’s conclusion.” But as God moves, as He orchestrates events and places people and grows me, I’m realizing that this adventure will never conclude, and that it’s only just begun.
Last Friday night, I sat unsteady but recovering at my desk, cooped up in my dorm room after a day of resting and thinking and trying not to think too hard. I was praying, asking God what I was supposed to do (I’d been shaken up a bit), what I was supposed to say, how to handle a couple of different situations. I had no idea where to go or what to do. That’s when my phone lit up with a message from Uncle Doug, telling me he’d be in NYC the next day, asking me if I’d like a visit.
Jesus loves me.
Saturday morning, I sat at the feet of Christ, realizing that the things I struggle with, I might just struggle with them for the rest of my life. I just might. I might never overcome my fear or ever be healed completely of what I’ve experienced in the past. Sitting there, however, with my Bible open, my pen in hand, journal set, I realized it was okay. So long as God is glorified through my struggle, so long as I grow in Him and He is seen through my life and through me, then it’s okay. More than okay. It’s His will and it’s what I want. But there is victory to be had, no matter how small, and there is healing to undergo, no matter how slow.
I rode my bike to Jenny’s house to help her with a yard sale. As I pedaled through Prospect Park, as the sun was shining and the air was cool and fresh and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect, I prayed out loud to God, and I probably looked like a total crazy person, but that’s all right 🙂 When I got to Jenny’s, we carried everything out to the sidewalk and sat outside all day.
At one point, I was scrolling through my phone and found a video shared by my dad. Jacob had baptized two of the guys in his Bible Study, and I had been praying during the week leading up to the baptism. I watched the video and did a little happy dance (it was actually a very elaborate affair with many twirls and weird noises and maybe even some singing) as I watched him baptize them.
Later that night, after I’d gotten back from Jenny’s house and I’d run around like a crazy person trying to make myself decently presentable, I met up with Uncle Doug, and was once again reminded of God’s desire to grow me and His love for me, and how He doesn’t leave me hanging, ever. Uncle Doug and I spent about five hours talking over coffee and ice cream and Indian food and Brooklyn, and since then several of my fears have evaporated and my heart has been encouraged even more so.
Today, Wednesday, I sat in Writer’s Forum, the last one of the semester, feeling very confused as a woman recited modern poetry (or at least, I think that’s what it was…she screamed and sang and jumped up and down a lot…) and everyone in the lecture hall clapped and applauded each time she finished a piece. I will never understand this.
The desire to leave the City and just be home keeps pulling against the desire to not be complacent and instead finish strong, and I’m back where I was last year, pushing against the secularism of everything around me and striving to lean on and be protected by God and His word. 3×5 cards have become anathema, so, to break the spell of monotony over memorizing scripture on these cards (studying for classes on 3×5 cards has temporarily ruined the use of them for me, unfortunately), I’ve put scripture on innumerable sticky notes and covered my side of the room with them. I’m just really ready to go home.
But even when I think of home, it doesn’t quite feel like a base anymore, not because I don’t love and miss my family, but it’s more like I’m a visitor and it’s a temporary stay. But being at all of the other places I travel to throughout the year don’t quite feel like home either. I’m just kind of rootless, physically, I mean. I remember coming to the realization that familiarity couldn’t be my safe haven anymore. Before I left for my first year at Pratt, while I was suffering through a random sickness at the Brock household, God explained to me that things were going to change, and I needed to let Him be my home and my roots, the constant I could go back to and depend upon. Well, here I am, without quite belonging anywhere, or at least feeling that way. Loved? Yes, beyond words 🙂 And I know I’m loved. Treasured? Enjoyed? You bet 🙂 But there’s a funky limbo between living at home and living everywhere else and I’m in that in-between stage…but it’s not bad. God is here. He’s still God, and He’s still constant. Francesca Battistelli has a song called “Constant,” and in it she sings “Okay, I really don’t like change, but I can’t stop it. I’m moving forward anyway with a promise. You are the anchor of my soul; that’s all I need to know.” This is basically the summation of most of my thoughts 🙂
Back in Writer’s Forum, as the poet stopped her ritual, she was asked a question or two. She began talking about magic and how she’d been told by the earth that it doesn’t like fracking, and she went on to explain the sensations of using magic and different incantations.
