A note to those who seem to find trouble keeping their faith and trust God’s goodness during seasons of waiting, dullness, or hard circumstances:
Some of you have experienced great, big, booming “God moments.” They’re pretty cool. Maybe it was when you were away from your phone for two weeks at camp, and you were able to see God’s goodness in the people you were around. Maybe it was at a retreat, listening to people’s testimonies. Or maybe it was while you were at a friend’s baptism, or when you witnessed a miracle of your loved one experiencing healing from sickness, or a mission trip, or the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen on your way home from practice. I know I have experienced God’s presence in moments like these, especially the last two times I have been to Kolkata, India. The things I witnessed in India were like none I have ever experienced, and it seemed like I had so many big “God moments” because of the extreme circumstances that come with Kolkata. I learned so much about God’s love and peace while in India, primarily through seeing the contrast of the fear of the Hindu gods and the joy from the people surrounding me. However, even in India, I found myself comparing my own experiences with others. Each night the team debriefed, and we all shared special moments we had. I especially noticed this comparison the second time I was in India, which was this past summer. It seemed like so many people were seeing or experiencing God in ways that I wasn’t. It took a while for me to realize that God was showing up to me in smaller ways, mainly because I was not as overwhelmed by what I saw the second time I was in India. Although my own experiences seemed more small and simple than others’, the ways God was speaking to me was so beautiful and so needed in my season of life. The lessons I was learning were a reminder for me to not compare my experiences in my faith with others’ and to remember that God is always constant amid circumstances. These reminders helped me to celebrate others’ moments while being content with where I was at with my faith.
I realized that I had to continually take hold of these reminders in my next transition to college. I was nervous stepping into such a new environment, mainly because I was so comfortable with my friends and opportunities in high school and just had such an incredible experience in India with my team. I realized that college doesn’t always come with the crazy fun or exciting days that I was expecting. This semester, some days were really hard or lonely. Other days were great. And many days I found myself waiting or worrying about my future. As someone who is “type A” and wants to be in control, I found myself always waiting for clarity. Whether it was confidence in my major or a feeling of comfort and settlement in a new environment, I did not allow myself to be still and rest in all of the good things God had for me each day. How could I be joyful when all that was on my mind was the future, things I had to think about, things I needed to control? I was putting unneeded expectations on myself as a first-semester college freshman, thinking I had to have my four-year game plan already figured out. I was waiting for these big moments of clarity in my major or in my faith, instead of seeing God in the days that maybe were a little slower or lonelier.
Now that I am back home for break, I remember finding the most joy and contentment with my new friends and community in college. It was when we were all hanging out in our dorm lobby instead of studying, or driving through the beautiful Nashville neighborhoods to get groceries, or baking Christmas cookies with my small group. I was finding much more contentment in these moments than when I was overthinking what my next responsibility should be. As hard as it is, each day I realize the importance of loving where you are at with your major, with your group of friends, or with your faith. One of my English teachers told me of a great analogy that I always try to remember when I feel like my feelings of uncertainty begin to overcome what I know is true in my life. Our faith is kind of like a train. We should let our knowledge of who God is lead our faith and let our feelings be the caboose. God is steady and constant even when our circumstances aren’t. If I feel like my faith is not as strong as it usually is, it is important to remember the last time I had hope. God has got me for 19 years, and He will continue to have me!
“I hope that you come alive whenever you are traveling to beautiful and far off destinations, and I hope you also come alive in living rooms and honest conversations because I promise you: light is shining there too. In all that is subtle and all that is grand, I hope you come alive, fully present whenever you can.” -Morgan Harper Nichols