twenty-one

13720626_10210068458211911_1508416085_oI recently turned 21, and as I’m slowly entering into adulthood, I find myself looking back on this past year and how much I have grown in the midst of all the chaos. Going into my junior year this past fall, I was an executive officer for 2 positions for one of my organizations, and I was leading in 3 different parts of my college ministry. I didn’t realize it at first but that was a lot on my plate.

As the school year progressed, leadership was hard as we were trying to find our groove while transitioning into a completely different team dynamic from the year before. Countless arguments with stubborn views and opinions that were filled with frustration, hurt, and anger were had, and it was just tiring overall. Eventually, things were resolved, and I’m so thankful that we were all constantly striving for unity despite our misunderstandings and lack of communication. Somewhere along the line, I lost sight of why I wanted to do leadership. I felt inadequate in my abilities, and I found myself caring more about what other people thought than focusing my attention and efforts towards God. The year continued and leadership got better! Applications for leadership came around the corner, and I found myself feeling jaded and tired from having to work with people and resolve conflict to what felt like a daily routine. As I reflected on all the years I was on leadership, I saw that all my suffering was a result of leadership. I was really discouraged by that, and it made me not want to do leadership at all. I talked with people about it and realized that if I was choosing not to do leadership because I didn’t want to work with people…that’s not a good reason at all. I reflected some more on my years of leadership and was reminded of all the fruit that came from my labor and how God had worked in my life and through me to reach the lives of others. I saw that while ministry is hard and taxing at times, it is far more rewarding than you would ever expect at the end of the day. God then really challenged me in taking on my new role (only one this year haha) in that I knew this role would help me grow immensely, but I really just didn’t want God to mold me because growing to become more like Jesus is a painful (yet rewarding) journey. As I prayed for God to help me to be less reluctant to obey and to serve Him, He orchestrated a way for me to reread the story of Jesus calming the storms and how Jesus doesn’t want us to avoid the storms but to experience the storms with Him — to follow, obey, and trust in Him. Immediately after, I was like “Crap. Okay God, let’s do this. This is going to be hard, but let’s experience storms together.” At first, I thought we were only going to experience storms within the realm of leadership, but God really challenged my commitment throughout the month of April.

— I was leading our large group the first Wednesday of the month as well as spearheading a lock-in with the hospitality team for the following Friday. I also found out during the week that I was teaching Sunday School the following Sunday, so you can imagine how much time was put into prepping and executing those three things in the span of a few days could be. After Sunday was over, my big event for my other organization was that upcoming Friday. We had booths everyday leading up to Friday, and when Friday came, my laptop crashed on me which led to me breaking down during my leaders meeting. Immediately after, I had to prepare for the big event which was six hours long, and I was in charge of the dancing aspect which meant I had to be super energetic as I taught the dance and interacted with the attendees. I was exhausted by the end of that week also because my boyfriend and I were going through our own personal struggles that deeply affected our relationship. So not only was the week physically tiring but it was emotionally and spiritually draining as well. After those two crazy weeks, I was determined to spend A LOT of time with God to reconnect and to recharge with Him, so I decided to read Daniel. The week went on and everything was great. That weekend, I went to a youth leader retreat with my church, and on Saturday, I received a text from my mom. She had told me that my dog was missing since the night before and that my dad had gotten into an accident a few hours before she sent me the text. I freaked out, naturally, because this wasn’t the first time my dog had gone missing, so I thought there was no way that we’d be lucky enough to find my dog again, especially since she had been gone for a longer period this time around. My mom didn’t give me any details about my dad’s accident, so I was scared that he had been badly injured…or worse. I was terrified and broke down in tears, and as I called my mom to get more information, I found myself feeling so helpless in that I was 4 hours away from home, and I couldn’t be there physically to see how my dad was doing or to continue searching for my dog. So all I did was pray, pray, and pray some more. I journaled and read Daniel and came across Daniel 6:27. God really spoke to me in that He is a god that delivers and rescues and perform signs and wonders on earth and in heaven. I found out a couple of days later that even though the car was totaled, my dad was completely fine, and a friend of a friend found my dog and brought her to the animal shelter. It was then that I realized God was testing my faith and trust in  Him as we experienced these storms together. Though those experiences were difficult and hard, God was so, so, so good. I saw God work through these storms, and I saw myself clinging closer to Him, trusting that He would provide in my time of need. —

