It’s surprising how much a trip to the lake teaches. As I listen to the water crashing on the shore due to increased traffic I can’t help but think about how it is Sunday and how up into last year, I would never have let my family spend a Sunday on the lake, or anywhere but church for that matter. Second I realize why I was afraid of boats until last weekend: deep water, or water that is not clear, reminds me of death.
Living with my cousins these last almost two weeks has retrieved many memories, my move to Texas three years ago, buried into my subconscious. Going into this summer my goal was to better connect with my family that is now local, but thus far it is proving instead that I am getting to know myself better. I haven’t been to church for service, or even listened to a sermon, since May 4th. For my Criswellian’s reading this, yes that’s two chapel services, and three normal Sunday services I haven’t attended. Years ago this would have caused me anxiety as it would mean I missed communion, an opportunity to show my face as someone willing to serve, and seeing my friends, but after my first two semesters in school I’m learning that its not about the place of worship but the heart of the individual. That’s something I understood from a factual perspective but didn’t necessarily “get”. The only problem I have now is that I know my heart isn’t where it needs to be, and I don’t know how to get it there.
Back in June and July of 2012 I experienced my first inkling of a calling to ministry, as I suffered the lost of two very dear friendships that were severed by immature decisions and God’s will. Between my sister going to camps and both my parents working I found myself alone one morning in a town where I had no friends and was slowly losing two I wanted so badly to keep. As I tried to keep myself busy with laundry and dishes, I climbed up on our counter to wait for the dishes to finish drying and drank tea. As I was about to finish my cup, I felt a shift in my circumstances and put my phone face down so that I could no longer see the incoming texts from both parties. I was done. I had hit my breaking point. I finished my cup of tea, and instead of getting down when the dishwasher stopped, I laid down on the counter-top the cold granite on my face, and I prayed. I prayed for forgiveness as I had placed these two relationships above God’s and mine. I prayed that I would not be alone anymore. I prayed that things would turn out better. I prayed for my friends. And God came to me and laid a reassuring hand on my heart. I didn’t feel as lonely, and I felt that God would lead me to a better place in the coming weeks. Though I did not find many more friendships to fill the emptiness I felt in the worldly realm, I felt peace in my relationship with God, and was blessed with what I came to know as the closest my relationship with God has been to this day. This closeness would continue until the middle of my junior year, when I began to sink into a complacent state with my walk. Instead of reaching out for help I suppressed this feeling because I had never been taught otherwise, and continued to sink further and further until I questioned Christianity completely.
Through the guidance that year of Troy and Michelle Doucette as well as Jared and Ashley Crewse taught me the importance of transparency, and that it is okay to have questions about Christ and Christianity. My senior year I began to feel God pulling on my heart to recenter myself, but didn’t find time in such a hectic world of school, work, and not so surprisingly church. I was to busy with church to refocus on God… I wanted to, but I hit a point where I didn’t know how anymore. Senior year ended and God’s pull grew stronger, while my interests pulled me farther. Finally the end of July beginning of August God grabbed my full attention, after suffering from a concussion and upper respiratory infection after attending three church camps back to back, I was forced to stop and listen to Him as I laid in bed unable to move for five days. Yes my connection to God’s plan was fully there at the time, but I was still not in that place where God and I talked everyday and I felt full reliance on Him despite all the reasons He had presented to me.
The middle of August I started at Criswell where my doubts about attending there where erased the night of Housing Orientation, where I found an unexpected support group that would end up carrying me to this day. Through this group I have found many others who are encouraging, loving, supporting, and just all around their when I need a reality check. It is easy for me to replace my need to speak with God, with a conversation found in one of these friends, but the thirst is not quenched. Only consultations with God help. Yet, why do I feel a weight that I need more? Why do I feel that God is distant? I want to draw near to Him, to have a better relationship than two years ago, but I find the Bible boring, and I have a horrible hard time shutting up when I try to listen to God. I have prayed for help focusing, but it hasn’t come. I have prayed for the whole in my heart where I found security from a guy off and on for four years, to be healed but I still feel the pain when I think of him. I have begin to remind myself that God will provide me with what I need, when I really need it, but it’s hard not to dwell on the negative, one of my many character flaws. I’m seeking a better relationship with Christ not because it is what is expected of me, not because I want to serve in ministry, but because I know He is the only way I will ever find fulfillment.
Jesus laid His lift on the line for me. He was alone in the garden, because the disciples fell asleep. He was mocked. He endured tests by the Pharisees, and He performed miracles to save those who did not believe in Him. Jesus led the way for me, and I owe it to the man that would endure all these things, to seek a better relationship with Him. I want a better relationship with Jesus, and I can only do that by showing Him who I am, and learning who He is. I owe it to Him to look at everyday and thank Him for the sun, for a cool breeze, a moment where the pain doesn’t hurt so much, a day I am able to get out of bed because the depression is gone, a friend when I need company, an opportunity to live with and grow closer to my family, and a job where I can teach children the truth about Christ. That’s what I will do.