Sunday, November 5, 2017

Waiting on the Lord (College Life, Part 4)

Coming back to school in August after a rewarding summer, filled with a mix of challenging and relaxing moments, I was an emotional wreck. Move-in day, just two months ago, was the hardest I have cried, probably since I fell off my bike when I was 6, and that feeling of my world falling beneath me wasn’t much different. I didn’t realize how fresh these emotions would be by merely stepping foot on Cedarville’s campus again. The dread of loneliness was still a prevalent worry in my life. Though my relationship with God had never been stronger from the times I had spent praying through the loneliness, I was faced with an entire year that would either go extremely well or be a mirror image of the previous year, the latter of which I was dreading.
Flashforward to this moment, I can say with a peaceful heart that God has blessed this semester more than I could imagine. Not only was my fear of loneliness swiftly erased by my incredible friends, but God showed Himself to me more vividly and passionately than I had ever seen Him before. Christ touched my heart so deeply that He physically forced me to my knees very early on in the semester, taking my relationship with Him to an entirely different place than it had been before.  Little did I know that Christ was preparing me for a semester full of hard lessons, some I knew that I had to learn, and others that completely blindsided me. Though God has been putting me through a lot of emotional uncertainty this semester, He has helped me grow more than I could imagine. God has put me face to face with my pride and impatience, teaching me that I will forever be working through things I thought I had tackled, showing me the beauty of sanctification.
Though I have found this process to be beautiful, it is, to be brutally honest, excruciating at times. The desire for a relationship has been stronger in me this semester than it has ever been, and the presence of that desire, along with God teaching me patience, has been incredibly difficult. A few weeks ago, I was desperately trying to differentiate between what God was telling me and what I wanted to hear. That night felt like the match of the century, where my worldly desires and the Holy Spirit were having it out with each other. All I wanted was to explain to God that I wanted a boyfriend, my heart aching for that next step, and all God was trying to tell me was to “Just wait, and it’ll be perfect.” Those few words simultaneously felt like a stab to my heart and a relief to the soul. He combined my emotions of desiring a relationship with my desire to grow closer to Him, showing me in His simple, perfect way, that He has my best intentions at heart.

To be incredibly honest, this process has and still continues to hurt, but I know that this process is a transition in my life. Though I would prefer this transition to hopefully result in a relationship, I know that Christ has my heart in His hands. Even though I know he will continue to mold and make my heart into what He wants it to be, He will never drop it.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Loneliness (College Life, Part 3)

    As I sit here one week into summer break, I am beginning to reminisce about my last year of college. Specifically, my last semester of college. My most recent semester of being a student at Cedarville University looks, in my mind, so different from the first that it is almost startling. My first semester was bright, shiny, and exciting, whereas the latest felt scary and daresay depressing at some points. Now, before I tread any further into such a dark topic, bear in mind that I do not take any of my college experiences for granted and am in no way unhappy with life, but it is something I feel led to discuss.
     As many people say, college has changed me immensely. Within the past year, I have learned more about myself than I ever imagined possible, and am eternally grateful for it…most days. In that minuscule percentage of days where I am not grateful for it is where the depressing and lonely side of things comes into play. This past semester I came into school bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to conquer a fresh new semester. I was excited because I knew that I had friends to come back to, and was thrilled that I had people to do things with right off the bat, without having the pressure of meeting tons of new people within a week, like I had experienced the previous semester. However, just weeks into my second semester, I realized that the next couple of months were not going to be as easy as I had imagined, or as I had hoped. My friends were not what I had imagined they would be. You see, over Christmas break, I had created these people in my mind that were going to be at college just to fill me up, and to be there when I wanted to have fun, and I didn’t stop to think that things would be any different. 
     Throughout the last four months, which felt like an eternity at times, I felt the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. I saw my closest friends deciding to go off on their own adventures without me, and I quickly learned how to brave an excited face for them when they came back to tell me all about it, but deep inside, my heart was breaking. During these times of heartbreak, that felt so severe in the moment, I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong, or why people didn’t want me as a friend, when all I wanted to do was please them. What I slowly began to discover, was that I was unintentionally putting the pressure of my own happiness on mere humans, people who are 100% unable to make me happy. 
     Praise God that He put me through this past semester full of these life lessons, because without them, it would have taken me so much longer to realize that my happiness comes from God. Without Him, this semester would have been so much harder than it already was, in those moments. All of this being said, it still tinges a bit in my heart when I’m excluded from things, but that is the way life is. It is so humbling to come to the conclusion on my own that life is 100% completely and utterly not about me. In those times where I feel alone, it is God reminding me that I need to be spending time with Him, and strengthening our relationship way more than I need to be strengthening an earthy relationship that should only be Christ-focused anyway. As this summer faces me straight on without the multitude of amazing friends that I have made at Cedarville, I am sure that some nights I will be sad that they aren’t here to laugh and pray with, but I am even more sure of God’s faithfulness to be with me, because He is all I need. With this being said, I encourage all those feeling lonely to reach out to God, because He will always be there to hold your hand.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Staying Alert Over Christmas Break (College Life, Part 2)

