Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rush Week, and a Bit of Reflecting

This week, I walked through campus for the first time all summer. 
(Which is interesting, considering that I work on campus... I just stayed in my office building and around the periphery.) 

And oddly, it was a great feeling. 

Usually, at the start of a new semester I'm always annoyed with the hoards of students that come flooding in from summer break and crowd up the student union. I dread starting classes and the overwhelming busyness that has characterized almost every semester of my undergraduate career. I find myself wishing I could go back to the start of summer break.

But today, walking through campus felt exciting. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that this will be my last semester as an undergrad, or maybe it has to do with the fact that I have such a different perspective about everything these days.

But whatever the reason, I am excited.
I'm excited to be in a classroom learning about things I'm interested in again; I'm excited for Chi Alpha to start; I'm excited to be surrounded by people all day.
I'm excited to see what this semester is going to bring. Maybe an even better word is expectant.

I'm expectant for the adventure that this new semester is going to be, for the good things it will bring.

It's so crazy to think that this is really it - this is my last semester as an undergraduate. I remember getting here four years ago and feeling like college was going to last forever, and now here I am, at the brink of graduation wondering where all the time went.
I have truly loved my time here. I have learned and grown and experienced and become an adult; I've formed relationships that will truly last for the rest of my life.

And now, I find myself at yet another pivotal juncture of transition. This semester, I'm going to apply to nursing school. I'm going to quit my job. I'm going to either be accepted to nursing school or rejected, and I'm going to have to decide what my next job will be. This semester, I'm going to be constantly challenged to take leaps of faith, to trust in the Lord's plans and purposes for my life, to remember that even when things don't look the way I think they should, I'm exactly where I need to be.

I'm not going to lie - I'm a little bit apprehensive. A lot of things are changing, and have been changing. But I have heard so many people recently say that you should never worry about what you can't control. And it's so true - I have no idea what will happen once I submit my application to nursing school. I have no idea where my money is going to come from when I quit my job in December (for the record, my bosses are aware that this is happening).

But I do know that right now, I am stepping into my final semester of being a Physiology student at the University of Arizona. I have one more semester to pour into my campus ministry, Chi Alpha; one more semester filled with opportunities to be a light to my campus, in my classrooms and with my classmates.

And I want to embrace every. single. moment.

I have very few regrets, but one of them is central to every area of my life - to my past relationship with my ex-boyfriend, to the times that I got to spend with family outside of school, even to my time here at the UofA as a student. And it is that, so often, I didn't cherish every moment that I had in that place. And I regret that grievously.

So it seems that that's my new motto in life, really - if you look back at previous entries I've written, they are riddled with this challenge:

No matter where you're at, or how far away you seem to be from where you want to be, or how ordinary what you're doing might seem,

Cherish every moment. Savor your right now. COMMIT TO THIS PART OF YOUR JOURNEY.

I know I want to.

And all that, just from walking through a crowd of 5,000 sorority girls in the student union during Rush Week. My goodness. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

When Things Change

Today, I can't help but be reminded of a lot of things that are no longer part of my life. It's one of those days that used to be significant but isn't anymore, a day that used to mean something wonderful but now is just another day.

Which brings me to think about change - about the nature of change, how much it impacts us, and how much has changed in my own life in such a short amount of time. 

Change is so hard to deal with, especially when you have to experience a change that takes you from somewhere you want to be to somewhere you didn't plan on being at all. I know very few people, if any, who look forward to change or enjoy it. We get comfortable with the way things are, and we get attached to the way we like things to be, and I know I can say for myself that so often, I come to depend on the relationships I have.

So then, when something changes, it is so uncomfortable. To say the very least. Depending on where your identity lies, it can be earth-shattering.

In this current season of my life where everything has been changing - my relationships, my plans, my routines, my priorities, even the place I live and who I live with - I have been presented with a great challenge: how will I handle the change in my life?

Will I run from it? Will I let the disbelief that I ended up in a place so far from where I had thought I would be hold me still, stuck in a moment that I can't get out of? Will I be angry that things didn't go my way? Will I resist, taking the risk of missing out on beautiful new opportunities? Will I be resentful? Bitter, even?
I'd be lying if I said I haven't struggled with every single one of those.

OR -

Will I embrace the change? Will I square my shoulders, and resolve to make the most of the season that I'm in - regardless that I hadn't planned on being there in the first place? Will I see all of these new, different, unfamiliar things in my life as new adventures? Will I let go of my attachment to how things used to be, and forge headlong into the way things are, the way they will be? Will I trust that I serve a God who has beautiful plans for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future? Will I trust that He knows the desires of my heart better than I do, and that only beautiful things are in store for me if I do trust Him?

I'd like to be able to say that this is the attitude I've had consistently about all of the recent changes in my life, but that's so not the case. When your life gets turned upside down, I think your first instinct is just to survive. Honestly, this positive outlook on change is coming with time, with perspective, and with a lot of prayer. I am very much the kind of person who likes to make my plans and stick to them, the kind of person who likes to know what's happening and be in control. But I've realized that sometimes - oftentimes- you have to just accept that you (ironically) can't change everything that's changing, and so you have to just go with it.

And attitude is everything, I think, when it comes to handling situations that make you uncomfortable. Situations that challenge your normal, that take you out of your comfort zone.

But I hear that's where the magic happens - outside of your comfort zone. Outside of your box. You don't get to have adventures when you sit on the couch day after day - emotionally, or physically!

So that is my heart for this time of change, of transition - to figure out how to make the most of it. To embrace the new routines, the new relationships, the new way that everything feels. To be expectant of greater things ahead than anything I've left behind. To just keep swimming. And I'm finding that sometimes, change can be really, really good.

What changes are you navigating in life?

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. - Psalm 18:2

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Little Peace In A Lot Of Craziness

"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him. The Lord is good to those who hope in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."

Lamentations 3:21-25

I read this verse and a warm peace spreads through my heart.

Life has been so wonderfully hectic as of late, and I have been so thankful for the fullness that I have experienced every single day for the past few months. But when the roar of my busyness dies down to a gentle hum, I'm left with my thoughts and my emotions and not much else (unless I'm filling in the quiet with the awkward and unrefined strums of my guitar). And it's then that I'm faced with a choice: where do I fix my eyes? On what do I set my heart?

I'd be a dirty liar if I said I haven't wallowed in my emotions or become overwhelmed with my thoughts, and many times. But what I'm learning is that I have the choice "to get unstuck from my wilderness," as my pastor would say. 
I count a lot of things as losses, in this season that I am walking through. I do. This has most certainly been a desert season, a period of struggle and lessons and challenges. 

But I don't want to be like the Israelites after they left Egypt. Most people know that they wandered the desert for 40 years before they entered the Promised Land - BUT. Did you know? God called them into the Promised Land after just two. TWO YEARS!!! They spent an extra 38 years wandering through the wilderness because they were disobedient, because they took their eyes off of God and let themselves doubt. What the heck!!! (You can read about this in Deuteronomy 1). 

I don't want that. I don't want to be stuck in my desert season because I am not trusting in God's faithfulness and provision, because I am not obedient. 

So when I get lonely, or sad, or a little too emotional (because let's face it, this happens to me daily - with any kind of emotion, not just sadness), I just focus on these words. On this truth. That the Lord is enough, that he is so good, that he is always the same.

And oh, friends, there is so much freedom in that.