Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Greatest, Most Terrible Days Ever!

One aspect of my personality (that I alternately love and hate) is that I change moods frequently. In a matter of hours I can go from feelings of utter despair to feelings of eager anticipation—and back again. So much so that my Grandmother used to recite to me a little poem, that rang all too true:

"There was a little girl who had a little curl,
right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good, she was very, very good,
but when she was bad, she was horrid."

Prime example: So a couple Sundays ago, I was having a really good day. I had been basking in God's presence, and truly enjoying worshiping him with my brothers and sisters in Christ. The last church meeting of the day was a prayer meeting. There were 13 of us in attendance, an odd number. When the final "amen" was spoken, everyone looked up and immediately engaged in conversation with someone next to them. Everyone, that is, except me. I felt like the odd man out. Somehow, the people on either side of me had begun talking to the people on the other side of them, which isn't a big deal except I just suddenly felt out of it. I considered butting in on one of the conversations next to me, but both seemed kind of serious so instead I just left. Moments before I had been feeling so joyful and connected with other people and now I felt so isolated and alone as I got in my car to drive home to my empty apartment. I felt as if there was no one in this world who cared about what I would face in life or who would be there to face it with me. I began to sing to Jesus, "All of you is more than enough for all of me—for every thirst and every need…" So, I'm driving down the road feeling incredibly lonely, and trying to trust God to fulfill my needs, but still hurting from a sense of isolation, when suddenly this green SUV passes me on the left, and out pops this little head, and this girls grins at me and waves. It was one of Mindy's teammates. And just like that, I felt happy again. See, Kristi, just because you live alone does not mean that you are all alone in the world. God will be faithful to send people to you when you need them. And just like that, my half-mile of melancholy was gone and I felt happy again, thanks to that girl's silly wave.

Okay, so imagine for a minute that your emotions are constantly roller-coasting. It stinks because you can go from happy to sad in a moment—but then it's nice because you can also go from sad to happy! Either way, it means that you can have the best and the worst day all in the same day.

And that's how life has seemed recently.

There have been some great things happening that have been such an encouragement to me:
- God's given me several opportunities to have serious discussions with people about faith, life and the gracious forgiveness extended to us in Jesus.
- I've been able to reconnect with some students who hadn't been in touch with me for a while.
- I've been richly blessed by my friendships; I love having friends who engage my mind and my heart and challenge my thinking and my actions!
- I have been enjoying spending more time with my family recently, just making it a bigger priority. And let me tell you guys…my family is awesome. I mean, we're kind of weird and we've got our weaknesses, but I am so thankful for my parents and my siblings and the love that we share for one another.
- A group of us started this refreshing Bible read-thru night, where we just read together for 45 minutes and then spend time in prayer and worship. I love it!

There have also been some really tough things going on—not so much to me personally, but to the people around me. I know it is much harder for them, but my heart does ache for them.
- A dear friend was recently diagnosed with and now being treated for cancer.
- Students have been suffering physical, emotional and spiritual trauma, leaving me feeling helpless and unable to protect them or solve their problems (not that I expect to be able to, but still I hate feeling so helpless while this stuff is happening to them!).
- My dad was told he would be losing his job this summer.
- Things at church are relatively unstable—people are hurting, discouraged and some are leaving, which only causes more pain for those of us that remain.

And yet, I find that through these hard times, God works. My friend demonstrates strength of character and dependence upon God despite the uncertainty of her health, and I am amazed and challenged by her grace. Students are learning to pray for one another and support each other during difficult times, growing in their sense of community. God answered our prayers and demonstrated his care and provision by providing my dad with another job within the same company. And I find that although things are uncertain at church, there is a group of us who are committed to pursuing God's purpose for our community of believers, even if it looks different than it has in the past. That is exciting for me! I'm confident that God will use these hard times to refine us and prepare us for what he has in store for us, and I'm actually eager to try some new things and see how God might bless us.

So, how am I doing? Depends on the moment you ask. But this is the verdict of which I am certain: Life can be both beautiful and terribly hard, but God is good. All the time.