To the fighter

Dear fighter,

It might seem like many doors are closing around you. It might not make sense why you were attached to something that didn’t pan out the way you wanted it to. But I hope you give yourself grace for all the vulnerability you’ve been stepping into. I’m proud of you for stepping out into the unknown despite the uncertainty. I’m proud of you for willing to risk being hurt in the name of following the Lord with everything you have. Not many could do what you do. Not many are as passionate as you. There are things about you that are so unique to you. There are people you are going to reach that only you can reach. I want you to know that everything you are is a gift. You are not too much. You are not too little. You’re exactly who you’re supposed to be.

I know that it is hard to see what is on the other side of your uncertainties. I know it is hard to press into this season of waiting, watching things fall into your friends’ laps and wondering if there is anything left for you. I wish I could tell you what you will be doing this summer. I don’t know. I’m not God. But I can tell you that God knows you better than you know yourself. He knows what you need more than you know what you need. What you will be doing this summer, or this year, or next year, will be more than you could’ve ever dreamed possible. It may be different from what you thought. If it’s not what you hoped for at first, I know it will be easy to assume that God isn’t as faithful as you know He is. But please, please remember that when we get caught up in what we thought things should be, we miss the beauty of what really is. Don’t let these years slip by always wishing for the next thing to happen. You’ll never be content that way.

I know a lot of things have been thrown at you in the last few weeks. I know you are fighting to stay positive and stay rooted in your faith. I want to remind you that what you are feeling does not make you weak. What you are feeling is so valid. Just because you feel drained does not mean you did something wrong. You were doing the best you could with what you had at the time. You have permission to feel. You have permission process hectic swamp of life transitions and unknown pieces to your story. Remember that you can be completely surrendered to the Lord and feel uncomfortable simultaneously. Remember that the miracle of peace you have is not because the waves and winds have let down, but because you are rooted in a God who will not let you drown.

Do you remember where you were a year ago? You have been in this place before. You have grown. You are handling the waters differently. The things that used to consume you can’t anymore. You know how to fight this battle. You know how to respond to your thoughts. You are learning to feel what you feel rather than trying to numb out the world. And your joy is so evident in the midst of the journey. Do you remember all the things you weren’t sure would work out, but now are all steady truths in your life? In case you forgot, make a list. God was faithful then, He will be faithful now.

I know that there is a friendship in your life where you don’t feel fully known. You feel like you are given no room in that relationship to be the bubbly, loud, outgoing, sensitive, and deep person you are and that this friendship swallows you and makes you feel small. I want you to know that there are things about you that many people could never begin to understand, because there is just so much fruit to your life. You don’t have to make yourself small for anyone. A true friend will understand that. And as you muster up the courage to tell the truth, you have permission to set healthy boundaries for yourself and keep the distance you need. You have permission to take care of yourself and not be as vulnerable with this person as they want you to. But at the same time, I hope you are always asking the Lord what He says about this friend, and that you are not giving into lies that are going to tear apart one of the most meaningful friendships you may have in your life. That you are open to this friend stretching you despite your doubts.

You are loved and cherished by those around you regardless of what you achieve, regardless of the season you’re in, and regardless of whether you feel broken or whether you feel whole. You are a safe person for people to process their heartaches and traumas late at night. You help people see the beauty around them that they easily miss. You are a mentor and a friend, and you reach out to people in ways the world could not comprehend. You’ve been told by many that you have a gift for talking to people, and it is because you are sensitive, bold, and open. You can connect deeply with practically everyone. You are one of the few that don’t only surround yourself with people who look like you. Do you remember all the miracles and encounters you’ve had with people that had nothing to do with your abilities and everything to do with your heart? That’s a gift.

It’s a gift that is more meaningful than any external ability you have. You do everything from that place of love, and that’s what matters most. You are fighting with weapons unseen to show the world the love that is constantly transforming your life. You’re not doing this for marks or letters but to see healing and restoration in the lives of those who encounter you. You may not know exactly what you’re supposed to be doing, but I can assure you that your heart is in the right place.

Every day you wake up and choose to face the world, you are choosing strength. Every day you press into what you are feeling, you are learning to feel with the Lord. Every day you choose to have hope and keep trying, you are building resilience that’s going to bless you in the long run. And every day you feel you might not make it, you are covered with overwhelming grace. You are doing the best you can at your current level of awareness. You deserve the deep breath you’ve been needing to take. I know the list of things to do is always piling up, but you are free to take each day as slow as you need to.

And you know all of these things are true. But you are tired. So today, you are free to rest as much as you need to. Sleep as much as you have to. And rest assured that you are enough as you are. That God will strengthen you to fight the battles you’re in. All you can do each day is your best, and it’s okay if your strength looks a little different than the trail-blazing hero in this season. It’s okay if your joy might look a little different too. You haven’t lost it. Keep fighting. Keep going. And let the amount of hope that ignites your soul from within light a path of endless grace.

You are here because this world needed everything you are at this exact time and place. And you are worth fighting for.

~

I am so tired. It’s been an excruciatingly vulnerable two weeks. From a phone interview, to getting the job I wanted, to having to turn it down because it didn’t work out, to getting test scores back, and studying like ham for finals, I am a little burned out.

I allowed myself to feel it. I started sleeping a lot more than normal. I pulled back from the relationship that was causing me to fall back into old thought patterns. I spent more time with people who were safe, like my bio buddy Jasman, my roomie, and my super bubbly friend Priscilla. The last thing you want in a season of depression is someone who will try to give you a ton of advice about how to live your life or point it back on to themselves. What you want is someone to validate you and feel your pain.

I woke up for the phone interview where I explicitly expressed how much I wanted that job but how I didn’t think it was what God wanted anymore. The people were so nice and I knew how encouraged they were by hearing the heart of this random 18 year old gal who wanted to work in a ministry for teens that have been through trauma. I don’t know why that interview sucked the life out of me, but I went to lecture crying afterwards. I had been applying for jobs for the past 2 months, and the one I wanted was probably not going to work out. My friend Jasman was the first person to really validate everything I was feeling. We talked it out and then spent some time in the botanical conservatory decompressing, and she prayed for me before she left for her next class. I was so, so thankful for her.

The next day I was about ready to stop trying in school, and then I met Priscilla during lab.

“How did the chem test go?” I asked her.

“Not too well, but it’s okay!!” She said. “How about you?”

“It didn’t go as well as I thought, but I still ended up getting an A with the curve.”

“Let’s go!!” She high-fived me enthusiastically.

“I knew literally everything I got wrong so I was pretty upset,” I said.

“But, you still got an A.”

“Yeah,” I nodded slowly. “I did.”

“How was bio?” I asked her.

“It was better!” She said with a huge smile. “Did you do well?”

“I didn’t do as well as I thought. I’m barely holding a B in the class. I didn’t get one of the extra credit questions so it messed a lot up—” I started

“But, you got one of them!” She said.

“Yeah,” I nodded slowly. “I did get one of them.”

“See?” She said. She gave me a huge hug. That girl. What even.

I’m normally the positive one. But I was slipping a little this week. Being positive all the time is really, really hard and exhausting.

But here this girl was. She worked just as hard as I did. We studied together a lot. She didn’t do as well in chem as she deserved to for how much she studied, yet she was still in the game. She wasn’t giving up. She wasn’t getting depressed. She wasn’t allowing it to ruin anything. She was clearly scared for the final, but she hadn’t lost heart. She hadn’t lost hope.

I texted her later that day. “Hey! I was actually having kind of a hard time being positive today. But then I saw you still choosing to fight despite your circumstances. If you can do it, I can do it. So thank you.”

“Omg Lea! You always inspire me so much to trust in the Lord with my faith! I love you girl! We can do this!!”

We always pray before our tests. A few weeks ago, one of our friends who wasn’t a believer was super nervous. I asked her if she wanted to pray with us. She nodded profusely, and then said she didn’t know how to pray. I assured her it was fine. We held hands outside of the classroom and prayed before our exam.

Before our bio exam, Jasman and I prayed as well. And as my roommate was leaving for her chem midterm, I was like, “Wait! Can I pray for you before you go?”

And I think we’re missing the point a little if we’re praying before everything and then getting mad when when everything doesn’t go our way. If you want God to do His will, it’s probably not going to look like what you thought.

So are you fighting for what you think something should be like or for what God actually wants for you?

God, why did you drop that job from the sky if I was just going to invest so much time dreaming about it to have to say no? I asked Him.

So far, the answer I’ve been hearing is, “I just wanted to see if you’d be obedient.”

“And what’s the point in that?” I asked.

They sent me an email saying they still really wanted to hire me and to let them know if I changed my mind. I gave myself the weekend to make sure I was making the right decision, and then kindly emailed them Monday morning that I could not take the offer.

“Thank you for letting us know and please keep us in mind in the future. You are always welcome here,” she replied. Maybe this was a seed being planted for later. Nothing ever goes to waste.

But what do I do now? I asked God.

Just wait and see.

Shortly after turning down that job, the coordinator of a tutoring and college counseling center close to my high school replied a day after I reached out to her. She said she’d love to meet with me to talk more about tutoring with them and asked me when I was free. I was like, what? This job was in my hometown and I would get to set my own hours and meet with students one on one in their own homes, which meant it would work with my EMT class, and this organization emphasizes mentorship and whole person tutoring, which aligned with how I tutored anyways. I don’t know why the other job came up if it wasn’t meant to be, but I have an interview the Monday I get home for this one. Thank you God. I knew you were faithful.