I saw that when all 3 parts of my life overlapped (ministry, organization, school) life got REALLY crazy. It was hard to manage my time, to get rest, and to invest in each thing full heartedly. Life was crazy. But through it all, God was constant, He was so good to me, and He provided in ways that I would never have imagined with school, ministry, organization stuff, and even in my relationships.

You see, I’ve wanted a boyfriend since maybe late middle school because everyone around me had one or had a “thing” with someone and though I’ve had many “things” with guys, I’ve never been in an actual relationship with someone before. I always told myself, and other people, that I wasn’t going to jump into any relationship but that I would think and pray A LOT because since it would be my first, I wanted to make sure I was entering for the right reasons and that it would be a good relationship. I came up with this mentality because I’ve heard way too many stories about fallen relationships with guys that just weren’t right for my friends, so naturally, I wanted to avoid that as much as possible. I found that through all my “things” that I had, there was a lot of insecurities about myself that formed or previous struggles about my identity and self-worth that were amplified as a result of these “things” I had with different guys. Especially after last year’s fiasco, I put up a huge barricade to cover all the other walls that I had built up. I told my friends that I just wanted a guy who would chase after my heart and make me feel like I’m worth pursuing and fighting for. I even told people that I was so done with guys and how I was okay if I was single for the rest of undergrad. Lo and behold, God was working. The friendship that my now boyfriend and I had when we first met developed over the year as we got to know each other more. We didn’t realize it at first, but we concluded that we unconsciously liked each other for what was probably a long time. I’ll spare you the details, haha, but basically we were just chatting one night and we somehow ended up defining our relationship. As we unraveled all of our past interactions together, it became clear to us that we really enjoyed each others’ company and that we had unintentionally become “more than friends”. Before the end of the night, he told me he wanted to pursue me and tell me his testimony. When I first played around with the idea of dating him back in November, I thought to myself there’s no way he would like me or I would like him, and when we DTR’d in January, I questioned whether or not I did like him because I wasn’t sure. As I was praying for God to tell me if I should enter into this relationship or not, a big thing that was made clear to me was when my now boyfriend said, out of the blue, “Also, I really like your heart”. He had never heard me say that before, and it was then that I was like “Oh man. Okay God, is this for real? Is what I have been praying for so long actually happening?” I was still a little reluctant to enter because frankly, I was scared. I was scared to tear down all those walls I had built up, scared to get hurt again, scared to let someone into my life and all my struggles and insecurities, but with six months nearing, it has been a huge blessing to have him in my life. As I reflect on our relationship, I see how God has worked in both of our lives as individuals and as a couple, and I see how God-given this relationship is. Though the hardest part about being in a relationship is probably experiencing struggles together, it is also so rewarding to overcome those struggles together with God working in the middle of it all.

Anyway, the point of this whole post is a lot has happened this past year, and as I look back and reflect on this year, I’ve seen God work in my life and through me too. I have seen God challenge me through doing Bible study for church, through all aspects of ministry, and just experiencing life in general. Through it all though, God has been so good to me and has blessed me with friends and family who care very deeply about me — people who care about my well-being both spiritually and physically. I now know why birthdays have always meant so much to me, and it’s because I’m surrounded by people I love and who love me too. I’m reminded of how God has worked in each of those relationships and how God has blessed me with such a loving community and true friends who will drive up 4 hours to celebrate my birthday with me. I’m reminded of God’s love that is shown through each of my friends and family members and just how ultimately good God is. 21 is a big deal, not just because I can legally drink now hahah, but because I’m nearing adulthood. I’m one step closer to entering the “real world”, and I’m that much closer to making many more steps in the wrong direction as I’m finding my place in the world. But hey, here’s to 21! Here’s to many more memories, adventures, and lessons to learn from this crazy journey called life.

twenty-one