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
Nine months have gone by since my last blog post and since then, my life has completely and entirely flipped. I am no longer the same person I was last year, last semester or even last month. I have begun to actually feel like a grown up which scares me more than anything and have begun making MAJOR life decisions that could potentially affect more than just today. It’s been a period of needing to trust that God knows what he’s doing every step of the way and let me tell you, that’s much easier said than done.
I began by making the decision to switch from my french university (which was causing me much grief and anxiety) to a lovely little Christian based university across town. In some ways, I wish I had started here. It would have been so much easier to transition directly from my tiny high school to this even tinier private university and continue to be surrounded by my friends who know and understand me. However, God had different plans for me. He knew that I needed to leave my comfort zone for a year to learn who I was individually in him without depending on my friends at every moment of the day. It was hard. Really hard. I cried often but began to find so much more joy than ever before in Him because I had no one else. Since I made the switch, I can see the difference the year away made. I matured in ways I hadn’t realized I had and became ten times more thankful for little blessings like understanding assignments and having someone to eat lunch with.
Around the same time as I made the decision to switch schools, I also decided I should try out another church. I had become so spiritually unhappy in my parents church but was embarrassed to admit that when everyone around me was so full of joy. I had grown up there and had attended the same church with the same people from the time I was four. It has always been an old fashioned style church but I didn’t know any different than the structures, messages and doctrine taught there.
My first week at the other church, blew my mind. I cried during the worship and the message spoke directly to the problems I had been having at that time. I left feeling exceedingly encouraged but sheepish that I had enjoyed it so much. I thought my parents would be disappointed that I liked this other place so much better than the one I had grown up in and really struggled with the fact that I might lose my childhood church family. So, I decided to keep these feelings a secret.
Over the next month, I came up with all kinds of excuses to miss church with my parents and to attend this new place. I told them that I was only going because I REALLY enjoyed the messages, which was true, but not the whole truth. It felt a little sneaky but I didn’t know what else to do. I would come home singing sings of praise and genuinely excited to talk about the Lord like I’ve never been able to do before but would hide my desires to completely leave my parent’s church. This love for the Lord is something I’ve never been able to talk about before without feeling awkward and foreign. It was a revelation and a relief to my soul to finally feel joy in him when I’ve always been taught that He is joy but was never able to comprehend it.
My parents soon noticed a change in me. I would come home excited to tell them about the messages and singing new songs of praise as I did my work around the house. Because I’m so open about everything with them, we soon had a terrifying discussion about my changing churches and I was astonished to discover that they were okay with me moving on. Yes, it was a big change but they encouraged me to go and learn and grow into the person God intended me to be. I soon began to also attend the young adults group and met a few friends, started going to a small group bible study on my own will and soon after was asked to help out in “Kids’ zone”, the children’s program at the church. I could not have been more overjoyed! You see, God gave me a natural ability to work with children and then through this new church, He gave me an opportunity to teach a whole classroom of kids about his love. An opportunity that would never have happened at my parent’s church.
My church problems go much deeper than just my parents and siblings though. The church family that I had grown up with, didn’t know what to do with me. When I would visit periodically and would be completely open about how much I was growing in the Lord at a different place of worship, they clammed up. I know this is a difficult concept for so many to understand, but from their perspective, no one has ever left my parent’s little church and went on to live for Jesus. Everyone who they had ever seen leave had left and turned to drugs or partying or to become an outright atheist. This phenomenon is new to them and is taking some time to grasp. Its an ongoing issue that I pray about daily and am working through.
While this situation was going on, I was also adjusting to a new school. A Christian school at that. Here, I am surrounded by Christian friends and Jesus is a regular topic. Chapel is offered everyday and I go at least twice a week. The professors begin class with prayer and incorporate the gospel into their daily lessons. My heart is overwhelmed by how much I’m growing!
A week into attending my new school, I began dating a sweet guy who I met through a friend. We just managed to hit it off immediately on the first day we met and a week later, he asked me out for a walk in the woods and a trip to the arcade. It felt like I had found my happily ever after because that first date was straight out of a fairy tale. On the second date, he asked if he could meet my parents and if he needed their permission to date me. I melted like a snowman in the springtime. Everything about the first two months felt like it had been taken out of a novella. Three weeks in, I got my first kiss and it was just as wonderful as I imagined it would be. He was handsome and considerate and called me beautiful in his goodnight texts. He helped me with homework and introduced me to his grandparents. We talked about kids names and a wedding and what pets we wanted. He wanted a garage to fix up old cars and I wanted a craft/blog/library room.We had even decided to live in a quaint country home in the next province over so we wouldn’t be too far from our families. I learned his deepest darkest secrets and accepted flaws and he did the same for me. We spend many evenings sitting in his car talking about deep life issues and he would wipe my tears and hold my hand when we hit a sensitive topic. It felt like I was in a movie and I was head over heels in love.
However, around the two month mark, everything began falling apart. We started fighting over family differences and how we should handle mutual friend problems and disagreeing how far we should go physically because of his past relationships. Our conversations began to dwindle because we slowly began to realize how little we had in common. There were mutual friends, the excitement of a new relationship and Christ. Sometimes, that’s not enough. I wanted so badly for my first love to work out that I ignored the clear signals God was giving me to flee the situation. I stopped praying about him and began to ride souly on the emotions I had for him. This is where I went wrong. Though this guy was a charmer and made me feel like a princess, serving God was not the center of our relationship. He was a Christian, yes, but together we didn’t serve the Lord any better, we served ourselves.
Two days ago (from when I’m writing this post), we mutually broke up. There was no fighting or yelling or even crushed egos or crying (the night of the breakup anyways). We felt at the same time that it was time to let go and move on because we weren’t as compatible as we thought. My heart sank when the words “I think we should take a break” escaped my lips and he agreed in saying “I actually think about that more than I want to admit”. I don’t regret dating him. I don’t regret letting him be my first kiss. In fact, I learned more dating him than I would have if my first boyfriend did end up being my husband. I learned so much about who God desires me to be for him and that I need a man who cherishes my mind and my body but fears the Lord above all.
So, this is my story. This is where I’m at. I’m a little bit broken and a little bit fixed. Life has been such a roller coaster that I’ve lost sight of the end goal a couple times now but have to keep getting on track. I have to trust that God sees the end and that he is right by my side through every up and down right now. He is the ultimate plan maker and when he sees us heading in a direction that is not in his plan, don’t ignore the roadblocks he puts up.
A prayer for today:
Lord, fix my eyes on you. Remind me everyday that you are taking care of me and that you see the bigger picture. Remind me that I am not alone because you are my father and you walk beside me through every trial. My life is in your hands. Thank you for the blessings of strong Christian friends and an encouraging church and school. Never let me take them for granted. In Jesus’ name, Amen.