This is my last week of college. I have finals and then I have to pack up my dorm. I don’t think I can do this to be honest. I hope I make it through alive.

But I can feel the Lord so near through every practice final and day I embark on. “Are you ready?” He’s saying.

“Yes,” I say.

Our yes always counts. Wherever you’re at, when you say yes to the Lord regardless of what you’re feeling, you can already declare the battle won.

And I can almost feel him taking my hand and saying, “Okay. Let’s do this.”

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Perhaps even here, you are growing.

Tuesday, May 14th

During my contact improv class, I was paired with a guy who was tall and much stronger than I am. The improv task began, and he kept finding ways to pick up my 5’2, petite body and gently put me on his shoulders. Or he would flip me upside down, or scoop me up normally, or support me as I did a back-bend over his back, or pick me up by the side and spin me around. I don’t know how to describe this trust and touch based unconventional style of dance called contact improv. It’s so weird. It always has me out of my comfort zone, but it’s spontaneity has grown on me and I love it now. With this new partner there were times I felt like I was riding a turtle, while other times I thought I was flying. Each successful and unsuccessful lift left both of us laughing so hard.

It made me think about how God carries us. Sometimes in the waiting it feels like I’m riding a turtle. Other times as I embark the unknown I feel like I’m flying. There are no bad seasons— just a girl following Jesus the best she can with her current level of awareness. It’s not always easy. But it’s always good.

~

Something I am learning: if your life is producing good fruit, then it’s a good season. It’s up to you how you look at it. As a student, I can fear for my life before every midterm I have. Or, as I am studying for a thousand-million hours a day, I can choose to rejoice in the process because I am learning how to learn and growing in resilience and knowledge about concepts that nobody might care about, but God still created them. After all, if the elements in my buffer reaction problems are praising the Lord at whatever pH I find them to be at, I might as well praise the Lord to. Can you tell I had a chemistry midterm this week?

But it’s a journey. Praise is a journey.

Last week I took a practice midterm for biology and literally got more questions wrong than I got right. At that point in time I figured I was probably just going to fail the class because I don’t know how to take a bio test.

The following day an upperclassman, Carina, offered to help me study. I swiped her in the dining hall and then afterwards she stayed with me for three hours making sure I could answer every learning goal from every lecture. She had me writing every definition possible on the board and drawing cycles so many times.

“I hate your teacher and I don’t even have him,” she told me as she looked through the vague learning goals.

“He’s actually a really kind guy,” I said, laughing.

She fought with me. I believed I was naturally terrible at bio, but she believed I just needed to think about things differently. She’d ask me a question, I’d say I didn’t know, and then—

“You literally just said it!” She said.

“What?”

“The underlying thermodynamic principle! You just explained it to me.”

“I don’t know what he means. I said the energy from the redox reactions are coupled to drive the endergonic proton gradient.”

“That’s all it is!”

“Oh. I thought he meant something else.”

“What do thermodynamics deal with?”

“Transferring of energy?” I said slowly.

She gave me a total mom look.

“Yes! And what you said has to do with energy transferring. Lea! You need to get out of your head. This is just bio! Don’t over complicate every question you see!”

So we discovered I wasn’t that stupid. I knew a lot more than I thought.

When we finished, it was about 10:30p.m. She was waiting for her ride so we went up to my dorm and sang some worship songs and talked about Jesus. Carina was such a gentle, smart, passionate person who really modeled dependence on the Lord, and I was beyond encouraged by the fact that someone would actually set aside three hours for me to teach me how to study. I never thought someone would do that for me. I felt so loved.

Maybe I won’t fail this class after all.

~

The next day I lead small group. Someone volunteered to pray and then we got started.

“Alrighty! I want you guys to make a list of all the things you want to see God do in your life,” I said.

“Like right now or in general?”

“Either.”

“Is there a maximum?”

“Nope! Just whatever you can. You guys can start.” I set a timer. “Also, while you’re doing it, I want you to notice any doubts that come up.”

A few minutes later, I asked, “How is everyone doing?” Everyone nodded. “Alrighty, anyone want to share?”

We all went around and shared.

“Okay! So basically, the purpose of today is to look at what the Bible says about the doubts we face and how we can battle them.”

We looked at my favorite bible verses. The first section we read was in the beginning of James where it talks about why we shouldn’t doubt. People shared openly about the spiritual battles they were currently in. The second passage we read was 2nd Corinthians 10:5.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

After everyone shared their thoughts on the passage, I said, “Yeah! So a lot of you have been talking about how you want cling more to truth. And I love this verse. I love it because it’s basically saying that we have this readily available tool to fight our battles. Every time a thought comes into our heads that is negative, we have the authority to attach truth to it. When you hear ‘I’m not good enough,'” I snapped, “Nope, God created me fearfully and wonderfully made. When you hear, ‘I’m not strong enough,’ you can be like nope, I know I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

“A few other things I want to leave you with before we go into the last passage. God overwhelms what overwhelms you. Your doubt can’t overtake you. Also, the fact that we have the tools to fight our battles gives us so much hope. It’s so easy to give up when the thoughts just come attacking and we feel like we can’t do anything about it. But according to scripture, we have the tools to live above the storm and not let it consume us. And that is just so awesome.”

We turned to Isaiah 43:19 to finish up the night.

“See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland…”

I asked them a few more questions and my group shared their thoughts. And then we finished up the night.

“So we looked at what the Bible said about doubt first in James. And then we looked at how we can combat it. And now I wanted to end with this because this is a promise, and it’s a truth you can cling to and use to combat the doubts you have.”

I prayed for the group and then we broke up into even smaller groups and shared what we wanted God to do in our lives, and prayed over one another. We spoke truth into each other’s doubts. It was literally the best thing ever.

~

The following week was even more crazy. Do you know that feeling when you do 30 things super awesome but like four things wrong, but then you can only think about the four things that went wrong?

That’s how my chemistry midterm went. And then one after another, the mistakes began piling. Missed a reading. Forgot to do a homework quiz. I never do that. I have my stuff done so early normally.

I was waiting. Waiting for this job to contact me back. My whole community was praying for me, and had been praying for the last few weeks. I had never been so hopeful and confused at the same time. I was confused because God dropped this ministry job tutoring teens that have been through trauma at a Christian boarding school from the sky in the sea of academic research positions I’d been looking at. I was hopeful because it seemed impossible for it to work out, but I believed in a God of miracles.

“A little word of advice,” Carina had told me in the dining hall the previous week. “The desires of our hearts are usually from God, so He wouldn’t just put that there to take it away and tease you. But however, having seen both sides of the coin, sometimes God has you in that dream place for a period of time and then the next year you’re packing your bags.” Carina had an amazing story about how she came to Davis, but ended up leaving after her freshman year as God had taken her for a detour. She had just recently came back as a junior transfer. There were many questions in that time, but now nobody can doubt that the timing was perfect.

I got an interview. I freaked out. They actually wanted to interview me. I was scared they wouldn’t even contact me back. I emailed them back some practical questions about the location of the interview and the job.

And then I found out the job wasn’t located in my home town, but a good two hours away.

Freaking out, I asked again to clarify the location. I swore the listing I applied for was in my home town.

“We put listings all over because our resident advisors will have to live on campus or close to campus in order to do the job. Let me know if you still want the interview,” she said.

Does God just hand us things and then take them away? If so, it’s definitely not to purposely tease us. I was heartbroken. It wasn’t what I thought. If this job was meant to be, I’d have to leave everything behind for it so I could live there.

After walking with the Lord for so long, I’ve been used to him ruining my plans. The unknown just got many feet deeper, and I could feel my whole body about to be submerged in the water.

“LEANNA,” I texted my mentor. “Can I call you?”

“Of course!”

I called her.

“Hey Lea! How are you doing?” She said, gently.

“Hey. I’m doing good. You know that job I asked if I could use you as a pastoral reference for?”

“Yeah!”

“So I got an interview. But I found out it’s not in Sacramento.”

“Where is it?”

“Modesto.”

“Oh. Dang.”

“Yeah. So now I’m like knee deep in the unknown, because either this job isn’t the right one and I have to find another one or it is the right one and I’m supposed to drop everything and go work there.” I explained to her how they gave me an interview, but how I wasn’t sure what to do anymore. It seemed like such a God thing in the moment but it turned out to be different from what I thought.

“Mmm. Well, sometimes it’s not always about the result. Sometimes God just has us do things to see if we’ll be obedient.”

“Yeah. I was thinking that too. The act of stepping out in obedience regardless of whether or not it will work out is so much more important than the result. I’m used to the feeling of being straight in the unknown, it just sucks.”

“Well an interview never hurt anyone. It might just be a good experience just to talk to people who work in ministry. It’s okay to be honest. Tell them you’re a student and would only be working there for the summer. See what they think. It’s not a closed door yet— and like you said, you’re summer just might be different from what you thought.” she said.

“I never thought I’d ever even consider a job in ministry,” I said, laughing.

“What do you mean?” The minister said, laughing.

“I don’t know. I always thought I was going to do something super academic. But this job, I wanted it so badly. I wanted it because it was so meaningful to me. And ministry is like one of the hardest jobs ever, but being surrounded by academia my whole life I never thought ministry was even an option.”

I could feel her smiling through the phone. “Lea, I just love that he’s using this to open up your heart.”

We caught up a little more, and my heart was so full.

“Thank you so much for letting me call you,” I told her.

“Of course Lea! Anytime. When are you home again?”

“Just 3 more weeks!”

~

Even here, you are growing.

In the waiting, you are growing. When things are going amazing, you are growing. Every day you are learning to breathe a little deeper and love a little more.

