The beauty of knowing Jesus, is just that: Knowing Him. It is spending time sitting at His feet. In worship. In the Word. In dreaming. In journaling. In studying. In awe of creation. Whatever. Whenever. It is in car rides to job interviews. Under the tree 5 miles from home. It is on the run to class. It is with the perfect latte in hand.
There is nothing that can replace the salve of this time with Jesus. There is nothing that can equate to the beauty of knowing Him.
It should have been no surprise that the first resistance I would encounter upon my God-directed move to Duluth, pertained to the time I devoted in the quiet place. It was not all day, every day. Neither did I flaunt my times or require those around me to do so as well. But I was told, on more than one occasion, that my pursuit of the holy was religious. That spending time at the feet and in the arms of Jesus was nothing more than a flaunting of my spiritual strength, and was actually a sign that I was doing it all wrong. That knowing Jesus meant serving. That rather than sitting and reading scripture, I should be out feeding the poor.
What was the beginning of two years of a downward tumble began with these types of statements and gut-wrenching claims. I was crushed by these things. Not because I believed they were wholly correct, but because they exposed a weakness I believed I had. They exposed the fact that I do not devote 72 hours to volunteering per week. In fact, I rarely devote more than 1 hour per week to volunteering.
Perhaps this means I am selfish. Or perhaps this shows that I manage what I can.
In these days, I work. I go to a private college full time. And I study. I go for runs and bike rides. And I try to put together my own meals. I pay rent. And I am at my whit’s end the way it is. Giving more seems virtually impossible at this point. One may argue that I don’t know how much I can give until I try. Yet, I would argue in response, that I know who I am and more importantly I know my limits. I know that too much on my plate gives me migraines. And I know that too many priorities means that very little gets accomplished. And the few things that do get done are pretty half-assed. I know that balance and rhythm are key to surviving this fast-paced, suspiciously careless culture. And I know that slowing down is the key to living fully a life which is speeding up. And I know that what my accuser did not have the opportunity to see was the hours in intercession and prayer and the anonymous ways my hands extend help to those around me.
The only way I can think of to slow down and maintain rhythm and balance, is to find my way into the throne room on a daily basis. And I know now that when a person tries to take this from me, then they are not in the right. And they are meant to be ignored and graciously forgiven.
I have a theory: that the reason I was met with such resistance was in large part due to the general religious atmosphere at the school me and my accuser attended. But when it comes down to it, it just doesn’t really matter. She spoke. And I listened. And I have paid the price.
The price was steep. It meant months of listening with only half of my heart while the other half I tried to put into the work and school work around me. This exhausted me, for I was left with only more accusing voices inside of me and out. My grades reflected this, as they should! And my work, which had come with such ease to me, began to feel weighty and burdensome. My cup was not only empty, it was shattered wide open.
Yet, there was a phenomenal reward. In this past season, I have found many prayers of my youth not just answered, but fulfilled. I have found a fresh and new ease with those who I would have demeaningly entitled ‘unsaved’ just two years, before. I have found courage to stand up to the accusations, to the stealing, and the insensitivity in my own house. I have found the voice to speak up when I need help. Not just when my need for help is clear, but even more frighteningly, when help seems like a poor solution for the confusion around me. I have learned to voice my opinions. I have learned to disregard stares. I have learned to turn my shoulder to people when they have stupid things to say about mental illness or religion. I have learned to dance in the light of day. I have learned that my heart and my gifts have a significant place in this world. I have learned that my time is now. No longer is my place to be hidden under a rug or upon a shelf. I have learned that my heart is too big and my reach is too long to be shoved in the box my culture or relationships have decided to place me in, and that my time to shine, is now.
So, awaken, I have. And not because these past two years have been easy, but because they were some of the toughest and most confusing. There was too much to learn in too little time. Just like in a tough, world-reknowned school like St. Scholastica, when so much information is poured down our throats one hour after another, so was this past season of my life: Too intense to fully grasp, even with some serious study and consideration.
Yet, there is now. And reflection is an enormously powerful tool. A tool which is used in the kingdom of God to salvage the details of our past to wisely utilize for our future. And I am excited to increase time spent in the presence of Jesus, to gain clarity of insight into these past years, and to restore clarity for the path I am journeying.
Forgiveness runs deep in the community which hosts the greatest guest of all: our King Jesus. That is my prayer for St. Scholastica. That is my prayer for myself.