There are a billion and one things I have thought about as college comes to a close. The main thing is this: College is not sustainable. And that’s okay.
In fact, that’s wonderful. Being young is about doing all the things that you would not be able to do otherwise. It’s about living without rhythms and then recognizing the need for them. It’s about running on coffee for days to learn that it’s not healthy. It’s about way too late of nights with friends to think deeply and love hard. It’s about living on In and Out and Ramen to have the money to fly across the world.
I have realized that the people who have changed the world most are those who have lifestyles that are completely unsustainable, yet they are possible because they are empowered by God.
When you look at the world, you will find that life seems to come in waves, pulses. I believe that our youth can look like one of them in its extremity. I recognize that depending on one’s privilege, the amount of responsibility one takes on will differ, but the opportunity for outcome is still at one of its highest in this point of our lives. There are other moments like this later on, but right now our bodies are strong and our limitations limited.
So I am asking this question, “What can I do now that I won’t be able to do when I’m not young?”
I’m recognizing I can make my biggest mistakes right now in college. I can turn in an assignment late and get 20% off the next day because I was out all night on skid row. I can drive to Koreatown at 1AM to drink coffee with friends and talk about our struggles. I can pull all-nighters to read the Bible nonstop for a week, and wake up at 3 AM to watch the sunrise in Joshua Tree before my 9 AM class. (that was a really bad idea that God definitely gave me grace for).
I’m not saying we should purposefully make mistakes. And I’m definitely not recommending that you rebel against God, but do radical things for him that may risk a mistake or two. And in doing this, we will see God’s grace not only for the things we’ve done wrong, but for the things we can do right. We might find our lives leading to impossible things.
We might find ourselves flying across the world just to play soccer with children we love and haven’t seen for 5 years simply because scholarships exist. We might see ourselves scaling mountains, learning new languages, and booking spontaneously flights to Florida.
This is not to say we should ignore our responsibilities but recognize how flexible they are right now. I think this is why every older adult tells me, “don’t waste your youth.”
Let’s not waste this freedom scrolling on Instagram or taking perfect pictures to forge memories. Let’s make memories. Do something worth posting. Let’s actually do crazy things with our youth to see the rest of the world benefit.
We can start businesses, make movies, travel far, love our neighbors, get something out of our textbooks, and make relationships across the globe. We can plant things now that will grow well into our 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s.
And it is okay if it is not sustainable. In fact, it won’t be, but we’ll learn as we go. My dad always says, “Life does not have to be balanced at a single point.” You may work your butt off for 5 years to live overseas with no income for the next 3. You may have one semester where you don’t leave your room, but the next, you never come home. Sometimes we get to sleep for hours, other days will lead to long nights.
Life is waves, pulses.
This is life's rhythm, and I'm learning to live taking advantage of it.
"To whom much is given, much will be required."-Jesus
Needless to say, I don’t naturally enjoy change. If you are one of those people that do, I applaud you. Life is suited for you, because it is always changing. But if you are like me and you crave stability, history in relationships, and consistency, join me in this adventure called change. This past year forced me to love it.
Change is good. Change is growth. Change is rarely comfortable, but it always produces an opportunity for faith.
I wonder where we got this idea that being comfortable is something we are meant to control?
I don’t think we are. I think comfort is found in God’s arms. People bring us comfort, but comfort is inherently his. After all, it’s in one of God’s names. But for me, I think I often found comfort in being able to define my life around me.
I knew who my best friends were, I had each one defined as so, and a roof and a warm bed that I always knew would be over me each night. When people got too close for comfort, I would make sure that it was defined as so, making sure they wouldn’t just leave. Nobody ever told me that I didn’t need to define everything. Now I recognize my unhealthy tendency to define everything and everyone around me. I learned that I don’t need to define things unless they need to be defined.
Has anyone else noticed our society’s obsession with comfort? Heck, my family won’t go to the movies anymore unless we have reclining AND heated seats.
But in all seriousness, has anyone questioned why we crave comfort so much?
Comfort seems to always want to steal the driving wheel of our lives and lead us to need control. I mean, I get it. Pain isn’t enjoyable, rejection isn’t fun, and we all hate being awkward.
But, I think it’s all worth to see the places we can go.
Beautiful people don’t just happen.
I was reminded of something God told me a few years back.
He usually wants us to choose the thing that requires the most faith.
And change is usually a one-way right to that.
Praise God that amidst all the change, there is one thing that is always consistent.
I think Olaf was right.
“there’s only one thing that is permanent: love.”
What is possible in a single human life utterly amazes me. I sit, staring off into the dark windows outside to the wings of the airplane, imagining, pondering, wondering, What will my life lead?
I feel the tension building. I find comfort in stories, especially those who had deep preparation. I find comfort in Jesus who didn’t start his ministry until after 30 years and only needed 3 years to see his purposes completed. I find comfort in stories of people who left everything at age 50 to live overseas, or those that changed jobs endless times.
I feel that I’m at a juncture. Part of it could be recognizing that my school years are quickly accelerating to an end. Another part of it is recognizing journeys in my heart that are now completed and traits that I have become.
I think back to a few weeks ago, God whispering in my head, “I have all your heart now.”
I hold back tears at this thought. Not that I have arrived, not that I have reached an end, but that I’ve just begun a life completely and utterly held in God’s arms with my heart fully his.