Where you were in another season, that person was doing the best they could with what they knew. That person was not unworthy of love. That person was just as worthy of love as you are right now.

Perhaps even here, in the deepest of unknowns, you are growing. You are free to wait here and be present in this moment while simultaneously having hope for the future. You are free to press into the God of provision, and know that He knows exactly what we need all the time. There is grace for every step you take and every mistake you make. There is hope for something greater every day you wake.

Sometimes the journey might seem slow. Other times it might seem like you’re flying. But here, wherever you are, where your life is producing good fruit, is exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Deeply Rooted

The last two weeks have been crazy. You know when you are in a really good place and then a bunch of things come flying at you that you weren’t expecting? I relate a lot to this verse right now:

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” -2nd Corinth. 7-9

Some things I am learning:

1. It is possible to be in the middle of an unknown and have hope for the future while simultaneously living mindfully in the present.

2. You are not weak for needing time to rest.

3. You can have peace and joy flowing throughout your whole being and be a complete mess at the same time.

4. It is far more important to lean into the fruit the season of our life is producing in the process rather than worrying about outcomes we can’t control.

5. If this season of your life is producing fruit, fruit that is deepening your relationship with the Lord, then you’re probably right where you’re supposed to be.

I look back at these 2 messy weeks, but then I see all the fruit this season is producing. And I’m grateful.

~

Integrity.

We had this insane chemistry midterm. I thought it was extremely hard. When I found out I got an 87%, I was so ecstatic. It was a literal miracle. I had studied so much over the course of 2 weeks, and the peace I had in the whole process was already enough for me to be content with whatever the outcome was. It became more surreal when I found out the class average was a 57%, and that the cutoff for an A was a 76%. It became extremely surreal when I found out I was five points off from the highest score in the class. Praise the Lord. There was no way that was me. 

Then, I got my test back. I immediately noticed that the score on my test was 4 points lower than what was in the grade book. I froze. My T.A was telling people to turn their test back in if it was wrong. I went through the test again, counting up all the points. Yep, I totally got more points than I deserved. 

My heart began to race. I stuck my actual score into my calculator, and it was still a solid 9% above what I needed to cross the threshold for an A. If that was the original score I had seen, I would’ve thought it was just as much of a miracle. I would’ve been just as happy. But for some reason a few points less seemed to make it less worthy, less of a miracle, when going from an A to less of an A didn’t make that much of a difference in the long run.

“I’d just keep it,” My lab partner said. My mind began to race. Do I give it back and have integrity but be stupid, or keep it and be smart? What was more important to me?

I’m going to do this right. I showed it to my T.A who gave me very little sympathy. She said she would make sure it was right, and I dropped my test in the re-grade pile. A wave of sadness rushed over me, and I wasn’t sure why I felt so bad about doing the right thing.

The next day I saw that my T.A took off the points. I thought choosing integrity was supposed to make you feel like a hero or something. But it made me feel so terrible.

~

What was a lot more cool than acing my chemistry midterm was how I reacted to trashing my bio midterm. I saw the 67% and for the first time I didn’t spiral out of control in anxiety and start striving again. Instead, I went to my professor’s office hours and looked over what I did wrong. He was kind and made such a huge effort to help me understand how he wrote his tests and gave many helpful tips. I was still at peace for some reason. I guess I have grown. I had so much hope that taking multiple choice tests that are conceptual and tricky was something I could learn, even if I naturally couldn’t. And if I didn’t master that ability in my freshman year of college, that was completely okay. I was doing the best I could. And I was building resilience.

Saturday morning, I left for Santa Cruz for an all girls retreat. We had worship on the beach, devotionals, more worship, a bonfire, a lot of games, and a ton of prayer circles. I kept finding myself in prayer circles where people were struggling with anxiety.

My heart was heavy for the girl who could barely concentrate in class, the girl who felt like there were too many things on her plate, and the girl who couldn’t seem to stop comparing herself to others.

“Dear God,” I prayed over and over again, “I pray that you would give my friend so much hope. Hope that it isn’t always going to be like this. I pray you would give her the tools to fight these battles, that every time a thought comes in her head that is negative, that she would be so rooted in truth that those thoughts cannot overtake her. I thank you that anxiety will never ruin her life God, that it will never stop her from doing the amazing things you have in store for her, and that as she falls deeper and deeper in love with you, her thoughts will begin to align with yours. That you would show her how to be a survivor and not a victim. That you would show her how you are with her as she fights these battles. I pray for supernatural peace to flow through her life, that she would know that her thoughts don’t define her, but you define her God…”

We continued to pray and declare truth over one another. It’s not that anxiety has completely left me. I still feel it when someone cuts me off in a bike circle. I still panicked when I had ten-minutes left to do a free response question on my bio midterm. The thought of being stupid did come up when I missed a pre-lab quiz and forgot to do a pre-lecture reading. It just doesn’t cause me to spiral. I feel tired, but it doesn’t cause me to lose my peace. I don’t feel it on the scale that I used to. Some days are harder than others to put one foot in front of the other, but even when I’m dying of allergies I have so much hope. I can feel the freedom in the midst of the unknown. I know it is there. I know the best I give every day is enough, and for the days that doesn’t feel true I have already drilled into my brain that it is. Every day, my dependence on the Lord increases a little more.

“I always wonder if I’m going to have to deal with it for the rest of my life, and it just makes me not want to fight anymore,” a friend said.

And I thought about how frustrated I was when God didn’t take away all my problems in an instant, because he knew that teaching me to fight this battle was what would actually keep me walking in freedom. There may come a day when I don’t have anxiety anymore, but there will never be a day when I don’t need the Lord.

My eyes softened. “I used to think that too. But it’s not true.”

~

“Lindsey, do you remember that chem test I told you about that was this huge miracle?” I asked her in the car when we were driving back to college.

“Yeah!”

“So they actually messed up and gave me more points than I deserved. And I still had an A without those points, but it caused this huge dilemma. I ended up giving it back and my T.A took off the points. I felt so bad afterwards and I had no idea why.”

“Because it’s so counter cultural,” Jessie said.

“I don’t know. I would’ve been just as happy with the actual score I got if I had seen it first. But for some reason, having those points taken away felt really bad.”

“What makes you more proud? Your grades or your integrity?” Jessie asked.

“Integrity for sure. But since I felt that way, maybe there is a part of me that was holding on to that number so tightly.”

“I think that as we continue to lean into the Holy Spirit and try to make the right decisions, we grow. And growth sometimes hurts a little. Even if it only costs a few points,” Lindsey said. We all nodded.

“Honestly, I don’t think I would’ve been able to make the same decision you did,” Jessie said. A concurrent nod erupted throughout the car.

“I definitely would not have given it back,” Lindsey said, laughing. “I’m so proud of you.”

“I wouldn’t have either. But since you did, maybe now the next time that happens I will,” Camille said. Everyone nodded again.

I breathed a sigh of relief. This is why community is so important. I was grateful.

~

When I’m off my game, it feels like everyone in my life can tell. My face is really easy to read I guess.

Retreat was so needed, but when I got back, the unknowns of the future all of a sudden became so prevalent. I was planning on getting my EMT certification this summer and was already signed up for the class. But I also needed a job this summer. I was scrolling through so many jobs every single day, dropping resumes, realizing I made mistakes on applications, and then having to start all over again. Many of my friends already had jobs set for them for the summer and following year, and I couldn’t help but be a little discouraged. And most of the jobs I was looking at were boring lab assistant jobs where you got paid to clean beakers or file papers. I couldn’t find something meaningful to me.

So I made a list of all the things I had that God had basically dropped from the sky. This college, my fellowship, my mentors, my first job, my second mission trip, and so many random encounters with people were among them. God could surely drop a job from the sky as well.

An email popped in my inbox claiming they found a job that would be a “Perfect Match”. I thought it was a normal tutoring job at first, and was about to apply for it and move on. But then I read further, and discovered it was for a Christian organization. I looked it up. The ministry was a Christian boarding school for troubled teens that were rebelling and/or have been through trauma. The founder used to work for Hume Lake, a popular Christian camp I have been to and loved. A fire lit up inside of me. It was a ministry job. I would be getting paid to tutor, disciple, lead small groups, help cook meals, and take these students to counseling appointments. The heart of the ministry was healing and restoration. They wanted someone both academically and spiritually qualified, someone who had a heart for teens that were battling some of the worst stuff out there. No experience required. I gathered all my pastoral references and poured my heart out on the questions about my faith. Yesterday, I submitted it.

God, I want this job so badly. I want to show these students a love that they’ve never seen before. I want to come alongside them in their hardest times. Clearly if I get this it will be the hardest thing I ever do in my life, but I can’t stop dreaming about it. I want to see healing and restoration like never before. I want to cry with these students in their hardest times. It would teach me how to love better. This job would produce so much fruit. 

And now we wait!

~

Waiting. Waiting sucks.

I have 3 weeks until finals. 4 weeks until I have to move out of my dorm. 4 weeks until my first year of college is over.

This week I have a bio midterm on Friday. I get to lead small group on Thursday. I have to call someone back to schedule an interview for a tutoring job that I’m going to do just for the sake of experience. I got scheduled for Jury Duty and have to reschedule it. Like what? I guess I am an adult now.

But today I am home! My brother and I surprised my mom for mother’s day. Perks of going to college close to home. It was a huge success.

And we wait patiently and hope for the future, while being mindful in the present. Did you know it is possible to do both? You can have hope for the future and enjoy the current season you’re in simultaneously. You can stay rooted in scripture in the midst of all the unknowns. That’s how I fight my battles.

