Every so often there’s an image or sound clip that goes viral on the internet with the tag “what colors do you see?” or “what word do you hear?” The most famous examples of these fads, I think, are the photo of an ugly lace dress that couldn’t decide if it was black and blue or white and gold, and the sound clip that either said “Laurel” or “Yanny.” Personally, I find these things pretty dumb, but still, they really got under my skin. I always saw a blue and black dress, and it bothered me that I couldn’t see white and gold. Similarly, I heard “Yanny,” and was quite annoyed that I could never hear “Laurel.”
It honestly made me feel like something was wrong with me. Why can all of my friends hear one word and I’m hearing another? Why do they see white and gold, but I’m only able to see black and blue? If I can’t see the “right” colors, or hear the “right” word, is my sight and hearing invalid? I know I’m making this childish fad out to be a big deal, but the message it carries honestly is a big deal.
Some people absolutely love going to the gym. I am not one of those people. At least, before last week I wasn’t.
It’s just always been hard for me to see the appeal of working out. It’s not that I totally hate the gym, but if I don’t go for a long time, I never want to go back. Occasionally, if someone really encourages me to workout, I guess I’ll force myself to go. But the minute I get out of a cycle, I completely dread everything related to the gym. If someone so much as mentions a workout, I cringe. Please, please, stop talking about the gym. I haven’t been in forever. I seriously can’t go back.
That’s how my unsent text message read – “hey stranger.” I paused momentarily, considering whether sending this text was a good idea. I decided it wasn’t, but I did it anyway. As I hit send, “hey stranger” transformed into an ominous blue text box hovering over the word “delivered.” My words were no longer simply evidence of contemplation – that is, they were not simply black letters in a text bar waiting to be sent. I robbed them of the option that they may become one of those “I’ve thought about sending this forever” texts. Their existence as they knew it was over; and, yet, somehow their life had just begun.
As I near closer and closer to leaving for my mission, I’ve begun to get more and more nervous. Sometimes I feel like no matter how much I tell myself to trust in the Lord, I still worry. I think this is probably normal—a symptom of the often dangerous and scary world we live in. Anxiety builds as my mind floods with the possibilities of what can go wrong when on mission to a foreign country. These thoughts can sometimes overwhelm my mind so much as to almost push the call to mission out of my head entirely. “Go. You are worthy, you are needed,” gets squashed by “Am I really good enough for this? Should I really be going?” We all have weak spots where the dark side of life pokes and prods us. For me, that spot is uncertainty; for me, evil, or the thing that allows me to question God, is anxiety.
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.”
I know it’s already February, but since I’ve created this blog, I wanted to take 2019 to focus on writing more. I thought if I decorated a Bullet Journal, I might be more encouraged to pick it up and start writing. Even if I had no ideas about what to write, I could look at my front page, and hopefully something would come to me.
The inside cover of my Bullet Journal says “the year to…” with a graphic of a few things I wanted to remind myself of this year. Some of these things are directly linked to my writing, and some are not. But they’re all important to my goals and my use of that journal, so I thought I would explain what each of the graphics mean.
In the fall of my Senior year, I embarked on an extremely un-epic journey of several college tours (sporting my Stans, of course). I had no idea where I wanted to go to school, so I decided to cram five tours into the span of six days.
I started with a drive from NJ to DE, then packed my bags for a train ride to Charlottesville, VA the next morning. My mom and I got off the train in Charlottesville, took an Uber to the Enterprise Car pick-up, and attempted to pull open the door. When the door wouldn’t budge, we realized the pick-up closed at 2:00pm on Sundays, and we were just 20 minutes too late… the already stressful weekend was not off to a good start.