Time to be Vulnerable
Alright, here I go. This is the part of writing my blog I am the most nervous for... opening up and letting you see and hear some of the most intimate details of my life and my walk with the Lord. But I have to be brave because this is what God has called me to do. So here I go unfolding my life to you, praying that you can find even an ounce of encouragement or hope to help you get through the tough times you might be facing or will face in the future. This is the story of how God completely wrecked me in order to open my eyes to see more of Him.
A year ago today I entered into the hardest chapter of my life; freshman year of college. I am not the same person I was a year ago. Looking back, I realize how lost I was in my faith, how alone I felt, how dependent I was on the people around me. Today, I am still those things, but much less so. I still have times where I struggle in my faith and do not lean on Jesus as much as I should. I still feel alone sometimes. And I am still dependent on those around me, but I have learned how to be independent and take care of myself. "So what changed?" To that I say, college.
To say that the transition from living at home to living on a college campus away from family was hard would be an understatement. It was the most difficult thing I have ever done. It was torture at times, it was depressing at others, it was uncomfortable and unbearable almost always. The first half of my freshman year of college was a complete nightmare. Now, I had gone through tough times in my life prior to this experience, but nothing to this extent. This was a whole new level of hard for me.
Since the minute I stepped into high school, I was over it. I didn't like the drama that high school brought, I didn't like the cliques that high school brought, and I didn't like the loneliness that high school brought. That's not to say that I hated everything about high school because I didn't. I was involved in theatre and choir all 4 years and through those activities I was able to make many friends and memories. I wouldn't trade that for anything. However, my introverted personality created a lot of self-doubt and low self-esteem. I never felt like I could be fully myself in high school, mainly because I was a Christian and some of those around me didn't share my same beliefs. All I wanted was to be more independent, be surrounded by Christian friends and community, and not feel so boxed in. I was so excited to start college at George Fox University and have all those things at the tip of my fingers. Or so I thought I was.
The summer before freshman year I could feel some anxiety building up for what was to come, but I suppressed it and didn't think much of it. Come move-in day 2017, I was not excited at all. I was scared and sad instead. The whole move-in experience fun was robbed from me by fear and anxiety. That was the day I realized how frightened I was to have all the things I had wished for in high school. My heart hurt. This was what I had dreamed of for so long and instead of celebrating, I was exhausting myself with tears, clinging to my parents to keep them from leaving. I remember going to my freshman seminar intro class feeling completely numb. I left that meeting in tears and hid in some trees to call my mom. I begged her to come pick me up and take me home. She said "no" and began to encourage me that it will get better with time, that the anxiety will fade as things become more normal for me. To our surprise, it did not get better. The first three months of school consisted of me calling my mom in tears everyday at least twice, not being able to eat or sleep because I was so upset, and crying out to God about why He was tearing me apart.
I didn't want to feel this way. I didn't want to be calling my parents begging them to let me move home. I didn't want to be throwing up every morning because I was so distraught. I didn't want to be consumed by anxiety. But I was. The only explanation I have for why I went through this hell was because God was completely breaking me so that I would rely on Him and grow in my trust with Him.
So what brought me out of this unbearable situation? God. There wasn't one single event that happened that suddenly made the anxiety disappear or the darkness in my life brighten. It was lots of different things. One of them was that I got involved in a university club called Ambassadors. I had been praying for God to open doors for me to get involved. He spoke to me through a friend of Emily's, my older sister, who had previously attended Fox. This friend reached out to me and encouraged me to apply to become an ambassador. I was apprehensive about joining a club because it meant I was putting down roots at a school I wanted nothing to do with. But I knew I needed to listen to what God was asking me to do, so I did it. It was one of the best decisions I have made at George Fox yet. Ambassadors has been so good to me and it has stretched me in amazing ways. I am actually on the Central Committee for Ambassadors, running the activities for the club, this year. Another way God gave light to this experience was through the people He placed in my life. He gave me an awesome roommate who listened to me vent, hugged me when I cried, and knew how to make me laugh. I am so thankful for her. I made two best friends who ended up living right next door to me. They encouraged me and loved me in ways that only God loving people could. They gave me hope that it would get better. By the time second semester rolled around, it had.
God tore me apart to put me back together in a more wholesome way. He made a beautiful thing out of a horrendous situation. Now, I do not wish what I went through on anybody. It was painful. But I have told so many people that I would not want to change that experience because it taught me so much that I needed to learn. I learned to lean on God before I lean on my parents and those around me. I became so diligent with my devotions and Bible reading. I journaled to God on the daily. My relationship with Him became SO much stronger. I learned how to be independent and live on my own. I learned to fully trust God in every situation. I learned how to be an extroverted introvert. I do not need nearly as much time alone as I used to and love being with people. I also know though that it is still important to take time for myself in order to recharge. My life has completely changed for the better.
Life isn't always easy but as long as I've got God by my side, I'm good. Jesus is my defender and my refuge. I can face all things through Him. As overused as it may be, one of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." You are capable of doing anything because you have the power of Jesus within you. God is so amazing and He can do amazing, indescribable things. I never would have thought last October that I would be excited to go back to Fox for my sophomore year and here I am, getting ready to head back for round two.