“She will carry on with hope and deeply rooted faith, that even in these unknowns, she is growing while she waits.” -MHN

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Sheer Joy

What a weird season this has been. The thoughts that used to tear me apart on the daily all throughout high school and my first quarter of college are gone. Not gone as in completely gone, but they make it to the surface of my heart and hit the wall of truth that this girl has been building for so long. The whole, “I’m not good enough, smart enough, or strong enough” trio can’t seem to penetrate my heart. And life has just been so good.

The thoughts have changed, however. And this whole week these questions have been on my heart:

Can things really be this good? Can I really feel this happy? Can I trust God this much? Can I be this confident?

Is my joy real? Or is it contingent on my circumstances? Is it going to go away the next time something doesn’t go the way I want it to?

Can I love my life this much?

I’ve walked through a lot of pain in my life. For all I knew, life was always going to be this painful, beautiful, but extremely painful thing. But now I’ve been getting to know a God who is so excited to love me and do life with me. I’ve been getting to know a God that leaves me full of awe and wonder, who finds joy in simply being with me, a God that I can delight in with every aspect of my life. I was used to the God who was always working in the midst of my pain, but I didn’t think the pain would ever go away. After all, we all know that life is full of problems. Sometimes it feels like you barely make it through one and then another hits you in the face.

But what if the difference between walking in freedom vs. bondage has nothing to do with our circumstances? What if it is possible to feel this at peace, this in love with life, in the middle of the uncertainty, in the middle of the ocean, in the middle of heartbreak, grief, sickness, and just sheer crap?

Jesus didn’t create us so that we would be in pain for the rest of our lives. He loved us so much that He was willing to carry all of our weight. Jesus felt pain like no other. The emotions he felt validate the ones we feel today. It’s not question that we will walk through hard seasons in this life.

Can you have the good without the pain? I think there wasn’t supposed to be pain. But Adam and Eve messed up, and then sin entered the world.

But can it be this good? Is this joy actually sustainable? Can you actually be this happy all the time?

I don’t know. But it is a gift. And I want to cherish it. I want to feel it deeply. After all, if my heart could feel the extent of pain that it has felt in the past, it can feel just as much joy. And I’m just beginning to experience it.

I went to office hours for my chemistry midterm. Everyone in there was complaining about how screwed they were for the midterm and how they were going to die unless there was a thick curve. My heart skipped a beat. That’s the wrong mindset, people. I met a girl who was super pissed about getting a B+ in chem last quarter.

“That’s super good!” I told her.

“Yeah, but it’s still not good enough,” she said. My heart broke a little.

I went to office hours for bio. Erika, the sweetest T.A ever, answered all my questions and then said, “You are like the happiest biologist I’ve ever met!”

“Awe.”

“That will probably change after the first midterm,” someone said.

Woah. Don’t declare that over me! I thought.

I had never been this aware of how negative people are in my life. It is weird to be happy in a culture where people are supposed to always be so busy. It’s weird to be happy when you have three midterms in one week and the material is extremely hard. We do live in a society that says you can’t be that happy. I see more posts about depression than I ever see about joy. And it’s hard to be grateful. Hard to choose joy. The people who ask me how I’m able to be so happy all the time have no idea how hard I fight for it.

Then, I met this girl named Priscilla. She was the most positive person I’ve ever met. After studying with her once, I was amazed. Her thought process, work ethic, and attitude, is so full of life. It also turned out that we both had the same rough experience first quarter and failed the same AP exams in high school, but also did so much better second quarter. She fights hard for her joy as well, and it just radiates to everyone around her.

Even with the joy, we both had two very difficult midterms that week and were definitely feeling it.

“Honestly, I know you’re going to do great,” I told her. “Your mindset is so positive. I haven’t met someone with a mindset like yours in a very long time. And from what I’ve seen, that’s literally half the battle here.”

~

“What is an area of your life where you feel like it’s hard for you to delight in the Lord? Or what thoughts go through your heads that hinder you from fully delighting in the Lord?” Daniela asked us during our weekly prayer meeting.

We went around and shared.

“It’s just been weird,” I said when we got to me. “I’ve been in this season of so much peace and joy. I haven’t had a toxic thought attack me in a very long time, but now I keep seeming to question whether the joy that I have is actually possible. My thoughts are consumed by, ‘Can I have this much joy? Can I trust God this much? Is this joy going to leave?’ It’s not as debilitating as the thoughts that used to plague me but I feel like they’re hindering me from really experiencing how good this is. So I’m just trying to bask in this season I’m in because it is such a gift.”

We sat in a circle and prayed over one another. When we finished, God’s presence swept through the room and changed the atmosphere.

“I got an image for you,” Daniela said. “I got an image of a child always wanting their dad to carry them. And you kept asking God to carry you, and then God put you on his shoulders and there was so much joy and peace and you could see how amazing everything was. But then you started to look down and you were like, ‘woah, this is a lot.’ But as you started to look up and focus on the beauty that was all around you, you realized that where you are is real.”

I was speechless.

~

3 grueling midterms later, I found myself at a talent show show playing the guitar in front of a crowd for the first time and sharing a few pieces of my life story. The song I sang was about how God is always re-introducing himself to us to show us how real he is.

What does it really mean to let God carry you on his shoulders? It means you get to see things in ways you’ve never seen before. It means you are just left in awe and wonder a the time from the simple things of life, the things that make it so worth living.

I was tired. So tired from the demands of this school, but still so full of joy. And for the first time, I am confident that this joy is not contingent on how I did on those midterms. But it does reflect a God that is just so good through it all.

Learning to Rest

“I don’t want to hustle. I just want to be. I just want to rest,” cries the inner depths of my soul.

But sadly, I want to hustle. I want to knock these heavy classes upside the head and get good grades. I want to grind and conquer. I don’t like the slow. I want to run.

And there were some things that slowed me down this week. I didn’t like that. But those things didn’t come close to preventing God from doing what He wanted to do. That was way more important than my agenda.

~

Wednesday, April 10th

We had a prayer meeting this morning. It was so good to meet with my freshman gals and pray over one another. Afterwards, I stayed in the ministry house and busted out my chemistry homework. My allergies were miserable. So I sat with a roll of toilet paper to blow my nose in between the calculations. However, I was very at peace despite the fact that it was taking forever. I embraced the slowness as I kept getting stuck on things.

When I finished, I was unlocking my bike when I saw Jess, one of my future housemates, walking.

“Jess! Where are you headed?” I asked her.

“Discussion in Wellman!”

“Can I carry you there?” I asked her, referring to the pegs on my bike.

“Um, no, I’m okay.”

“It’s super fun!”

“It’s okay. My back is kinda hurting again. But you can walk with me if you want!”

“Okay!” I walked my bike next to her.

“Did it just start hurting?”

“Yeah! It just feels really out of place.” She stopped a few times along the way to adjust it.

“Did you just wake up like that?”

“Yeah. It wasn’t hurting for awhile, but now it is.”

“Dang! What class are you going to?”

“Environmental studies! I think we have a pop quiz.”

“Why?”

“Because she really emphasized that we should read the chapters,” she said laughing.

We made it to her class.

“Hey, can I pray for your back before you go!”

“Yes of course! I’ve been praying all morning!”

“Yay!”

“God, I thank you for the joy Jess has even though her back is hurting like crazy.” We both started laughing. “I speak healing to every bone in her spine, every ligament in her back. God, I pray you would heal her body on earth as it will be in heaven. I pray her back would be completely healed and restored, even better than it was before. And I just bless her before this pop quiz, that she would slay and have the strength to do what she needs to do without any pain. In Jesus’ name, amen!”

“Amen! Thank you!” We embraced.

“Of course! Go slay that pop quizzo!” I said.

“Alrighty! I’ll see you when I see you!”

When I got back to my dorm, she texted me saying, “So I get all the way to class only for there to be a sign on the door that class is canceled. I’m 100% sure she didn’t send an email so the universe would align and we would walk together and you’d pray for my back. LOL.”

In order for me to have left the house at that exact time, it meant I had to spend the exact time I did getting stuck and sneezing through each chemistry problem. But I guess I just happened to finish at the exact time I needed to, to walk with this amazing girl I get to live with next year.

“God is hilarious! And you avoided a pop quizzo!”

“RIGHT!”

~

Thursday, April 11th

I woke up with a hefty sore throat. It was inevitable. My roomie had been sick since Saturday and everyone else at this school was getting sick too. I was used to this by now, since I’m from Sacramento and the plagues that go around there have everyone sick several times a year. I was ready to beat it and chugged my vitamin c.

I didn’t last very long. My sinuses were all messed up and the weakness began to weigh on me during my first class, contact improv. I struggled to be mindful during the warmup as my whole body wanted to collapse and sneeze, and my nose was like a waterfall.

30 minutes in, I gave up trying to stick it out.

“Tara,” I said, weakly.

My dance teacher turned around. “I’m feeling kinda sick.”

“You’re feeling sick? Do you want to step out?” She asked me.

“Yes.” I got up and went in the back room. The vulnerability had me crying and crying, but it was so needed.

The lights were off in the back and I passed out on the couch, sort of aware of people going in and out of the bathroom. They all had no idea I was hiding there. There was a giant, long, pillow on the couch, and I closed my eyes and held onto it for dear life.

It was awfully quiet when I woke up. I tip-toed back into the dance room. Nobody was there. In the top left corner of my eye, I saw Tara sitting on top of all the mats with her legs crossed in front of her, eating her lunch as gently as a fairy. Ohmygosh. I was dazed. I walked over to the bleachers. My stuff was the only stuff that was still there. I slowly checked my phone. It was 1:10, about 20 minutes after class normally ended.

