Dec 19, 2007

Open Up

Let's be honest here. I'm glad to be away from school. I like school for the people. I don't even mind the school part so much. I had a good last semester. I did well in my classes despite my complete lack of work ethic. Yet even when I love the people at school, I wind up feeling pretty lonely. There's not a whole lot of accountability at school...and seeing as I spend the majority of my year there, I should have some, right? Right.

So I came home for break. This is the first break that feels like I've come back from college. I didn't come home very often this semester, and I get to see people with whom I don't normally spend a lot of time. I spent the first few days seeing people nonstop. I was busy, and I liked it. It felt good to have a lot of people to see and catch up with. I had good conversations. I went to a 2 and 1/2 hour worship service where I sat and journaled while people around me sang and danced. And it felt right.

I have continued to attend Colonial despite living 40 minutes away. I drove back every Sunday, and I liked it. Soma Christou was becoming a place that I felt a strong connection with God. Yet even then, I sat back and watched people around me and realized I was probably 7-10 years younger at least than probably everyone there. I was one of the few who was not married. And that was okay with me...most of the time. I listened to sermons promoting life groups, a little flock to encourage community amongst a large congregation. Sounded great - too bad I couldn't come back another day of the week. Not to mention that I am in a completely different life stage than everyone else. So I began to feel lonely even there. Then the service ended, and they still meet to pray. But I wonder - is my place there? I have felt adamant about supporting a church that has supported me since the day my family moved to Kansas City. I wasn't going to go to a church where I felt the worship was awesome or was a "cool" place to be. I wanted to go to a community, a body that I felt connected to and loved by. I wanted to be a part of a family that challenged me and fed me.

Ever since we moved to Kansas City, I have been searching for a place. I was desperately seeking somewhere safe that I felt included. I wanted a community. I wanted a little flock. Blue Valley North was anything but that. I counted down the years, semesters, months, days to graduation. Certainly college would be better. Youth group held friendships that I can't imagine being without - it held relationships that I will always love and do my best to feed. Jewell seemed to be the place for me. I joined a sorority because I felt a strong connection with the girls I met - and they made me feel like I was important. There were shepherds on each hall, there to lead bible studies and to be spiritual leaders. The campus ministry was supposed to have a great community. And part of the disconnect is my fault - my unwillingness to participate. But part of it was born from the watered-down version of a relationship with Christ. I rarely heard the name Jesus for fear of offending anyone. The community I expected to find at college - which some family and friends had managed to find - was not what I found. I church hopped last year, never quite finding the right place.

The summer hits - and Summer Staff begins. And the faithfulness of God shines through. HERE I found a community I am not sure I will ever see again. Try living with 15 other college kids that pursue God in ways you have never seen, who live out their faith in ways that inspired and challenged me, who made you laugh every moment and held you when you cried. I have never seen such encouragement for others like I did in those ten weeks. Moving in was the most unnerving and intimidating day I have ever lived; moving out was one of the saddest and most painful days of my life. I felt a community unlike any other: Audrey, Katie, Alee, Mara, Adrienne, Lindsey, Julie, Mallory, Chris, Billy, Kyle, Dylan, Jon, Aaron, Andrew - you have changed me for the better. I miss living with you every day.

Why is it that everyone goes through life desiring to be accepted by others, yet more often than not we are too afraid to admit it? No one wants to admit they need anything or anyone because it shows some vulnerability and some weakness. Yet here I sit, troubled over the loneliness in my heart. Is it necessary? Is it okay to feel this way? Should God not be enough for me? Yet I am an imperfect person...I will never know the fullness of a relationship with Him because my "self" gets in the way. It's a constant struggle of dying to self, of becoming less so He may become more. I think it's normal to be lonely. I think it's normal to want others to accept you. Doesn't mean it was how we were intended to be. Donald Miller talks about the lifeboat mentality and that if we just let the fact that God says we are important reign, we wouldn't be so anxious to feel accepted by other people. Good concept, but I don't think we'll ever get there.

I sound a little negative, don't I? I actually feel a little more hopeful. I think it's in times of recognition of weakness that we begin to open ourselves to the work of God. The more I tell Him I'm lonely, the closer I am to understanding His constant presence. I went to Homer's tonight to try and sort through my mess of a mind. I found this and it stuck with me:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139: 23-24)

I want this to be real. I want to open my heart to Him so He can begin a good work. To see my anxieties and to lead me in the way everlasting. I'm a work in progress; I'm glad we have a patient, ever-loving, faithful, true God. I'm glad to be in a lonely place because I know that He's here. It's just a matter of opening myself up a little bit more everyday.

Dec 12, 2007

Pointless Post #1

I very much dislike posting without a specific purpose, but here it goes.

I have two more finals. I thought I was supposed to take one today at 11 - turns out it's TOMORROW at 11. Drat. I thought I would be done tonight at 5. I do have Arabic at 3. Mah ah sallaamah!

I know that finals week is always a stressful time for people, but I have to tell you, I love finals week. Primarily because Late Night Breakfast is during finals week. It's one of my favorite things about Jewell. But also, I don't have homework, just some last minute cramming. But when you walk out of the class - the weight comes off a little, and I have to smile. I haven't yet experienced the fear of "I am going to fail out of this class". That's not meant to sound cocky - just thankful. I am glad I haven't experienced that.

So, tomorrow at 1 I will be able to say I am 3/8 done with college. I will be able to say I am in nursing school. I am a proud owner of a stethoscope. I don't know how to use it but I sure do look official. I will be able to clean my room, pack my bags, sleep a lot, help other people study, and check out everyone on my hall. Friday at 5 I close up the dorm. Just me. Just kidding. There will be 9 of us. I am so excited to be home, sleeping in my bed, getting ready for Christmas, going to Homer's, seeing my friends. I will be sad to leave the lights at Jewell and the wonderful friends I have here.

Here's hoping the ice doesn't keep me away.