If I had to bottle down my personal and spiritual growth from the last year into one word, it would be surrender. In the transition between high school and college, the known and the unknown, I latched onto the idea of dying to myself in order to create more space for God to work in my life. I surrendered years worth of resentment and unforgiveness, deep rooted anxiety about security, and my dreams and plans for the future. I was able to forgive, calm my anxiety, replace depression and loneliness with heartfelt community, give up my dreams for my future career. In giving all this and infinitely more to God, I was able to see Luke 19:30 work actively in my life.
Can I tell you something crazy? Even as I asked God to search my heart and reveal any grievous way in me, somewhere in the back of my mind I felt I was done. That I had nothing left to surrender, that there was nothing else that needed fixing.
I entered into Boston Echo, a two-week long leadership program and mission trip with Cru, ready to meet new people, become a master of the MBTA (or at the very least learn how to take the T), and grow in my abilities to share and lead in my faith. My expectations were swiftly met, and then lessons I know in retrospect I desperately needed to learn began.
Each speaker had a unique lense of the Gospel to share with us, but the phrase “it’s like trying to drink from a firehose” was tossed around like a beachball. To give some perspective, my hand was regularly sore from taking notes so fast. It was all so pertinent, engaging, and left me with a list of additional resources and book recommendations longer than a CVS receipt. Everytime someone asks me for my biggest take away, the answer changes merely because there were just so many.
While I was at Echo, I committed to a year of singleness with a dear friend (or a year of dating Jesus, as we’ve taken to calling it.) I stopped worrying so much about financial aid, support raising, and future incomes. I learned how to healthily confront someone who I vehemently disagreed with, without letting my old wounds guide me. I realized I was afraid of receiving from others, that I had been misunderstanding the meaning of sin, that I couldn’t truly say that I felt God’s love deeply.
It’s such a relief to know I’m nowhere near done. I like to think of my inner self as an old house in need of renovation. I think before Echo, I was done, in a sense. I had power washed and repainted the siding, cleaned the gutters, weeded the garden, and even paved the driveway. But it didn’t occur to me to peek in the windows, to unlock the door. Looking around at the entryway right now I can tell that the closets are bursting open, that the rugs are hiding piles of dirt, that the staircase would crumble if so much as a mouse scrambled up its steps.
I think I’ll spend this next season of my life taking inventory of all the damage and coming up with some solutions. I am seeking to understand who I am presently and who God created me to be. I still want to keep on surrendering every bit of me, but I need to figure out who I am first. It is fitting that the three things I’ve held onto the tightest– my identity in being capable and smart, my sense of security in savings, and my idealization of romantic relationships– all require me to get to the root of the problem in order to yank it out and hand it over to God.
Ultimately, I’m sorting through all the things that I long ago decided would give me purpose and contentment, so there’s more space for the Lord of my life restore me to my intended glory. And although I’m eager to roll up my sleeves and get to work, I’m going to follow His lead this time, not my own.
Song I’m listening to on loop: Atlas: Three by Sleeping at Last