“Are you alright, Lea?” She asked me from where she was, breaking my cloudy conscience. I felt a little bit better, I guess.

“Yeah!” I said, slowly, narrowing my eyes, with a soft smile.

“Did you sleep?”

“Yeah!” I said, laughing.

“I figured!”

We both gathered our things to leave. Then, slowly, having no idea what to say, we met each other at the midpoint between our space.

“Thank you for letting me sleep,” I said.

The dance teacher wrapped my sick, weak body in a tight embrace. A chuckle of grace and understanding erupted deep inside her, and her laugh filled my soul.

“Of course! I know how things are sometimes.”

The fairy and I parted ways. I felt like I owed her an explanation for why I was sick, a story to justify why I needed to sleep.

But she seemed to know. To know that I would normally stick things out and pretend to be tough. She’s seen me dance. She’s seen my joy. She knew me without me having to tell her anything.

The day was barely starting, and I was already overwhelmed by grace.

~

I grabbed food, took a nap, and woke up feeling even more sick. I splashed some water on my face and trekked it to my next class. A girl named Erica, a friend of a friend, gave me her notes because I was too sick to take my own and encouraged me as I struggled to finish my pre-lab because I had just found out my TA was checking something in the next hour that I managed to let slip through. After psych, I bolted to the Science Lab Building, put on my lab coat and goggles, and met my lab partner.

“Yo. I really need you to carry me through this one,” I told him.

“Oh man. Yeah, you look like you’re dying.”

I originally tried to help him, but I ended up resorting to the edge of the table and just guided him with the procedure.

“You gotta transfer 8mLs of 6M HCL into the calorimeter and then measure the lowest temperature change,” I said, weakly.

“I got you!” He kept saying. I recorded the data. My cocky lab partner continued to tell dumb jokes the whole time, which I had never been more thankful for. He really stepped it up for me. Normally we both divided and conquered and always finished early. But he really carried me through. We were out of there an hour early.

When you can’t do anything, the little things mean the world. Kallista, my best friend, gave me hope by just being there and texting me. Everyone was praying. I had a midterm the next day, but felt at peace. I hadn’t cried in a very long time, but I cried like crazy that night. Not because I felt anxiety or was worried about the midterm. I was just in a lot pain, and I couldn’t fathom the grace.

~

I didn’t sleep very well that night. My roomie was coughing like crazy, and I wished I could’ve eased her pain too. But I had a midterm that morning. I tried to eat breakfast but went light because my body couldn’t handle it, and lightly perused some lecture notes.

The midterm was a joke. I could barely concentrate and suffered like crazy through it, but I got 26/28. Praise the Lord for Erica who sent me her notes that I looked at literally the night before. Psych wasn’t as horrible as the other science classes here I guess.

I napped, went to class, and then napped again. By the evening, I felt like I was freezing and burning at the same time, but somehow found the strength to drag myself to chem discussion and sign the attendance sheet.

“You look like a wreck,” My lab partner said, laughing.

“Thanks,” I said, laughing. “I’m literally dying.”

After surviving that, we were walking out together when we ran into Josh and Michelangelo, who both lead a men’s upper-classmen small group at DCF.

“Hey Lea! How are you?” Josh asked me.

“I’m dying. I’m so sick.”

“I’m sorry,” Josh said.

“It’s okay,” I said. I turned to my lab partner. “These are my friends, Josh and Michael. They’re both from DCF. You should seriously check it out!”

I had invited him last quarter, and he claimed he was trying to find a Christian club that wasn’t a cult.

“Yeah, I have friends in some of the other fellowships. I’m just trying not to land in a cult,” He said, slowly.

I made eye contact with Josh and we burst into laughter.

“You should just tell him that we’re a cult just because,” I said.

“DCF. Davis Cult Fellowship!” Josh said. We all erupted in laughter.

“Seriously though. If you want to find a Christian club that isn’t a cult, the only way to find out is to try them. They lead a men’s bible study! If you can’t go to worship you could still go to their small group!”

“When is it?”

“Wednesdays. 8p.m.” Josh said.

We conversed for a little bit and then eventually Josh gave him his number.

“Do I have to bring a bible?” He asked.

“Nope!” The three of us said.

“Seriously! No pressure! If you want to meet with one of us before you go to ask more questions, we’d love to. We just want to love people here,” Michael said.

“Feel better Lea!” Josh said, “And hope to see you again,” he said to my lab partner.

“I’ll walk with you to that tree,” I said, walking my bike. “You think you’re gonna go?”

“Actually, yeah. I like trying new things. It works with my schedule.”

“Sweet! I won’t be at that small group. I go to a freshman one! Our worship is a little expressive and crazy, but you’re always welcome to check that out too! We’re definitely different from the other fellowships, but we’re all after Jesus in the same way,” I said.

“I don’t mind that. Gotta praise Jesus,” he said, in a way I couldn’t tell was sarcastic or serious. I laughed.

“I’ll see you on Thursday!” I said, getting on my bike.

“See you around, partner! Feel better.”

My lab partner. He’s a second year from Hawaii and is also a biochemistry major. I had been praying for him. Last quarter he opened up to me a little bit about his faith. He was exposed to the church before, even a Pentecostal one, but seemed to have never truly encountered the Lord for himself.

And we so happened to take the same exact teacher and lab section this quarter out of the three different teachers and the twenty different sections of lab for each teacher. We weren’t even trying to. In all honesty, we were probably trying to avoid each other. Our relationship is literally just Him saying some stupid or cocky joke and me telling him to shut up. He kept claiming he would do better than me in chemistry last quarter without going to class, and he got a B with the curve but percent wise barely came close to what I got. He could’ve totally gotten an A if he actually studied for the final though, as he is really smart. Everything he says is just so meaningless that it’s funny. Underneath the sarcasm he has a good heart. But being lab partners again couldn’t have been an accident. And running into Josh and Michael couldn’t have been an accident either.

I think God is after His heart. I’m praying he goes. And I’m praying He has a real encounter with the Lord.

~

On Saturday I woke up and was feeling so much better. It was picnic day, the day my school opens itself up as an open house for the entire community and schools from all over come. I spent some time with friends and pet over 20 dogs. Last year it was the day I submitted my statement of intent to enroll, which is just crazy. Now, freshman year is almost done.

Grace and rest were the two themes of this week. There’s nothing wrong with being sick, weak or tired. Those aren’t things to be afraid of. When these things happen, I’m used to becoming overwhelmed with anxiety about them. But I wasn’t this time because I’ve been learning to feel what I feel. That the important thing is processing your emotions with the Lord. Feel the pain with the Lord. Process through the vulnerability with the Lord. And rest with the Lord. It is so important to feel what we feel because He lies in our hearts. He can’t meet us where we’re at if we’re not honest about where we’re at. He can’t give us rest if we’re not tired.

Peace doesn’t mean it will all go your away. It’s knowing that if it doesn’t, if you hit a wall or a crazy cold tries to steal your joy, it can’t and it won’t. Because you’re a fighter. And you have a God who is fighting for you.

So I’m resting up for battle. Got lots of dragons to slay in the next two weeks. Sometimes resting is the most productive thing we can do. Maybe glass walls are an opportunity to rest. Maybe they’re a chance to slow down, to not miss the amazing things God is doing all around us.

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I am.

We’re all on our own journeys of healing, and I think the one thing we can all agree about is that God is with us every step of the way.

This song means a lot to me, and the first time I heard it I nearly cried. God is always reintroducing himself to us, reminding us to fix our eyes on who He is. This song portrays how much He loves us and wants to heal us.

There’s a line that says, “You don’t have to reach for me because this is where I am.” This song just highlights how he meets us where we’re at.

One of my mentors, Anh, from high school called me when I was doing homework in the ministry house saying I’d been on her heart lately. After hearing about my quarter of peace and freedom, the 3.9 UC Davis GPA, and everything God has been doing in my life, she couldn’t believe who she was talking to. “Do you remember where you were sophomore year of high school? When you were so stressed about figure skating and trying to be perfect at school and everything?” She asked me. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing as I told her how I’ve been learning to balance work with rest, and to simply do the best I can each day and let God be in charge of the results.

“I was always so worried you would never learn how to rest,” She said, “and to have known you for as long as I’ve known you, where you are at right now is such a miracle. It really sounds like you’ve done a lot of work to get here. I’m so proud of you.”

It takes a lot of work, training your thoughts to be completely dependent on Jesus. And that’s why I love this song. Just think about everything you think you need right now. And then imagine God completing that sentence with, “I am. I am everything you need.” He can heal you brokenness. He wants to show you that He’s real.

“I don’t know how long this is going to last,” I told her, laughing.

“You just bask in this season of peace you’re in right now. The new battles will come when they’re supposed to.”

And those future battles are not something to worry about either. Because He will still be everything I need. He will still always meet me daily, right where I’m at.

So this is me singing the song I’ve been singing like crazy lately. Excuse my poor guitar skills, the piano still makes much more sense to me. Hope it speaks to you as much as it does to me. =)

~

It’s quiet
In this house upon a hill
You won’t mind it
Some things you can’t know till you’re still
In the silence
Where your spinning thoughts slow down
In the stillness
Things have a way of working out

Allow Me to introduce Myself again
I’m the One that knew you before time began
I’ve been waiting for you to let Me be your friend
Everything you ever need is everything I am
I Am, I Am, I Am

Take your chances
There’s nothing here to lose
Ask your questions
I promise you the truth
As you’re ready
I want to hear your heart
Is it heavy
Where wounds have left a mark?

