When Bible College Wasn’t What You Were Expecting

I haven’t really written much of anything in a long time.

I never write during the summer because days at camp are just too long and too busy to sit and get anything down on paper.

I promised myself I would start writing once a week when September came around but that didn’t really happen either.

At first, it was cause I was just a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts and business. My job was ending, I was moving into college, my mom was back visiting, I was going on my first date ever and starting my first relationship ever. They’re all amazing things but it just kept me busy.

And then college started and holy, I didn’t understanding the meaning of the words homework or busy until the beginning of September. The readings and the assignments and the essays that are required is enough to make your head spin. Then add on all the social events then you’re expected to go to and sometimes it’s more than I can handle.

(Don’t get me wrong, I love college now but honestly, it’s been a struggle to get to this point.)

I got so sad and frustrated around October. I was in the midst of Bible college but my spiritual life was lacking more than ever.

I found it hard to read my Bible for my personal life because even though my professors had warned me, it was becoming my textbook.

I found it hard to actually retain anything and instead of learning I felt like I was just studying to pass the exam.

I found it hard to make friends and balance my social life with my school life.

I thought coming to Bible college would put me on a spiritual high that was better than any I have ever experienced when in fact, I have just been struggling in my personal relationship with God.

I felt stuck, like I was at the bottom of a deep hole with no way to get out and back to reality.

And then, one night after crying to my boyfriend and him affirming me that everything was gonna be alright, I went to small group.

One of the other girls raised her hand timidly and said, “Does anybody else feel like you’re in Bible college but your spiritual life is declining?”

My soul screamed, “YES.” I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t the only one struggling. In fact, most of the other girls voiced the same opinion.

We talked about why this was happening and how we could change it and we realized that sometimes we have to be so, so intentional and creative with our relationship with God.

I have to carve out that time just reading my Bible with Him or I’ll just be drained.

I have to carve out time where I write about what He’s teaching me or I won’t remember.

I have to be creative and find other ways to be with Him and worship Him and go deeper with Him.

I have to be intentional with my relationships with my boyfriend and my friends. I have to make time to hang out and know them or else those relationships will fizzle out.

Yes studying is important, but it can’t take precedent over these other important things or we’ll just be drained and lonely.

So, I finished most of my studying today in between my two classes today.

And now I’m sitting here writing at exactly 9:30pm, just like I planned.

My Spotify playlist of Jesus music is playing in the background which is also what I use to worship Jesus on the drives to Hamilton or Brantford to be with friends.

I’m still learning and most days aren’t as organized as this one was but that’s the beauty of grace. I’m allowed to constantly be learning, I’m allowed to mess up. Jesus still welcomes me back, broken pieces and all.

 

 

Struggling

I should be studying right now, I should be reading the countless pages of textbooks that are due in a matter of days but instead I’m struggling with the idea of love.

It seems that this is something I always struggle with. Maybe it’s because my goal in life is to love people, maybe it’s because so often I fail at that goal, maybe it’s because I’m still learning how to love people and maybe it’s a mix of all three.

I started at Bible College in September. I’m studying theology and missions and while my brain is continuously filling with new knowledge and facts, the greatest thing I’ve learned about missions is that we need to love people.

I’ve learnt that lesson time and time again and not only in class. I learn it in living in community, in living far away from friends and family and having to make an effort and I learn it in the relationships in my life that are constantly growing and developing.

I know I need to love people, I just don’t know how to and I know I don’t do it properly most of the time.

I think love and selflessness are the same thing. I think love demands selflessness. I think of my parents, giving up their time, sleep and money just so they could raise me. That’s selflessness, that’s love.

Being selfless is the hard part of loving people. I think we are so naturally inclined to think of ourselves first that we have to force ourselves to be selfless. It’s on the days when I’m sick or tired or angry that this is hardest but it’s also on the good days where I’m really happy, I don’t want to give that up to show someone love.

But then I think of my Jesus. The perfect, spotless, righteous King. He gave up His throne in the heavenly realms to come a seek me out. That’s love.

He endured the worst death so that I would never die. That’s love.

He gave up everything just to show me He loves me, so why shouldn’t I do the same for the people He loves?

We love because he first loved us.

“If a person owns the kinds of things we need to make it in the world but refuses to share with those in need, is it even possible that God’s love lives in him? My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life and live in the pattern of gracious love.” ~ 1 John 3:17-18

When You’ve Been Home for Three Months

I’ve been “home” for three months. That’s such a hard thing to believe, it feels like a million years have passed since I left Peru but at the same time it feels like the past three months have completely flown by.

Being back in the place you used to call home is a whirlwind of emotions.

On one hand you’re so happy to be back, you love the little things that you never appreciated before like hearing English all the time and drinking tap water and going to Walmart and having hot showers. You love seeing your friends and the family that you missed. You love being at the place you are, at camp and at college, and meeting the people there and just having that whole experience. You love the relationships you’ve built and deepened. You love being “home”.

