in light of the good.

So I actually started writing this post a few weeks ago when the semester had just begun, intending for it to be about the realization that I’ve been surrounded by goodness in so many ways this semester — I have a great relationship and wonderful friendships, I’m interning for an amazing organization, I’m surrounded by people seeking to help me in figuring out this next phase of my life, and yet in the midst of all of it, I experience so many moments where I just feel miserable.  Writing this post has continually been pushed to the bottom of a to-do list that would just about send me into a tailspin if I tried to digest it all at once, and while I have long held the notion that the second semester of my senior year would consist of less classes and more time to enjoy this last little bit of college, I have been completely overwhelmed with the number of commitments I have taken on this semester.

Maybe it’s really that in light of the good, the bad should actually be better — but I haven’t felt that way.

This past weekend I had Summer Project reunion, which was absolutely amazing in so many ways.  We haven’t been together as a team since we left New York City at the beginning of July, so having the opportunity to come together again just felt like the greatest privilege.  I walked into reunion with the same quiet, hardened heart that I’ve had since this semester began, so when we all sat down to talk about how God has been working in our lives since we left project, I didn’t even want to talk about it.

Our leaders asked us what we missed most about being in New York City for those 5 weeks this past summer, and people talked about various aspects of the trip: living in the city, hearing the beliefs of so many different people, constantly being poured into by our teammates, and so on.  All I could think was, I miss how easy it was to be the person I wanted to be — the person that God had been making me into all this time.  I wanted to cry, because in so many ways it just feels like the person I was this summer was so much stronger and so much more willing to acknowledge the good than to mull over the bad.  I feel like I’ve regressed back to the mindset that I praised God for setting me free from last summer, and no matter how many times I try to recite to myself the lessons I learned during that time, I can’t rise above it.

We broke into smaller groups later, and I told my group about my overwhelming semester and how I felt like it had affected all of the good things that should be making this time easier to handle.  I talked about how it wasn’t that I believed God wasn’t working or even that He wasn’t near — I have seen Him working through various situations in the past month, but the bigger issue was that I didn’t feel like I even had the time to acknowledge it. My to-do list was too long to stop for just about anything, and I didn’t feel like that was going to change anytime soon.

I was just over it all, quite honestly. I was having the best time with my friends from project, but I steered far away from any question having to do with how God was working in my life, because I just didn’t want to answer it.  A few hours later when I was doing homework in our cabin, my leader handed me an envelope with a note in it that I had written to myself during project.  I had completely forgotten that letter existed, and I just stared at the envelope for a minute trying to remember what I could have possibly written down at the time.

It started off by my rambling on about how I wish I knew where I was right now, how I hoped that my life was filled with so much more clarity than I had in that moment.  But the next sentence was one that, back in June, I couldn’t have imagined would have so much impact at the most perfect time.  It said:

“I want to encourage you to never forget that this person right now — the one who took a step of faith and listened to God when He asked me to give up control — she is still in you. Sometimes it feels like the people we used to be have somehow left us, but that is not true. God is living in you and through you, and as He continues to shape your heart, He will make you more like yourself than you have ever been before.”

And it gets better:

“So where are you right now? I wish I knew. All I know is that you’re okay, even when you’re not; you are strong, even when you are not; you are loved, even when you’re not loving; and you are forgiven by God Himself. It scares me to think about where you’re at, but that’s the way it is with the unknown. But we will be okay — whatever is happening right now, whatever the future holds, we will be okay — because God is so, so good.”

So here’s the thing: in light of all of the good things happening right now, they can’t replace the ultimate good.  I’ve been so confused about why I can’t just focus on the blessings happening in my life in an effort to forget about how overwhelmed I am, and it’s because my focus can’t be on God’s blessings, it has to be on God Himself.  Because it’s only in the light of the ultimate good that our darkness is actually exposed, and it has to be that way for God to make us who He has always planned for us to be.  It doesn’t make life now any easier, it just makes it worth it.

I’m so amazed by the Lord’s willingness to continue pounding this lesson into me, no matter how many times I abandon it.  I thought that so much of my growth would take place during those 5 weeks in New York City, but so much of it has actually happened post-project, and I’m so grateful that He is continuing to use a time that meant so much to me to remind me of who I am in Him.

And of all days, my Timehop app showed me this post from one year ago today:

photo (1)

If only I had known. Oh, and to end this post perfectly, here’s a snapshot from a weekend that I’ll never forget:

reunion

“And I am sure of this: that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

-Phillipians 1:6

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