     In the blink of an eye, my first semester of the 4-year university experience is over, and the new year has been rung in during  Christmas break. My time at college this past semester is such a curious thing to look back at, because the moment of saying goodbye to my parents before they drove back home feels like eons ago. However, the long nights of studying until the wee hours of the morning, spontaneous trips to get pizza, and movies nights, seem so near that I could reach out and touch them. The notion of time has become distorted in my mind. It is as though I have two separate worlds that I have been traveling between in the past four months, and trying to imagine myself in one of the worlds while I'm residing in the other seems impossible. It's an incredible thing, that in just under six months, I have experienced the emotions of heavily anticipating being out of the house, relishing my freedom (and then  feeling the pressure when I must rely on my own judgement when making decisions), to counting down the days that I can finally be back at home to rest my mind and enjoy the company of my parents.
     Something I have been acutely aware of throughout these breaks is how much my guard goes down when I feel the welcome embrace of being home. Before the student body was sent off on Thanksgiving break, there was a chapel message that heavily resounded with me. The main point? That the Devil often chooses to attack the most heavily over breaks when guards are let down. You see, for the most part, all of the students on campus have chapel every single weekday, 5 times a week, 20 times a month, get the idea. On top of this incredible resource of chapel, there are bible classes, and an incredible spiritual atmosphere. With this said, once I am home, though my family still fears God, I get the feeling that I don't have to continue my daily devotions because I'm on such a spiritual high. However, I've noticed that when my daily devotions stop, my urge to listen to Christian music begins to dim, and when that happens, my prayer life begins to slack. It's like Jenga. When one of the blocks is taken out, the tower becomes shaky, and once a few more are removed, the whole thing collapses.
     Though I have this knowledge of what happens over break, I don't always follow through with my hopes to stay on top of my devotions, etc. With that said, the continuation of my devotions, no matter where I am, has become one of my two New Years resolutions. The other? To cultivate the relationships I already have, and to plant the seeds of new ones. One of my biggest lessons of 2016 is that God is always there, and it is His children that stray from His side, though it may sometimes feel as if it is He that has left.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

College Life, Part 1

     After six weeks of classes now already behind me, I feel like my very first college semester is just flying by. It is absolutely astonishing to me how many memories I have already made in such a short period of time, and how many friendships are already starting to grow, not to mention the great friendship that is coming out of an amazing roommate situation that could have only come from God.  
   My lack of sleep is being made up for by the amount of activities that I am able to fill my free time with, including listening to amazing speakers who want nothing more than the share the word of Jesus Christ, hall activities that include late-night trips get ice cream (yum!), and even a new discipleship group where we'll be studying the book of James all year long. With all of these exciting and intriguing activities, there is also no shortage of studying, which is obviously to be expected. Though some classes are more exciting than others, I am learning so much from each of them. This semester I have the wonderful opportunity to be taking three major-specific classes, all of which are already preparing me for my future, and affirming my choice in Management.
     Currently, my favorite class that I am taking is Business Law, much to my mom's surprise. In my experience, enjoying classes depend on not the material being taught, but the one teaching the material, and this class just happens to have both of those categories going for it. With my love for crime shows still in full effect, and my sense of humor the way it is, this class seems to be made for me. The professor is one of the best I've had, for he not only is well-versed in law, but he knows how to teach to students, by providing relatable examples and slipping in humor that makes even the most uptight students laugh out loud. Though I don't see myself switching my major to law because of this class, I have certainly gained a fresh love for learning which has expanded to my other five classes.
     I knew that college would greatly impact myself in the way I see the world, but I never knew how much it would impact my personality (for the better) and my way of thinking, especially this quickly. I am so grateful for this experience, and I can only thank God for getting me here to pursue not only a future for myself, but, more importantly, pursue Him with more and more of my heart everyday.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