But you’re also sad. You long for that familiarity of your house and your family. You realize that your passport country isn’t really home anymore, everything and everyone has grown up and is so different from when you left it. So you feel homesick and while you really do want to be right where you are, you also yearn for the comfort of home which you come to realize is the place you left three months ago.

You feel torn.

You feel like your heart is in one million places all at once.

Sometimes it’s exhausting and overwhelming and hard to deal with, and it’s hard to imagine a time where living in Canada felt completely normal.

But even through these feelings you know you’re right where you’re supposed to be. It’s hard to explain but that’s what the peace of God is, unexplainable.

You feel like you’ve been given that peace and even though you feel overwhelmed sometimes you know it’s okay and that God’s got this, and that’s enough.

He is always enough.

When You’ve Lost Your Identity

Going back is weird. I don’t really think we were ever meant to go backward which is why going back to the place you once called home feels so overwhelming and strange.

Before I came back to Canada, I didn’t think about how I’d feel when I couldn’t say, “I live in Peru” or when I couldn’t speak Spanish to people or take pictures with my monkey; all things that made me special and different in the eyes of my friends and people from North America. I didn’t think about how that would affect or bother me. But now that I’m home, I’m realizing how much hope I put in those things.

I put so much hope in being “different” that now, being normal makes me sad. This may be conceited but not having those things that make me different is hard to get used to and I’m slowly realizing how unhealthy it was for me to put so much hope and importance onto those things.

My identity should be found in Jesus, I know that in my head and in my heart but time and time again, I find myself putting my identity into other things, things that go away, things that don’t last.

I’m constantly learning that I can’t earn my worth, there’s nothing I could do to make my worth more or less, ever.

The only thing that gives me my worth is Jesus and his unchanging, unconditional, perfect love for me. That is the only thing.

It’s not the wealth I could acquire.

It’s not the things I have.

It’s not the moments I experience.

It’s not even the people I meet.

Because all those things will eventually disappear.

The only thing that will last is Jesus, only Jesus and that’s what I’m holding onto.

So This Is Love

Love.

Love used to be a hard thing for me to understand.

I thought I knew love when I fell head over heels for a boy when I was 12. I thought it was love because I liked the way he looked and because I wanted to hang out with him all the time, but that’s not love.

I thought it was love when I got new clothes or gadgets because I wanted to take care of it and use it all the time, but that wasn’t love either.

I thought it was love when I saw a commercial of a poverty-stricken place and my heart broke, but that wasn’t love because after the commercial ended or the picture passed, I’d go right back to my normal life.

This year, for me, is about grace but I’m learning that love and grace go hand in hand. You can’t have love without grace and you can’t have grace without love, it’s just not possible.

As of Monday, we have 6 kids in our home,

G, an 11-year-old girl,

L a 15-year-old girl,

R, a 9-year-old girl,

A, a 3-year-old boy,

K, a 17-year-old girl

And S, a 2-week-old baby.

We’ve been open since April 5th when G arrived and in this short month, I have learned so much about love and grace.

When I was young, I only knew how to show selfish love, or in other words, show love when you can get something out of it and I think it’s apart of our sinful nature to think this way.

When I met Jesus, I learned about selfless love, love that gives everything up just to make sure others are all right. Since then, I’ve been trying to learn it and practice it.

I’ve seen it in my parents who work tirelessly for my well-being.

In my brothers who defend me and protect me.

In my friends who stay up late just listening to me vent or cry when I’ve had a rough day.

In my Jesus who gave his very own life just to save mine.

But this past month has been wild and it’s shown me, more than ever, what selfless love really looks like in myself and in others.

Selfless love is treating lice and spending hours upon hours picking it out. (Not just once either, over and over and over again.)

Selfless love is washing the sore, covered feet of a child.

Selfless love is waking up in the middle of the night because the kids still aren’t sleeping.

Selfless love is waiting until they fall asleep because the jungle is a scary place if you’re not used to the noises.

Selfless love is still choosing to love even when they do wrong and hurt you.

That’s what love is, it isn’t an emotion like my naïve, young self thought. Love is a verb. It demands action be taken. It requires that something be done or said or practiced. Love is choosing to love every single day, even if you don’t feel like it, if you’re tired or if you just plain angry. True love is fierce and wild and has no restrictions or limits, it just keeps going.

This kind of love is so amazing to me because it doesn’t mean that your life will be sunshine and rainbows, it means quite the opposite really. This kind of love means risking your health, safety, even life but still doing it anyway just because you so desperately want that person to know that they are loved and valued beyond belief.

Selfless love.

I’m still selfish, I’m still failing but I’m also still learning. It may take me my whole life, but for right now I want these kids to know that with every little nit I pull out of their hair, with every foot I wash, with every ridiculous story I listen to that I am doing it because I desperately love them and because I want to show them that Jesus loves them even better than I ever could.