On March 15th, I had a friend take the photo you see to your right. Upon looking at the picture, I realized that I hadn’t smiled like that in a really long time. I grabbed my phone and went to post an Instagram story. It said, “My heart is so full by the grace of the Lord … I don’t remember when the last time I smiled like this was. But God is so good, and loves me so fully; I have found the people, through Him, that make me this happy.” I couldn’t tell you exactly why I didn’t post that picture, but I think it has to do with where I was in confidence with Christ at that moment.
I spent most of last term in a rough place. I truly had no idea why I was at Vanderbilt. I was constantly asking myself, “What’s the point of all this?” “What am I supposed to be learning?” “Why did God put me here, specifically?” I felt lost, confused, and very alone.
At the time, I had been consistently attending a Christian Ministry group on campus, and while I enjoyed going, I was simply absorbing the information rather than truly internalizing it. And, at the time, I had no idea that these were not the same thing.
I grew up in a decently religious family, I’ve gone to Catholic Mass every (okay, most) Sundays for my entire life, and I have always considered myself a follower of Jesus. But, looking back on this, I don’t truly think I had received Christ. Why? Well, if I truly knew the power of the Holy Spirit and the overwhelming love of God, I don’t think I would’ve been asking myself why He placed me at Vanderbilt.
The picture you see above was taken a few days after one of my Christian Large Group meetings. The teaching that day was on the Holy Spirit, the one part of the Holy Trinity that no one had ever really taken the time to explain to me. Our Large Group leader explained the Holy Spirit as the convicter, the comforter, the guide of your life. The word “convicter” stuck out to me, and he continued to say that the Holy Spirit is the person that allows you to enter moments of darkness and despair in order to guide you back to the light of the Lord. He said, “The Holy Spirit is what says to us ‘To God, To God, To God. Turn to God.'” This explanation was life changing for me. I felt, in that moment, a hole in my heart begin to close. I felt, in that moment, the Holy Spirit well up inside me and say “THIS. This is why you were in such a place of darkness last term. Because you needed to submit yourself–fully, entirely, whole-heartedly–to God.”