My Driving Experience

     In my lifetime, I have been lucky enough to not have had a lot of terrifying experiences. I have not those fight-or-flight times where instinct completely takes over, or where my nerves and adrenaline would race 1000 times per second. Because of my lack of these experiences, I find life's small tests to be more difficult than most, I'm assuming. For example, when I attended speech class, now almost a year ago, the entire week leading up to my speeches were full of anxiety, stress, and sleepless nights. Now, I'm sure that those with extreme test anxiety will know exactly what I'm talking about, the feeling that you just might die if and when the time comes that you actually have to go and prove yourself. Well, since that class, I've been fortunate enough not to have had that incredibly anxious feeling, at least, up until last week.
     Last week, I had a sleepless night full of tossing and turning, only broken up by nightmares, that led up to my dreaded road test. Now you're probably thinking that one sleepless night doesn't seem like much, and it's not. However, the countless nights that I haven't been able to sleep that have been scattered over the past two years, have been too much.
     To give you all a bit of backstory, I started my driver's ED classes when I was 16, the age that most people expected me to already have my license. I went into these classes with an apparent fear of driving, but hopeful that stepping my foot into the world of independent driving would ease my fear. Fortunately, my driver's ED class proved to be just that: an experience that was full of learning, real-world driving experience, and even an added bonus of having a great friend as a driving buddy. I was enjoying everything about driving, even if I wouldn't remember to breathe throughout my hour and a half sessions. Obviously, something had to change between now and then, of course, or there would be no story to tell.
     On my final driving day with my driving instructor, the day that we were to tackle the highway and parking, that initial fear kicked back in, and even harder than before. To make me feel even better about myself, the fear was not only not triggered by the fast-paced highway, but instead, it was parking. I found parking so ridiculously difficult, more specifically, reverse parking so difficult, that even my driving instructor decided after 15 minutes of me attempting and failing, that maybe it was time to move on, because we were running out of the lesson's time. From then on, my mom would have to physically sit me down in the driver's seat of our car and lovingly, but firmly, make me drive to school, because without that push, I would do anything to avoid the scariest place in the world: the open road. This fear and hastily avoiding driving at any chance I got, continued for the following two years, until June of this year.
     My way of thinking was getting to a point where I realized that I only had a few months left of summer until I went off to college, and it was time. So, for the following two months, I practiced my driving skills, and hard, at that. Anywhere my mom needed driven for errands, I was her personal chauffeur. Pushing through my fear was very difficult, but the inner push of racing before a deadline was my inner motivation. I didn't want to be that one girl at college that still didn't have her license.
Soon enough, my road test did come, and the thought of that test was scary. On a Monday morning, I showed up to the testing site, knowing very well that this was either going to be the best day of my life, or the most embarrassing.
     The parking portion of my test came first, and I knew that if I could pass this section, the section that re-instilled my fear of driving, then I would easily pass the road portion. "Here we go," I thought. "it's now or never." Seconds later, in my side mirror, the worst happened...I knocked over a cone on the dreaded reverse parking. I had just practiced this before we came, so I was absolutely gutted that I hadn't been able to accurately show my skills. Next was parallel parking, something that I had always done very well on. And again, I hit two cones. The feeling in my stomach was miserable. I knew I had failed, so as the examiner came around to speak to me, I was preparing for the worst. However, when I rolled down the window, the woman smiled and said that I had passed the portion and that we were to begin the road test. My mind was in a blur! I knew the parking portion had allowed for some errors, but I thought I had done too badly to continue. From then on, the actual road test went even smoother than I had hoped, so thirty minutes later, after I pulled back into the testing site, I was able to ecstatically give my mom the great news: I passed my driving test! I was able to go to the DMV that day to apply for my license, and a week later, I received my shiny new license in the mail.
     I am proof that even if you're scared, whether it be as specific as my fear of the road test, or just a test in general, you can push through that fear and make it out the other side. There is always going to be another test that life hands you, so do your best to get through them. And, if you fail, take it again. You'll make it through to the other side, and when you do, you'll be a stronger person for it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Struggling to Find Humility

