Saturday, May 22, 2010

junior year reflection

I just erased 631 words I had written a couple weeks ago of a reflection of this year because I just wasn’t satisfied with it. And now I keep writing things and erasing them. I don’t know what my problem is. But I know I need to write to process this year. And I really want to publicly share it because it’s been a significant year in my life in a lot of ways.

Though particular events and happenings first semester are a bit blurry (I have a horrible memory), if I could describe me that semester I would say fearful, and striving…but for what? When my social life used to pretty much trump my grades (hey, as long as I keep a 3.2 I keep my academic scholarship so why work for a 4.0? was my philosophy), I worked harder than I ever have before and ended up with straight A’s. Yeah, I felt accomplished and my parents were proud of me, but at the end of that semester I remember talking to Lorah and feeling unsatisfied. I wondered what had changed in me and why I had become more school-focused than people-focused. And I don’t think I realized then, at that point of reflection, what I realize now. I was hiding behind my schoolwork. I felt safe; I felt in control. At the beginning of the semester I sought out community, relationships, being deeply involved in ministries…and God worked in my heart so much during spiritual renewal week in September. And I’m not sure what happened…maybe a series of events, or maybe it was me just trying to shut out God...trying to turn off the fire within me because I didn't know exactly what to do with it…but at some point in the semester, I just closed myself off. I don’t know if people noticed, and it wasn’t like I consciously made this decision, but I did close myself off. I kept myself at a safe distance so I wouldn’t get hurt, so life wasn’t messy, so I could shy away a little bit from vulnerability. Schoolwork was simultaneously like a defense mechanism and source of pride. And I remember striving in other areas…striving to be a good small group leader by having thoroughly laid out discussion questions and often stressing over having everything prepared and assigning Bible passages to read...striving to maintain a busy schedule when I didn’t even want my life to be scheduled at all…

Then I got on a plane and found myself several hours later in Ethiopia. It was amazing, and I have a whole other blog/note attributed to that trip so I will spare the details. But God transformed me there…I felt exposed and I couldn’t hide behind anything. He forced me out of this fearful mentality and allowed me to experience his love and grace and beauty through relationships, through His creation, through making music for Him. And I wasn’t striving on my own accord; I was finally letting God work through me. It was a daily surrender of control.

Going into second semester, I had so much to process about the whole experience. I also had zero motivation for school and seriously wondered how I would make it through the semester when all I wanted to do was go back to Ethiopia. I knew this would be a challenging semester academically and my thematic unit for Methods loomed in the very near future. The good thing was, I had learned lessons in Ethiopia about giving up control and of living fearlessly, knowing that whatever was to come, God would be with me. And He was. It was far from easy to give Him control, to live life without fear and worries. Did I always succeed at that? Heck no. But when I did let go and trust, there was this amazing freedom in it. And when I chose to listen to God's leading, I found peace. This semester was hard. Painful. I dealt with a lot of sickness. I hated a couple of my classes, and I didn’t end up with straight A’s. Small group sessions often became “We’re just going to talk about life.” I didn’t ever get over to the nursing home this semester...

But give me second semester over first any day. Why? Because I stopped fearing, I stopped striving, I risked, I loved, I laughed a whole lot more, I cried a whole lot more, I was vulnerable and also allowed myself to listen more to other people, I didn't do things because I felt it was the good Christian thing to do, and I started to learn to discern my own voice from God’s.

Right now, I am excited about life. As much as I love Taylor, I am excited to be away from the Taylor subculture for awhile. I am excited to live in a community of people whom I don’t know or don’t really know well at all. I am excited for the spiritual challenge this summer will bring. I am excited for the challenge student teaching will be in the fall, especially in an IPS school. I am excited to find an apartment and live in Indy with two close friends. And I am excited for the journey ahead. Why? Because it’s out of my hands. : )