Allow Me to introduce Myself again
I was with you every place you’ve ever been
I’m the One that held you when you couldn’t stand
If you’re wondering who can heal your brokenness
I can, I can, I can

I’ll meet you
In the house upon the hill
How I want to
Show you I am real

Allow Me to introduce Myself again
I’m the Love you used to think could not exist
I’m as sure as where you’re standing and as free as the wind
You don’t have to reach for Me, ’cause this is where I am

I Am, I Am, I Am

I Am, I Am, I Am

-Amanda Cook

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What It Means To Me To Be a Student

I just finished my second quarter of college and I cannot fathom the grades that I finished with. But that’s besides the point. This quarter has been full of so much healing and restoration. I have honestly never been so happy. My heart is overflowing with joy because last quarter I struggled so hard and I never thought that making it to a point in life like this was even possible.

So I’ve written what it means to me to be a worship leader and what it means to me to be a Christian. And I felt like I needed to write this because there is so much that goes into being a student that people don’t realize and it is a huge part of my life. This is what it means to me.

~

Work in progress.

Being a student means that I am learning. Whether that is calculating the amount of food a Sauropod can eat in a day or figuring out how many math problems you can fit on a whiteboard in as many colors as possible, I am never going to know everything about anything. These concepts we learn on paper might seem useless many times. And honestly, many of them probably are. But every class I take is an opportunity to appreciate some aspect of the way this world works. And every class is an opportunity to stop, look around, and acknowledge how much there is to learn about, and how beautiful it is that nobody could ever know it all.

It means that I will always be learning how to learn. Because the ability to learn is the greatest gift of all time. There will be days when I want to bang my head against a wall because my brain is so fried. And there will be days when things finally make a little more sense. It means I am on a journey as I learn to navigate both of these scenarios. I am learning to ask myself what I know before I assume I can’t do something. It means perfecting my ability to google things and always trying to understand the material as a whole.

It means I’m not always going to. And when I don’t, you can catch me in office hours handing my professors the hardest problems of all time and throwing them off guard. It means I’m going to do the best I can with what I have, and that means reaching out to the people who so desperately want you to reach them when you need help. Professors like that don’t always exist, but the act of reaching out in the chance they might be helpful is more important than the result. Being a student is acknowledging that teachers are human, and talking trash about them doesn’t help anyone. I am always trying to see my teachers through the eyes of Love and focus on their good qualities though it’s so much easier to judge. But this mindset is the reason why I was able to visit my high school this week and hug all my teachers there. I looked for what I loved about them, and I found it in abundance.

It means half my life will be spent studying. And that means I’m going to be more intentional with my time. Work and rest are equally important, and sleeping eight hours a night and studying five hours a day is an important balance. Mindset is super important, and we all know that quote, “she believed she could so she did.” But she also believed she could one day and was tired, so she rested, and everything was fine because she knew she could try again tomorrow. It means I have to take care of myself. Dance breaks, walks, and nutritious meals are all the more important. Making time for people is all the more important. School is important, but it isn’t everything. There’s no point in working towards anything if you aren’t present and happy with where you are right now. It also means that if i figure something out that people don’t know, I am going to help them. The last thing we want here is a cutthroat competitive environment.

But it does mean sacrifice. One of the girls I mentor had a birthday party the weekend before finals weekend, and I couldn’t make it. I’m away from home and I’m distant from all the girls I mentor and so many other people I care about back at home, including my family. But it means I have two homes. I have a home in Davis where the college and study grind is strong, and a home in Sac where rest, friends, and family welcome me with open arms. Many may not understand how much of my time goes into schoolwork, but being a student means I am working towards something so much greater than myself. I’m believing all the time I spend studying is worth it.

It means my faith is my greatest anchor as this public school system is full of so many unknowns. I have to trust that I just have to do the best I can each day with what I have, and that God will get me wherever I’m supposed to.

It means bad grades don’t define me. But neither do good grades. I don’t want to ever be “the girl with a 4.0,” and thanks to first quarter I never will be. That’s okay. It means separating my performance from who I am may be a lifelong battle. That God is the ultimate teacher. Our definition of success is so different from God’s definition of success. And if I ever think my grades are what determine if I’m successful or a failure, I have completely put the person God crafted me to be in a box. It means there is grace for me when I do, and that as I fall deeper and deeper in love with Jesus, His definition of success will begin to replace mine.

It means I’m going to fail sometimes. And it means that isn’t a bad thing or something to be afraid of. The focus of my time here should not be worrying about whether things will work out or not, but just doing the best I can day by day. Being a student means fear of failing is far more debilitating than actually failing.

Not every day will be a day where I wake up with determination and go to bed with satisfaction. But being a student means that every day I wake up with hope for the future. It means there will be things that don’t work out as planned, and part of the journey is learning to embrace that and the hope that surrounds those situations. It means trusting in the process and being present for the journey. I am living, not just surviving. I am not a victim to piling tests, weed out classes, and giant classes, but a survivor. There is no one perfect road to where I’m supposed to be, and sometimes the decisions that make the best stories are better than the ones that are “right.”

Not every test I study for I will ace, but you can bet I will give every test that comes my way my best effort. And the one thing that gives me the strength to do that is Jesus. You gotta nourish to flourish. This quarter I’ve learned how God fills us up from the inside out like a well. The only way I’m going to have the strength to do anything here is if I’m relying on God for strength. There is no way I can do it on my own.

But there will be amazing seasons too. Seasons of peace. Seasons like this.

I finished my quarter with a 3.9. The old Lea would’ve been angry that I got so close to perfection but didn’t make it. But this Lea sees it now from a different perspective.

My first quarter in college was a disaster. Those of you who have been following me for a while know how much I struggled spiritually, emotionally, and academically. This quarter was a miracle. I’ve never gone through anything in academia without feeling super stressed, but this quarter was just full of insurmountable peace and abundance.

And I think it is just so beautiful to have worked so hard and have grown so much. The high g.p.a is besides the point. I am more happy with how I handled the stress than I am with the result.

And how amazing is it that I got so close to perfection but didn’t quite get there? I proved that you can get grades like that without skipping meals and pulling all nighters. But for me, that was only with Jesus. I think it’s cool that I almost made that perfect 4.0, but that I’ve still got that 0.1 more to trust God with, that 0.1 more of freedom to experience, and that 0.1 more to learn academically.

Haha, I have way more than that to go, but for this quarter, I think that’s crazy. Because I did everything I could. The result still wasn’t perfect, though my effort was. But I got pretty dang close. Point is, I grew so much this quarter. But I still have more to grow. I’m officially back in Davis after a week of much needed rest and meeting with people from back home. I never arrive as a student. I’m just always ready for more slow, steady, growth.

And that is what it means to me to be a student. Being this content with where I am. But also this grateful for how much more there is to grow. Being this grateful that there is always more. I will be learning to love others better for the rest of my life. I will be having encounters with Jesus for as long as I’m following Him. My schoolwork will always simply be a supplement to the real thing I will always be learning: to see the world the way He sees the world, and to worship Him with everything that I have.

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we can’t perfect everything.

There is messiness here. It’s in the unknown, the deep, and the meaningful. It’s unavoidable. But sometimes, I think I can get around it by controlling and perfecting. By studying like ham so the variable of failing isn’t an option. I think that if I could just eat healthy and sleep well every single day, I will never feel tired. And we all know by now that through trying to do that, we are putting our lives a box. We may take the unknown out of the box, but when we do so, we also take the “real” out of “real life.” Vulnerability is messy, but so necessary. And one of the ways we avoid it is by trying to perfect things.

I have not been stressed lately. It’s weird. I’ve never heard myself say that. Finals are next week. Everyone else at this school is drowning right now. I mean my circumstances aren’t much better, but I guess things just haven’t been getting to me. My bike chain split in half while riding to class today. I have a midterm tomorrow on material that is so weird. I had a presentation for my dance final today. I have to memorize over 500 morphemes for my classics final. But I’m not feeling the weight of anything. I’m going into these finals with really solid grades, and I just have to keep them. I feel like the hard work has been done already, especially for my chemistry class. But I also just know that everything that is supposed to get done will get done, and that the best I can do is enough. Maybe I’ve been feeling so at peace because the weather here has become so nice. Maybe it’s because reviewing a practice exam outside in the grass under the night sky and seeing everyone freak out over the giant turkey blocking the entrance to their dorm made me laugh so hard and forget about everything.

Or maybe it’s because I actually have grown in this mindfulness thing. And this school thing. I think I finally figured something out.

2 weeks ago I was doing my 2-practice-tests-a-day-for-a-week ritual for my chemistry midterm. I was on practice test #6 in the ministry house when Michael, one of the staff leaders came to see what I was doing.

“What are you up to?” He asked me.

“Drawing 3-D orbital structures! Wanna see?” I showed him the pile of practice tests I had already taken.

“You know, you’re really doing the right thing here by studying like this. Because when you study like this, the studying is the hardest part. On test day you’ll just be chilling.”

“But sometimes you study like this and still fail,” I said, laughing.

He nodded slowly and said, “Yeah, you’ll have some of those sometimes. But the point is, you’re doing everything you can.” He gave me a thoughtful nod and then patted my shoulder.

Doing everything you can.

You can’t perfect everything. The equations won’t always add up. Sometimes your self-care game will be strong and anxiety will still knock the wind out of you. You can spend time with God every day and have a day or so in between where He feels so distant. You can be fighting for your peace and not feel it. That is the messy. In those times, there is beauty. It doesn’t mean you screwed up somewhere or that something is wrong with you. It just means the life you’re living is real. Real, vulnerable, and beautiful. But there is an expectation that if we do everything right, everything in life will go right as well.

And that is exactly what the problem is. I have an expectation for my performance. It’s high. I want my life to be this box wrapped with a ribbon of perfect grades, healing, and restoration in my life and the lives of those around me. And yet God’s way of growing my faith is by disappointing my expectations.

That’s weird, right? We always talk about the God who meets and exceeds are expectations. We talk about the God of abundance, healing, and breakthrough. We talk about the God that’s promised us peace and life everlasting, a God that will overflow our cup and give us more than we could ever imagine.

But what if God is still doing everything He promised to do? Have you ever thought God was gonna do something? That’s exactly what the problem is. We are living in the prison of our expectations. We are living in the prison of our plans. We are living in the prison of what we thought God would do or should do or is supposed to do. We spend so much time wondering if God is good because something didn’t go as planned. There are some things in our lives that we are trying to figure out right now, and that’s a prison. Because what if he is able to do so much more than we could immeasurably imagine?

What if God doesn’t meet our expectations because he wants to exceed them?

So the way He grows my faith is usually to disappoint my expectations.

Because God is trying to deliver us from what we thought He was. He needs to, because He is just so much more than that.

We think He is going to come through in a certain way, so we become disappointed. What if God is still working behind the scenes in ways that are just so extravagant but we can’t see them because our heads are too wrapped up in what we thought He was gonna do? His plan is so much better than what we thought. His purpose is so much bigger than what we hoped for.

We need our faith to rest not in who we thought God was, but what He is. We spend so much time in our minds trying to figure out whether God is good or trying to figure out whether life makes sense. But that’s a prison. We can’t figure it out that way. We can’t figure it out by trying to figure it out with our human brains. It’s going to take faith. It’s going to take something greater than us. It’s going to take a really, really big God.

And we’re gonna have to decide whether we are going to interpret Him through the lense of our expectations, or set our expectations on the basis of who He is. God uses our disappointment to develop our character. The devil uses our disappointment to destroy us. It’s what we do with that disappointment that matters.

I’ve been disappointed by the way things work out. I go to a giant college that’s trying to weed out all the pre-meds and science majors. I’ve wondered if it’s always going to be as  brutal as last quarter. I’ve wondered if I’m going to have to live with anxiety forever.

But everything that God has promised is still a promise. I can attest to His deliverance. I can tell you countless stories of His goodness. Just read through some of my older posts if you need proof that He is good. It’s just different from what I thought. And as long as I am trapped in the prison of what I thought, I can’t accept what God is doing right now. My expectation is not that my faith will make everything pleasant, but that God is here and is fighting these battles. That there is a greater purpose and a greater meaning behind everything.

Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Part of that freedom is the freedom from what you thought getting set free was supposed to look like. Because let me tell you what I wanted being set free to look like: magic. Magic is my close-minded, one-dimensional expectation of what God is supposed to be. Of course I was disappointed when I didn’t get magically cured from all my life’s struggles.

But now that I’m at this point in my life where there are still plenty of waves around me and I have found so much peace and rest, I can tell you that God was immeasurably more than magic. That thing that allowed me to fall seven times and stand up eight, that was God. That thing that gives me the strength day in and day out to study my face off, that’s God. The grace I received in every fallout, that was God.

And He’s been telling me that there were things I would never perceive. He’s been saying, “All the people who text you when they don’t understand math homework, that is me. The girl you met in the laundry room who was stuck on that practice exam you spent hours figuring out, and getting to walk her through how you did it, that was me. The girl you studied with last night who thinks she’s going to fail chem for the second time, that is me. That is me working through you to the people in all of your classes.” I might be pissed at God if she doesn’t pass now because it makes me so angry to see how hard people work and how it doesn’t work out. And that is exactly my flaw. I need to drop my rules for how this world is supposed to work and embrace the work God is doing in my life right now.

He is healing me in ways that are not what I thought. Goodness and mercy will follow me throughout all the days of my life, but it might be in a way that I have not anticipated.

My friend gave me a word a few weeks ago.

“I see you walking around with these chains on you dragging you down. And you have gotten so used to them that you are now okay with the fact that you will never run again and have even forgotten how. But God is telling you that running is exactly what you need, so to do that you need to shed off those chains that you have been so accustomed to and run. He wants this for you because it is good to run and live in that freedom that He has called us to know and love.”

When I first received this, I was angry. I was tired of hearing that I could truly become set free. I was tired of wrestling with Him.

But God has been saying, “No. I want you to wrestle with me. I don’t want you to put me in a box. I don’t want you to be stuck with your small view of me.”

I want the box wrapped with a ribbon. But God’s perspective is on eternity.

“There are things that you are going through that make no sense. I didn’t cause all of them, but I can promise you that I am using all of them.”

So forget what you thought He was supposed to do. Take God out of the box. Forget what you wish your life looked like. God’s agenda will always involve a piece of mystery. You won’t be able to figure it out. He is doing something in your life right now. And all you’re supposed to do is partner with Him in the best of your ability in openness to it. You don’t have to do anything. You just have to be. Be present, not perfect. Be loved, and be where you are. And trust that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

Lea

 

 

10 Weeks of Bullet Journaling

I’ve been taking a freshman seminar on bullet journaling and my super kind professor gives us so much washi tape every week. In honor of tomorrow being my last class for the quarter, I thought I would share the real, raw, reflections that I actually submitted throughout the course of this class along with some snippets from my messy journal. This class has really changed my life. 💗

~

Week 1

Freedom. That’s the one word I would use to describe the beginning of my bullet journaling journey thus far. I don’t use a table of contents. I don’t stick to a plan. I don’t use the ruler that much. Each morning, I whip it out and take a little time for myself to recenter on my emotional and spiritual values. I quote things that inspire me and make a list of what I want to get done that day. Before I go to bed, I write a short recap of my day, followed by a list of gratitudes and more thoughts. As of now, I’ve been going ham with it and have a feeling I might run out of pages before the quarter ends. In the beginning, I made a lot of to-do lists and have a really appreciated having a key so I could roll things over to the next day. But then I realized I had a planner as well, and at this point I’ve decided to keep more of the academic stuff in my planner and personal stuff in my journal. However, in the time frame where I was trying to figure out where my planner and bullet journal fit in my life, I had to-do lists in my bullet journal and then wrote the times I would do each thing in my planner. That did work, so I still might keep doing that. I love all the doodles, banners, and layouts I’ve found, except most of the time when I want to journal I just draw something and hope for the best. Organizationally, boxes have become my best friend to separate categories and drawing cactuses, leaves, and plants in extra spaces has been very satisfying aesthetically. I feel more productive with my journal. I can definitely commit to the design I’ve been doing forever, because the design I’ve been doing is so flexible and is different almost every day. I feel like writing a page or two each day works far better for me than monthly or weekly designs just because I enjoy taking life one day at a time. Sometimes I don’t make lists. If I’m feeling the creative juices to write something like a poem or want to capture a memory, I mess up the whole structure of my journal and just go for it. I like how there are no rules. Some challenges I’ve faced have been trying to make headings that are super fancy like everyone else seems to be able to do and drawing nice doodles. I’m so excited to keep at it!

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~

Week 2

I have been committing to a gratitude journal since the very beginning in which each day I need to find at least five things about my day that were positive and worth focusing on, and writing them down. The layout changes almost every day depending on my mood, but mostly the design was just a list. I chose to do this because everyone is always talking about the science of gratitude. They say people who live in the past have depression and people who live in the future have anxiety. Keeping a gratitude journal is such a good way to focus on what happened that day, and only that day, which allows you to stay present and enjoy the current place you are in, or a few things about the current place you’re in, even if life around you is crashing down. I find making a list really appealing because it takes literally no effort. Some days it takes a little bit of thought, but for the most part it is rather easy to come up with a few things to be grateful for. Most of the time I’m grateful for the dog I pet outside of math class, something that I’m learning that is probably not academic, or an encounter with a person that day. As a student, it is super easy to get caught up in everything you have to do each day and the test you have the next week that everyone is probably going to fail. It’s like we’re going a million miles an hour just trying to graduate and get out of here as fast as possible when that is just not the point. The journey is the beautiful part. There is so much beauty in that test you are studying for, because you are building resilience and learning skills that will last a lifetime. That is something to be grateful for. There is beauty in that day where you were just completely over the top anxious, because you reached out to a mentor and they got to show you so much grace. That is something to be grateful for. As a student, I don’t want to forget that. When I have 13 practice exams I am hoping to get through before my next chem midterm, I don’t want to forget the meaning behind what I’m doing. I don’t want to be living life like it’s some checklist that you have to get over, because that is just missing the point. Keeping track of what you’re grateful for each day allows you to actually appreciate the life you get to live. It might not change the circumstances you’re in, but it completely changes your perspective to a mindset of growth. It reminds you that the little things are the big things. Okay, rant over. Gratitude journals are great. Thanks for coming to my ted talk.

