Thursday, May 10, 2012

Closing Time

I honestly don’t know where to begin here. I’ve had a little under a week to dwell on and think about the year in its entirety, and I’ve realized that one single blog post cannot do justice to what this year ended up becoming.

This is where I’ll start out. After my first year of college, I really didn’t think it could get any better, but I was extremely wrong. God proved me wrong on everything I had expected, and he met expectations that I didn’t even know existed.

And so I’m literally sitting here, speechless. There are honestly a million different things I could talk about, and they all mesh together to form my sophomore year of college, but I think I’ll start with one of the most foundational things that happened, that really holds the year together.

At the beginning of the school year, I was excited to become more involved in my campus church, h2o, but not a single fiber of my being could expect what God really had in store for our church this year.

It all began at fall getaway, which is our weekend retreat that happens in the fall (as the name basically says). The topic of fall getaway this year was lies, or in other words, lies that Satan tells us, and that we naturally believe. It really opened my eyes to all of the lies I had believed for my whole life, and most importantly, it set the foundation for what I would call a movement of freedom.

Yes, this was just the beginning. After fall getaway, this theme of decoding Satan’s lies would lie underneath the woodwork. In other words, we had all been introduced to the idea of being free from these lies, but the topic hadn’t been addressed much past fall getaway. However, the theme lingered on the backburner, in the back of everyone’s minds.

And then, God decided that he wanted to really hit us all in the face with this new idea of freedom, which came at our women’s weekend, a retreat we have for all the women in the church during the month of February.

Let me tell you, I have honestly never been impacted so profoundly by a retreat in my entire life. For me, it was a brand new lookout on life. I had always admired the idea of transparency in my mind, but had never had the faith and confidence to be transparent myself. During this weekend, I truly learned that no one will judge you for who you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve had trials in.

I was also able to identify some of the lies that had been rooted in my life so deeply. There was one instance I remember from as early as preschool. I remember sitting in my preschool teacher’s lap. She asked me to write my name, and I began to cry and say that I couldn’t do it. And so as far back as I can remember, I had been believing the lie that I couldn’t do it- whatever anyone else could do, I couldn’t do the same.
That’s only one of the lies I discovered from my past. But if there’s one thing I learned from all of this that I want all of you to know, it’s that identifying that there is a force against you (in this case, Satan) is one of the most important things you can ever do. By identifying that force, you will be able to gather the resources and tools to fight it. And honestly, it will free you from a lot of things.

Trust me, I know that the idea of an active force such as Satan in your life is a very scary thing, but he is strongest and most powerful when he is working behind the scenes and we are not fighting back. That is why it is so important to know that he is there, so that you can fight back. If it helps, it’s similar to fighting cancer. The cancer is strongest when you don’t know it’s there and you’re not fighting against it. Only when we identify the cancer can we actively fight against it, thus making it weaker.

Anyways, that will probably be one of the most valuable things I ever learn in life. Learning about freedom and becoming free had transformed the way I live, and I would never want to go back to how I was before in a second.

On top of this transformative theme in my life, God also blessed me with the opportunity to be an RA this year. When I moved in on August 7th 2011, I had no idea what to expect. All I remember was that I was lonely, and that the only expectation I had was to have strong relationships with my residents. Being close with my staff wasn’t a priority at the time.

And of course, God crushed that expectation too. As the fall semester began, I learned that God instead had plans for me to be extremely close with my RA staff, which I am so extremely grateful for. I can’t sum up our staff relationship in a blog post, or even a novel, but I can say that every single person on that staff taught me what it means to be there for each other. This year, we were truly a family. From the rough duty nights to the late night Waffle House excursions, we were always there for each other.

And even though I believe that I had much stronger relationships with my staff, I still was able to build some solid relationships with my residents. They taught me what it means to confront people, what it means to be there for someone, and most of all, what it looks like to be an unbiased mediator in a dramatic situation (LOL, I love you girls!).

On top of all these things, God decided to radically answer one of my prayers and desires of my heart at the end of March, which I addressed and rather cryptically discussed in a previous blog post (trust me, there’s a reason for the secrecy, and I’m sure I’ll be able to write about it candidly someday), but ever since then, I’ve grown and learned a ridiculous amount.

Because of it, my prayer life has become dramatically better, which has been really awesome, and I’ve probably experienced the most joy that I can remember. I’ve also written so much that I think I may get carpal tunnel before the age of 30, which really would not be fun, so let’s hope that doesn’t happen!

But because of this happening, my mind was taken completely out of the school zone and into what you can probably call daydreaming all the time. I found myself literally having to trust God in everything school related, which meant writing papers, studying, and taking exams. I was able to take it one week at a time, and I swear, by the grace of God, I was able to make it through the rest of the year. I ended the year with 3 A’s and one B, and I am still astounded at how the Lord truly got me through this.

At the end of the year, I found myself overwhelmed with reflection as I thought about all that God had done. I’ve learned so much, more than I could ever explain or remember, I’ve met people that I will not soon forget, and I’ve made close friends that will definitely still be in my life for a very long time.

And as I went home, I found myself so reluctant to leave my staff and what this year had become. I’ve already cried, and I’ve even written “HAB Staff 2011-2012” in icing on my cherry toaster strudel. Yes, I am that pathetic.

But I think it’s a good thing. I know it means that this year has meant a lot to me and made an everlasting impact on me. And again, I have to thank my mom for making me apply to Bowling Green, because I love it, I’ve learned so much, and I would never want to be anywhere else.

I believe this is an appropriate quote to end my post with. It’s from the song “Closing Time,” which is what the post is named. The lyric goes, “Closing Time, every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” I feel like this is so appropriate. I’ve had such an awesome year, and I am so blessed, but the closing of this year leaves the door open for new beginnings this summer and next year.

This summer, I will be going to Colorado for 11 weeks to work at the YMCA of the Rockies and participate in a program called Leadership Training, which is through the church I go to in Bowling Green. I am so excited for this, and I know God is going to teach me so much and blow away my expectations again.

As for next year, things will be different, but it will be good, because I know by closing some doors, the Lord is opening up new doors in my life for even better things to happen. Or, who knows what he’ll even do. Sometimes, I think this is too good to be true, but all I can do is wait and see what God will do next.

Thank you for reading in on my life and what I write about. I hope you’ve learned something, and I hope this has encouraged you.

Luke 18:19- “And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” To God be all the glory.

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