     Life lessons always seem to sneak up on me when I’m least expecting them, but when I need them the most. Now that I’m 18, I clearly have learned everything there is to learn, and my life’s task is no longer to be a sponge to all the incoming information, but rather sacrifice myself to those who need the advice I have so intellectually attained. If you have not picked up on my sarcasm by now, be assured that it is heavily prevalent.
     Though I would love to sit back and say that I’ve never felt this high-and-mighty air, I must admit, that in certain situations, this thought has crossed my mind. When I see someone struggling with a situation I’ve already experienced and have found my way through, I take it upon myself to spend the next twenty minutes lecturing about what should be done, and what shouldn’t.
     It is so easy to think we know everything just based off of a handful of situations where we’ve been able to help a friend through a rough time, or even a stranger in passing. However, the second I was presented with a situation I had no idea how to handle, I immediately fell back into the “sponge stage”, just like I referenced earlier. My pride has repeatedly taken hits from the multiple times I’ve had to re-learn this lesson. “Surely,” I have thought, “now that I’ve attained a college degree there is nothing else to learn.” This reasoning of having nothing else to learn, I have found, is unfortunate for a couple of reasons that I will list in a short and sweet manner: there is, and it would be no fun.
     This post is no more for my readers than it is for myself. I find there is always something about myself that I’m working on, and humility often finds itself at the top of my to-do list. I have a feeling that once I find myself in college in less than a month, this virtue will not be as difficult to control.
     If anyone else finds themselves struggling with this, I will leave you with this verse.

    “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” – Ephesians 4:2

Friday, July 1, 2016

Generation Blues

     Until last week, I had never stepped foot in an antique store without my mom pulling me along with her, and if it wasn't for a friend, that would still be the case. As I walked around the shop, I didn't take much notice of the random objects that were being sold, but rather the other customers looking over all of the good deals. It didn't take long for me to notice that every other customer in the store not only didn't resemble moms pulling their teens around with them, but rather, the teens were there without their moms. While I was helping my friend look through the old records, I took notice of the other teens who were looking through the racks of clothes from previous decades, even shopping for dishes with that lovely, colorful '70s print, and while I did so, it made me think that antique stores are no longer just made for mothers and grandmothers. Instead, they are quickly becoming the trend for my own generation.
     Maybe this has only just begun, or maybe I'm only now noticing it. Regardless, I find it interesting that so many people who have access to all the current trends, choose to disregard the them, and choose from those of previous generations. It seems to me that more and more teens are looking back at past decades, trying to find something completely new, something that no one has ever found before, and make it their own. Now, whether it is for inner gratification, or to prove to their peers that they aren't the stereotypical, cookie-cutter teens, it can't be denied that they are searching. One of the biggest examples of this is ten years ago, a teen was typically only familiar with record albums if their parents had their own collection, and now, I wouldn't be surprised if a teen's collection surpasses their parents'.
     We are searching for something that has been hidden, something that maybe if we look hard enough in enough antique shops, or fall down a deep enough rabbit hole in eBay, a void in our lives will be filled by finding that one object that no one else knows about. I feel like I have been seeing small pieces of this idea come to life for years, but if it wasn't for this quote that I will leave you with today, it may never have dawned on me that there will never be an old enough antique shop holding the perfect item.

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” - C.S. Lewis