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~

Week 5

My overarching goal was to simply be more intentional with the time I have. Academically I’m shooting for straight As, like everyone else at this school. But I also care more about the effort that I’m putting in than the results, so my main goal for school is to grow in knowledge (even about crap I don’t care about), my ability to get stuff done, and try to be good at things I never thought I could be good at (chem). It has been working. A simple mindset change from “I will die if things don’t work out as I want them to,” to “as long as I do the very best I can with what I have, it will be enough,” has done wonders for my academic career. Fear of failing is worse than actually failing. However, I created a tracker for my anxiety and have been tracking it for the last week, and I realized that even though I’ve been getting so much stuff done and have been living the most abundant, meaningful life ever, I still really screw up sometimes. In fact, last week I really slipped in the anxiety realm. Storytime. I found out I got an 82 on a math test, which is super good in that class especially. But if you studied as much as I did for that test, you would’ve been pissed if you got an 82 as well. So I was upset! Cue the rage poetry. And instead of being compassionate with myself and acknowledging that the best I could was enough, I went down this huge rabbit trail of negativity that ended on, “What’s the point in trying if you’re never going to be as successful as you want to be?” And the whole point in most of my journaling has been to fight for my peace and keep myself from going down that path. So I was more upset with my reaction to the 82 than actually getting an 82. Anyways, the story ended with me going to class and finding out he added my test wrong and that I got a 97. It was like I had been living a lie. But whether that score was real or not, I do not want to live the rest of my life allowing everything that doesn’t go my way to kill me, especially since in life I feel like most things don’t work out the way I want them to and it’s usually better that way. Whenever things don’t work out the way I want them to, I always think that it’s because I did something wrong. But through journaling I’ve been learning that’s not always true. In journaling, I don’t think you can do anything wrong. I skipped days last week. In all honesty, a way to improve my journaling could be to try less. My journal is me trying to find the beauty in the midst of my crap, and me fighting to focus on the positive and stay present. Sometimes I make all of these ambitious goals that don’t happen, and I’m learning that as long as I did my best, it doesn’t matter if I meet none of them. I did 11 practice tests for chem instead of 15. Big deal. And it was a rough midterm, but I know I gave it my everything and I learned a lot while studying for it, so that’s what matters more to me than whether I got an A. My journal reminds me that even if I screw up on the journey, each one of those screw ups will make such good stories to write and tell. And sometimes, what makes the best story is better than what is “right”.

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~

Week 10

I came into this quarter really believing that things were going to change and get better, and man, they really did. It’s still a process. I don’t have my life together, and that’s totally fine. In the beginning when we went around the room and shared, I feel like we all said that we were taking this class because we wanted to get our lives together. I did too. The result of this wasn’t that I got my life together, but that I’ve become so much more appreciative of the life I get to live. What does it actually mean to live a life that is all together? That doesn’t exist. And if it did, that’s not what I would want. Because there is so much beauty in the messy, the emotions, and the setbacks. There are things I can’t change about the life I live. The pressure at this school and the demands of my classes will only become more and more. And I’m not afraid of that anymore, because I’ve really learned this quarter that you can still live your best life through all of that. It starts with training your mind to resort to gratitude rather than slippery slopes of negativity, by letting people in, and letting go of any expectation you might have about how your life is supposed to look and finding everything you love about the life you’re living right now.

Academically, I’m doing so much better than I thought was even possible. First quarter left me pretty discouraged. I honestly can’t believe I have the grades I have right now. They’re not perfect, but even if I tank all my finals next week I will still be in awe of how far I made it. It is possible to get an A in these science classes full of 600 people and 50% class averages. And it is possible to work hard while staying alive. It is possible to take all these classes and still be living rather than just surviving. When you change your perspective, the ordinary things, like a nap, become extraordinary. The little things, like the T.A. who sat with you for an hour, cussing, laughing and suffering with you until you both finally figured out the answer to that post-lab question, become things you appreciate far more than any test score. I’m working harder but smarter, my faith has grown immensely, and I’m slowly becoming more and more okay with the messy and the unknown. My bullet journal has turned into this messy apparatus that captures the most small but significant moments of my life that give it so much beauty through washi tape, colored pens, lists, terrible calligraphy, poems, mood trackers and more washi tape. I’m so incredibly grateful for it.

I let a mentor of mine look through my journal last week. It’s so personal, but I think we need to stop sharing the perfect and begin to allow people to see us for who we really are. To add a cherry on top of this experience, I’ve been so well surrounded by people who love me in all of my messiness. The moral of this story is that there was nothing to fix, but a beauty I needed to find that would make my life all the more meaningful. So I hope that in the next few years that I’m still doing this. After all, there really is no point in working towards ten million things if you’re not happy with where you are right now.

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“Now I only want what is real

To let my heart feel what it feels

Silver, gold, or bronze hold no value here

Where work and rest are equally revered

 

I only want what’s real

I set aside the highlight reel

And I’ll leave my greatest failures on display

With an asterisk

*worthy of love anyways…”

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Here, Now…

On Friday, I went to a poetry night that my fellowship organized. There were lots of fire poems and fire words. Here’s an awkward video of what I shared:

I have a lot of thoughts right now! I just signed a lease to live in a ministry house. I have a giant midterm tomorrow. It’s week 9 of the quarter, which means 2 weeks until finals. And I haven’t written a poem on this blog in a really long time, and the people who shared really inspired me to write another one.

So I wrote one! 🙂

~

Here, now

Your heart is beating. Your legs hold you up.

Your shoulders hold your arms, which bring movement to your wrists

So your fingers can play those instruments

that bring so much joy to Him.

 

Here, now

You work so hard

to keep the night away from your sky

away from the dreams you have

that should work out as long as you try.

 

Here, now

You carry the weight of how much you try

There are bags under your eyes

Where have you lost your peace?

The night has crept into your sky

 

Here, now

Secuirty and rest.

Those things can’t manifest.

Unless you do your best

and let God have all the rest.

 

Here, now

We think controlling is the answer

that perfecting will prevent us

from our fear of the unknown.

Our thoughts race through our minds

planning, and planning,

believing if we just work hard enough

Things will go our way.

And that it is the only way to prevent pain.

 

But here, now

the anxiety is high

It all fell through.

You wonder why it didn’t work out

That goes against your book of rules.

 

Here, now

Equations don’t measure up.

x plus y wasn’t z

your hard work didn’t succeed.

2 + 2 wasn’t four

You prayed every day for breakthrough

Your healing didn’t fall through the floor.

2 times 5 wasn’t ten.

You wonder why God hasn’t healed you yet.

So much suffering in this world

it just doesn’t make sense.

 

7 plus 7 isn’t fourteen

When I say God is good, it makes you angry

You think you’re doing something wrong

You can’t figure out what it is

You think maybe you can work harder to fix all this brokenness—

 

But stop.

Stop.

Stop and pick up that instrument.

Remember who you play it for.

You can work as hard as you want

Will that give your soul rest?

It’s okay to feel stressed

Studying for another test

Got a to-do list piling up

you’re tempted to control and perfect.

But following Jesus with your whole heart

will bring the only real success.

 

Here, now

Your thoughts are becoming more like His thoughts

Your mind is being transformed

Your feelings have become deeper

But you are angry about the right things.

Your dreams are aligned with His dreams

and everything you ask Him for, you receive.

Because now you can finally see things

the way that He sees.

 

Here now,

x plus y isn’t always z

God defies logic all the time.

That’s what gives all the unknowns of our life beauty.

Embrace it, acknowledge it, you can’t avoid the messy.

You can’t heal by avoiding the broken

You can’t find freedom in what is perfect.

That is where the answer lies

to being grateful and content with where you are right here in life.

~

I saw a girl sitting by the service desk where the owner of the AirPods I found in a puddle while walking to class said she would meet me. She got the name, time, and place of where she lost them right.

“Are you Lily?” I asked.

The sweet girl smiled and stood up. “Yes!”

“I think these are yours!” I handed them to her. “You’re going to have to re-pair them to your phone, but yeah!”

“Omygosh! Thank you! Thank you so much! Can I buy you a drink or something to repay you?”

“Awe, no you don’t have to!”

“But I want to!”

We walked outside in front of the market.

“Lily,” I started. She listened.

“I don’t know how you feel about miracles, but this was a miracle. What were the chances that I would be walking to class at that exact time, on that exact path, and that I would actually see them in the puddle and pick them up? What were the chances that they would still work, and that you would find my Facebook post and be able to contact me? You don’t know how many people contacted me asking if they were theirs. People even were commenting asking if the price was negotiable!” I cried laughing. “But none of them were you.”

I took a breath. “So I don’t think this is an accident. If you want to repay me, the best way you can do that would be to take this as a sign that you are loved. That God loves you, and is looking out for you, and is real. I think the reason why all of this happened is because God need you to know just that in this moment.”

“Omygosh I’m going to cry!” She said, and hugged me again.

“Awe. I’m so glad this worked out.”

“Thank you so, so much!” she said, tearing up.

“Of course, girl! I’ll see you around!”

Later that evening she texted me another thank you, that coming to a foreign country and being met by such kindness meant so much to her. She was a foreign exchange student from China.

“You’re such a good person!” She texted me with a bunch of crying emojis afterwards.

This isn’t even about me, I thought, laughing in my dorm. I don’t make things like this happen. God does. They keep happening to me and I don’t even try. This is about her. This is about how much God loves her. I was reminded once again that I don’t need to be anything for God to use me. I just had to walk to class like I normally do. I just had to work from a place of love. I just had to be me. Yes, I was doing a lot better in school now than I was last quarter. But God doesn’t need my grades to use me. He doesn’t need us to do anything. But He wants us anyways. And our main purpose is to bring that love to the people around us. To a bring a love that casts out perfection. A love that shakes up the rules we have for the way life works. A love that tears our walls against Him down.

“You are so loved,” I texted her back. “Please don’t ever forget that.”

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