Monday, November 18, 2013

Finding Joy.

This weekend the curtain in Hoke Auditorium rose and fell with three performances of Play On. And as the curtain fell for the very last time, I came to the startling conclusion that I'd grown to really appreciate and enjoy the group of people I'd walked through the last 10 weeks with. In the midst of Herm finals and mid-semester stress, they'd become a reasonably safe place where I could come and pretend to be someone else for a little Bible dictionaries and hard conversations required. A mini-family. Of course, the typical "oh we're gonna hang out still!"s were exchanged, but there's a subtle, unspoken acknowledgement that it won't be the same anymore. And even though it seems like a lesson I'm learning late, I'm beginning to learn that life ebbs and flows in sections, and they can come and go before you ever learn how to fully appreciate them for what they are. 

Sophomore year is hard....probably the hardest year of life I've walked through yet. But I think, as absolutely ridiculous as it sounds, I'm learning to appreciate it for what it is: growth and destruction and joy in the midst of pain and uncomfortability and inconvenience. And I think as I begin to appreciate sophomore year, I'm beginning to realize that though it's my hardest, this might be one of my favorite years yet. 

It has been a year thus far of the Lord re-breaking the bones of my soul that I have allowed to grow back together crookedly and misaligned on their own....and it has been painful and has humbled me time and time again. And it seems weird to think that in the midst of this kind of confusion and questioning of the things I thought I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that there could be joy, and yet there is. 

Because the weaker and more fragile I become, the more aware I become of the over-encompassing, overwhelming strength and power of the Gospel. I've been so guilty of attributing myself the work in my life that so directly falls from the extension of God's grace....I've credited myself with working my way to humility, with teaching myself grace, with loving people well because I just happen to be a compassionate person and it comes easy. And it seems so abnormal to think that I dread all the stress and anxiety and questions and uncertainty ending....but with it comes a daily dependence on Christ that I have never experienced before because if we're being honest I've never realized my need for it before. 

It's strange to think that hardship could be a gift....and yet it is. A gifting and ability to experience God's grace and mercy in ways that I've never had opportunity to before. I fall so often into the temptation of assuming I know the Lord's plan and purpose, and I forget that sometimes the things I point at and say "Lord this is good" aren't, and the things I ask the Lord to take away I shouldn't. 

So here's to joy in the midst of sophomore year, grace that comes in strange wrappings, and the realization AGAIN that I don't even begin to have God figured learning that staying home with a cup of coffee and an open Bible can sometimes bring just as much healing as driving to a people-full building and listening to the discovering that John Mayer really does comprise the perfect study session playlist....and to looking for the Lord in the little things so He is glorified ever more in the bigger ones. 

And here's to all the really jumbled up thoughts coming out of my mind. I don't know if they make sense, but here's hoping that maybe they do :) 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sophomore Study Breaks: "It'll be good one day."

I think I'm just now beginning to realize how much of my life I spend in the future....

Lately life has been rough. Rough on roommates, rough in schoolwork, rough from praying that 10 very busy people can somehow pull together a three act play well enough to get a few chuckles from their friends and family. And usually [and by usually I mean 100% always] when people ask me how I'm doing and I reply "not that great but it's alright", after the pity sighs and the comforting shoulder pats my response is "Yeah....but God's using it. This'll be good one day."

One day as in not now and if not now then......when?

One thing I'm learning to cling to this year is the immutability of God....a fancy, theological term which basically means God doesn't change ever. And if God is all good, all knowing, perfection today, tomorrow and forever, then doesn't that mean that what I'm going through is

Good when it hurts. Good in the midst of tears. Good when I'm frustrated because I don't even know if I have words to write how I'm feeling...which is new for me. Good when I'm empty of all grace and all love. Good when there's no way of knowing how you're growing, only that you are.

I think so often I look at the future and see this vague, fuzzy outline of the woman I might be after all the growth and hardship and patience and I point down the road and say "I wanna be there" and I forget that the way to get there is to be thankful for the hardship that's happening now.

Because as much as we hate it and as much as it hurts, the honest truth is that if hard things never happen, we never ask the hard questions....and if the hard questions don't get asked, then you might grow on the surface but the roots of what you're learning won't get down deep into the heart of who you are. And QUITE honestly, when things are going well, sometimes we forget that it's the Lord that holds everything together and that gets us up in the mornings, and we start to think that maybe, just maybe, we can do this whole life thing on our own.

I had this wonderful picture in my mind of who I wanted to be going into Sophomore year....what I wanted to do with my life, the kind of person I wanted to be, and the kind of person I wanted to marry. To say that God has ripped through that and significantly re-oriented me would be an understatement. And it's hard....really hard. I'm the kind of person who thrives on having a foundation I know won't be shaken....and I also am guilty incredibly often of building that foundation on things of this world that crumble and fall apart all too quickly. And I've complained and whined and stomped my feet before the Lord, but I'm beginning to realize this is good and I'm thankful for it.....and that in this God is being glorified in ways that take me out of the picture completely.

So here's to the "God will use this one day" becoming "God is using this now and I'm blown away by His faithfulness." Maybe this was just rambling, but it's something that's been on my heart a lot lately. And now, to close, enjoy this picture of Charleston. Because it's one of my favorite cities, and because it's absolutely beautiful :)

 Here. Have two :)