|(taken on my iPhone)|
Emory University, Spring 2015
Right before spring break (about two weeks ago or so), I discovered Little City Mag, an online publication, full of honest, everyday struggles and encouragements written by Christians. Reading through these posts is so soothing, and I was inspired to start writing my own, personal versions of these articles here. I'm titling this series, which you can expect every now and then, "Sunday Dialogues" - not that living a Christian life is restricted to Sundays - that, in fact, is the opposite of what we're called to do - but because I think it'll be a nice way to enter a week full of potential ups and downs. In other words, it'll be a nice way to frame our mindset! What you can expect from each Sunday Dialogue is me sharing a personal story, often one that involves a struggle, that's capped off with encouragement and a song recommendation, something that really speaks personally to whatever I share in that post.
So for the very first Sunday Dialogue, I want to flash back to this very same time last year: Spring 2016.
I was at Emory, a school in Atlanta, and in the midst of transferring out. To where? I didn't know yet, and being asked that, even by the kindest of friends who were genuinely curious and concerned, constantly reminded me that my proximate future was unknown to me. I'm the kind of person who researches every little bit about a place before traveling there; I can't not know what to expect, so as you may predict, the fear of the unknown really wore away at me.
I felt insecure around my classmates who knew exactly where they'd be the following semester. I felt left out when my friends gathered around to talk about how class enrollment went. Worst of all, I was torn between wanting to make the most out of my time with the people around me, and feeling apathetic towards the very same relationships, because they'd be forever changed or, very likely, gone, in just a few weeks.
Remember how we used to characterize conflicts in novels as "Person vs Person", "Person vs Environment", "Person vs Self"?
This was a "Person vs Self" conflict...one that really ate away at me. With other conflicts, solutions are often more external or tangible: an apology, an invention to solve a problem... these "Person vs Self" conflicts aren't as easy to solve. There are moments of peace, but then those thoughts, whatever they may be, come back, knocking at your door, haunting you. A lot of it is self-inflicted, whether we mean to or not, and there's no escaping from yourself.
I wish I could offer an easy way out, but, as we all know, there aren't any easy fixes that will provide lasting satisfaction. Those temporary band-aids will come off and expose the wound once again, deepening them, leaving a lasting scar...most scar tissues can't return to their original functions, and that's not what we want to happen.
So what did I do, and what do I still do when I get stuck in times like this?
"Perpetual Worship", as Louie Giglio once stated (in a sermon that I just so happened to watch during this rough patch - funny how God works that way, right?). For me, this meant listening, and re-listening, and re-listening, over, and over, and over again, to one song whose lyrics penetrated deeply into me.
That song is called "Keep Making Me", and it's by the Sidewalk Prophets. The lyrics articulated my feelings, my conflict, and really, any struggle out there, so beautifully:
" 'til you are my one desire, 'til you are my one true love, 'til you are my breath, my everything, Lord please keep making me."
There is reason for conflict. There is meaning in a struggle. It's a test of trust, and surpassing whatever that is crushing you means holding fast to Him and holding out for His plans to follow through. He always has the best intentions for us, so even those challenges He places in our lives are strategic, meaningful, and empowering. They were meant for us. They teach us to become stronger, more mature, and wiser. They shorten that distance in our relationships with Him, because it's these very moments that remind us that He is in control, that He is so good, that we need Him.
This song doesn't get played on my phone nearly as often as it used to be, but every time it comes on, I'm transported back to the pain, heartache, and insecurity I felt that spring...I'm also transported back to the desperate need for Him, because He's the only one who could carry me through it.
If you're in the midst of a trust fall right now, take comfort in knowing that He is going to catch you. This fall may seem endless, it may seem lonely, but don't give up. He's there, He's listening, He cares, and He knows the light that's at the end of the tunnel.
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23)I can't think of a better way to end the first Sunday Dialogue with the very song that carried me through Spring 2016: