“What did God teach you this summer?”
My friend asked me this and it caught me off guard. I needed to think about it. It took me awhile but I was finally able to put what God has taught me into words and I wanted to share it.
This summer God has taught me more about myself than I thought possible. When I was planning for it, I was swarming with excitement as I collected studying abroad pamphlets, missions trip forms, and searched for internships, but none of these seemed to be where God was calling me. He wanted me at home. I wasn’t sure why. At first I tried to fight it by planning trips and looking for ways to leave, but I just grew frustrated because God closed every door that I tried to open on my own. Once I gave up fighting it, I was forced to focus.
I’ve been blessed to have most of my summers hold life changing experiences where I get to see God in a new light, a new place, and learn more about who God is and my relationship with Him. This summer was different. He didn’t call me out into the unknown like in the past. Instead He kept me in my comfort zone. I didn’t realize how difficult this would be until I was left waiting, lonely, and forced to do what I had been subconsciously avoiding; looking in the mirror.
When I’m at school I avoid loneliness the best that I can. I throw myself into what is going on around me; my friends, my goals, and my schoolwork. I’m always busy, stressed, and tired. I wear myself out and have to rely on God to even get me out of bed most mornings (assuming I even went to bed.) I was dependent and in touch with God this year and I learned more about Him, but I wasn’t asking what I could change about myself in order to be more like Christ. It’s clear that even in the chaos of internships and unpacking, He called me to be still. To wait. To grow. To change.
The more that I asked God to show me what I needed to work on, the dirtier I appeared next to his holiness. Instead of being self conscious and running like I would have at school, I stayed. I looked in the mirror and realized that God is not condemning me. He wants me to see my flaws so that I can work on them, but it doesn’t altar his love for me. He doesn’t call us to be perfect. I learned that it’s okay to not have it all together. It’s okay to be weak. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to fail (even in ministry.) It’s okay to feel alone. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to be human. Just because I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I can’t hurt. I had to figure out how to forgive myself for falling short. I learned how to let go of this idea in my head and examine who I really am and who God has called me to be. I had to be vulnerable with God in order to be vulnerable with myself as well as the people around me. My summer was not what I had originally imagined it would be, but I was able to have some amazing internships, spend time with my family, and catch up with friends. This ended up being better than what I could have planned on my own. The loneliness, stillness, and waiting that I had been fighting, God used once I surrendered it, to get my attention and remind me of who He has called me to be.