It’s been a journey that has been going on since I was 16. I remember sitting in my bed, thinking of the idea of what it looked like to have a heart completely fulfilled and in love with God. I recognized my deep desire to be known.
It was the hardest semester. It was so hard. Just so hard. I try to find words to explain, but they often only mirror pieces of stories and experiences that would take to long to write here.
I think about how in just a few minutes I will walk off this plane back to home, Minnesota. How will I just lay back in my bed, so utterly different than the sixteen year old girl that first slept there? How do I sit with my friends when I now feel like my life will be so utterly different? Dreams have shifted, perceptions peeled off, and life now has such a different taste.
It is the taste of joy. I think about my Sunday mornings, slipping away to Hollywood to step into my church that meets in a nightclub, walking down Hollywood boulevard, gathering friendships with those on the streets around me. Every Sunday I’d get my vegetables for the week, and my pluots from Miguel.
I think back to Wednesday mornings, watching the sunrise with my professor, Uncle Lloyd, whittling while praying or snacking on quesadillas. These rich times just can’t be explained.
I think to late nights with my roommates, processing prayers, listening to lives, growing in our hearts for God.
I always wondered why I was at Biola. I’ve never quite liked it.
It always seems that at the end we begin to see.
We see how every little detail is molding us into something. We see how it all works out, and how nothing was wasted.
I now see. I couldn’t live the life I was always meant for until I knew the love he always had for me.
I couldn’t begin to go to the places I was meant to until I knew who I was in places I didn’t want to be. Here I am, with now a heart that is so utterly different than the insecure girl that longed for a different story when she flew into California. I’m still learning each day how to let this heart go free. I’m still learning what radical forgiveness looks like in a world that loves revenge. I’m still learning the line of letting people go, but also never letting the love end.
Above all, I know that I’m being led. I see it when I look back, and I now see it in the future.
I am so convinced that I cannot plan this life, and equally excited to where it can go. I can really go anywhere, do anything.
I can do all things. It is so very different to actually see that as a possibility in the course of your life though. It is so different to see this as the very methodology to your entire substance. It is so different to see that in come true in the 3 AM nights, pulling enough words out of me to fill two 10-page papers before 83 hours of reading the Bible. It is so different to see it in the way I have left home and learned to love it when I didn't want to. It is so utterly different to believe my humble little suburb Minnesota life could possible lead to big things.
I was humbled, hurt, and extremely tried in my heart this semester. I was exhausted, close to failing a class, and fully aware that I am limited. I was tired, confused, conflicted, but I’ve come out of it believing I can do all things with grace.
I’ve never felt like life could be hard. I never faced real problems in my day to day life in America. Yet this semester was impossibly hard. So much I never knew I held onto was suddenly taken, turned around, and thrown. For so long I chased it, trying to hold tightly to life as it seemed it should be in my head, but I always knew there had to be more.
I thought “more” would look like moving overseas, living among the poor, or doing something radical. It just seemed what my life was meant for.
Now I see that the “more” I was searching for is knowing the love of God.
It is everything and more, and sometimes God may lead us to things not because they are strategic in our life goals, but because they are strategic in giving him more of our heart. That is the life worth living. And now, here I go, with that love as my everything.
What is possible with a heart that is in love with God?
I guess I will soon find out.
Sitting in the middle of a mess is a skill.
Resting in the middle of it is even harder, but it’s one I have learned. In fact, I’m doing it right now.
As I write this, all my clothes are on my bed, my suitcase still in the corner, and boxes of things are in the garage that I still need to sell.
I used to have to finish everything before I could rest. As you can imagine, I never did.
I remember days coming back to the kitchen at my job after serving meals and looking at all that needed to be done. For a minute, I would just sit. I would sit in the mess, and I would breathe. I would eat a granola bar and take a few sips of iced coffee, and after a few minutes, I would work.
I’ve learned that life begins with rest, not ends with it. I used to wait to rest until I had seen everybody I needed to see.
I used to wait to rest until I did everything on my to do list. Little did I realize, I was rhythming myself into exhaustion.
If you cannot let your soul sit satisfied when things are left undone, you never will. We have to learn to rest before everything is in its place, because things will never quite be “in their place.” Taking a whole day, or a part of it at least, for a Sabbath makes us come to face ourselves. It makes us remember we are not in control and it reminds us that God is enough in all aspects.
So simple, I know, but it’s so important. Why do we take every other commandment in the Bible so seriously, but skip having a Sabbath day of rest?
I was reading a book and the author brought up an amazing point.
If we are to follow Jesus, we are to follow not just everything he said, but everything he did too.
Jesus may never had specifically commanded us to rest or be alone, but he did it ever so often that we must do the same too. I think we’ve spun it the wrong way when we tell people that they will get more done if they rest first. Do not worry, somehow all your work will get done when you rest, but rest is not about being productive. In fact, I believe that's the point.
It is when there is nothing in front of you, that you come to glimpse everything inside of you.
Rest is about finding your value apart from the work of your hands.
So, I encourage you, when you have a project or process in front of you where your heart would be tempted to run rampant, sit down.
Take a deep breath, and rest in the mess.
You’ll find yourself trusting God more.
It wasn’t yours to worry about anyway.