I walked out of the lecture hall, not in the mood to hang around and see how much temptation I could handle.
The forum had gone over time, so I ended up being late to my last Creating Character class. On the way there, I found myself fuming, angry, frustrated with some of my classmates, with homesickness, with select parts of my circumstances, with the overwhelming disbelief and lukewarmness of nearly the entire campus and with myself for being swept up by it, even if it was only for a moment.
But then, as I’ve been reminded in the past few days, I remembered the importance and power of scripture, and I was reminded of how stupid and idiotic it was for me to think even for one second that because the people around me don’t take the Bible seriously does not mean it’s not true, does not mean it’s not the word of God. I remembered God’s desire for me to be slow to anger, and I leaned into Him, and went to class.
After class, I walked to my dorm and ended up talking to Eli, the security guard, who’s Jewish. We had a long discussion about the New Testament v. the Old Testament. He proceeded to tell me that the two books didn’t mesh at all and none of the connections made between the books held any water for him. I listened and asked questions, but each stab against Christ, each blatant “Well, I don’t believe that,” and “If your religion makes you a better person, good for you,” hurt, and knocked down what little emotional defense I had left, what little strength and joy I was holding onto out of my own power. I wasn’t depending on God to pull me through, or to sustain me, and so I fell.
When we finished talking, I went to the cafeteria to meet up with Charlene for dinner. She texted me as I walked in, asking to push our meeting time to half an hour later. I texted her back, grabbed food and sat in a booth, and as I pulled out my journal and my Bible, I started to cry. I cried for my classmates, for Eli, for the other Christians on campus, for my own weaknesses, for my family and their circumstances, for my church, and for the general hopelessness I was feeling for Pratt.
And yet, now, after I’ve already had dinner with Charlene and showered and taken a quick nap, I’m thinking of all the victories, all of the awesomeness of God that He’s manifested this semester, even though it has been by far the hardest yet, and I’m tempted to think “How on earth am I going to survive next year?” But, honestly, it all comes back to how much I’m willing to depend on God, and trust His word, and let Him love me and use me. I realized the other day that I started out this school year praying “Lord, please give me opportunities to….” and I’m ending it with praying “Lord, please use me to….” I still ask Him to give me opportunities, but I’m finding myself craving to be used by Him, not just being given the option to participate. Yes, Lord, give me opportunities to learn how to love, to better understand those that I love, to learn how to encourage, affirm, challenge, resist the enemy, fight the war, to be tender, to trust You, and give me the courage to take the opportunities You give. But Lord, please use me. Make me into someone You trust wholeheartedly to give others opportunities to grow. Use me to grow other people. Give me opportunities, yes, but please use me.
On top of this, regardless of how I’m feeling at present, God has pushed me way outside of myself and shown me, through others, just how selfish my heart is, how little I really think of other people, how little I consider the fact that, hey, maybe that other girl needs encouragement that I have to give, maybe she’s had a really rough morning and it would mean a lot if I walked up to her and started talking to her about what God is doing in my life, how much He loves her, how He sees her. I started this semester with thinking I had it all figured out, the concept of discipling on top of being discipled. Boy, was I completely and utterly wrong.
He’s put several women in my life, my age, by whom He’s challenged me, and I’ve caught a small glimpse of how much time, energy, patience, love, and all of everything else it takes to really, truly invest in someone like God has called me to invest in my sisters in Christ. Wow.
As I started spending more time with other people, however, I did fall once or twice into the mindset of seeing them as the enemy rather than people that God loves and wants to heal and bring back to Himself. There’s only one enemy, and one Victor. People are never the enemy. Humanity is never the enemy. And I need to remember that every time I walk into a classroom, every time I go to Bible Study, on campus and at Sam and Maria’s, every time I meet with a girl for lunch and every time I talk to someone about Christ.
And so now, as I study for ecology and study for French and study for every other subject under the sun, I’m still a bit worn, but regardless of how I feel, regardless of what today might’ve been like, I have an awesome God, who IS strong, who IS true, and who DOES love me in all my state. I CAN have joy in the midst of difficulty, and God IS enough to get me through these last two weeks and make me thrive. He knows what He’s doing.
“And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.”
—Joshua 23:14, ESV