The more I live, the more I realize that life is about learning to love the season you’re in. Regardless of the weather.
Each of us is living in a different hemisphere. We’re all dwelling in different seasons. But our experiences all have a similar theme: discontentment.
If we’re in school, we’re longing to get out, get a job, get married, and grow up.
If we’re home for the summer, we’re longing for the community we had at school.
If we’re with people we long to be alone. If we’re alone we want someone next to us.
We want more of God, and He capsizes us with His grace. Then we want nothing but relief.
I’m learning a lot in this season of living alone.
This season of moving in and out of two workplaces like a shifting shadow, of dwelling in one place just long enough to leave an impression, yet vanishing before making a connection. This is the season that you enter after you step outside of your comfort zone. Or rather, you’re forced outside of your comfort zone. When you have only one option – the terrifying one.
You know you need to cross the canyon but you’re scared as hell to leave behind the ledge and make the leap. God’s pushing you forward and you’re screaming because He’s asking you to jump out of an airplane. It’s suicidal! Why would you jump with no parachute?!
Then you realize that your airplane is actually a swing, and you’re not crying out in fear, you’re screaming praises. I think that’s what grace feels like.
So why is it that we’re looking around at the 5-star meal God prepared for us and asking why the dessert is chocolate cake and not lemon meringue pie?
I guess what I’m saying is…I’m ungrateful. I’m prone to sadness because God’s plans for me involve pain.
Isn’t it true that the best moments life gives us are always tinged with pain?
– You get a killer internship. The dream internship. The one with the people and the place and the experiences you’ve always wanted. But it means you’re alone. In an unfamiliar city, living with strangers, working hard to support yourself.
– You move to a new city to chase your dream. The city is as bright as your future but nothing is secure. You don’t have a job and all the doors keep closing and all you know is that God brought you here and He’s not leaving you hopeless.
– You’re surrounded by people and your days are long, but you long for solace. For security and comfort in the people who know you the most. But your life is exhausting and busy and you have to keep going because stopping is not an option.
I’m in Columbus for the most incredible internship. The people I work with are incredible, at both the River and Build-a-Bear, the two workplaces I divide my time between.
But the saddest feeling is coming home and being struck daily with the realization that I’m alone.
Even though I have friends spread out across the country, a family that supports me enough to fund my dreams, and a love I’ve spent most of my life dreaming about, I still come home to me, myself, and I. Every day.
I don’t have people here that know me: Angela Schweinitz. The writer, Jesus-follower, the radio nerd. They know me as the employee. The girl who lives downstairs. The ordinary passerby.
I miss being known.
Chances are, you’re longing for the same thing. You’re longing for people to see you. To see your worth, to dedicate themselves to getting to know you. And, most deeply, you’re longing for people to know you and to love you just the same.
Those friendships, those people we commonly refer to as “best friends”, they don’t come out of no where. They are cultivated by a passionate dedication to communication, thoughtfulness, and perseverance.
I used to get sad all the time, until I realized something massive. Something that a greeting card at Columbus’ own adorable stationery shop “On Paper” reminded me of today:
“Life Sucks” and “Thank You” cannot exist in the same moment.
When we start being grateful…grateful for the internship, for the job, for the place to live, even for that admittedly INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT distance between you and the person you love, we find the most elusive of all attitudes:
Joy and I have not always been close companions. She always seemed a little too far out of reach. Especially when I was up too late, lying in bed with wet eyes and an exhausted mind, asking God why growth always has to be painful. Why I always have to push myself to be better. Why I just can’t ease gracefully into spiritual maturity, why I always have to be dragged through sanctification kicking and screaming.
Difficult nights seem to happen at the worst times.
One of the few times I’ve gotten to speak to Chris on the phone this summer was during one of my most difficult days. Chris was doing so well. He was full, you could hear it in his voice. He shared about his experiences so far with HeartSong, excitedly telling me all the incredible things that God was doing in his heart and through his team. And I found myself desperately struggling to be happy for him. All I could feel was a longing to experience God like he was. To know fellowship like he did. I felt myself growing more and more frustrated with God.
Why was I alone again, when all it did was render me ineffective and depressed?
Chris listened as I candidly shared my heart, my fears, my emotions. And my jealousy.
And then he said, with the utmost sincerity and compassion,
“Do you think, maybe, that God is forcing you to be alone so He’s the only thing you can cling to?”
Oooof. All it took was hearing that truth spoken aloud for me to understand: all of this is God. This is God growing me. This is God loving me enough to make me better.
If I look closely enough, I can see clear ways God is not just leaving me alone to be depressed and sad.
For one, He’s bringing me into the folds of real community. With boldness, I might add.
Veritas Community Church: my new church home. I find them within one day of being in Columbus (hello…can you say “divine intervention”?). I join a community group. I feel comfortable with the lovely people I met there. Already. And can you guess the conversation topic the first night I meet with them?
You got it. Joy.
We open up to Psalm 146. Then the people gathered around the coffee table start saying things like this:
“Joy is most evident when you feel the least in control,”
“Joy is claiming the truths about God regardless of your emotional circumstances,”
“Searching for joy and not finding it is the root of depression. Only God can satisfy.”
“Seeking God is the source of all joy.”
“God’s faithfulness and provision gives joy.”
“Joy and hope are deeply intertwined,”
And all of a sudden it feels like God is Michael Scott, staring through the camera knowingly at me, giving me a grin of shared understanding.
My Jesus, HE IS FAITHFUL. (Gosh, I want to weep typing this…)
He’s faithful! I have never been alone. I have never been abandoned. Every moment of my life, my saddest nights, my most lonely hours, they have all been covered by grace upon grace because my Savior knew death in order that I may taste joy.
I know true Hope. Hope in my circumstances. Which are, in all reality, insurmountably good. They are a greenhouse, the potting soil of a good God who wants me to flourish. I’m getting stronger every day, because God is working my emotional muscles.
Not having a job secured is hard, but God is faithful.
Not knowing if I’ll be close or far from Chris after graduation is rough, but God is faithful.
Long distance, low communication summers are difficult, but God is faithful.
I feel alone in a big city, but HE HAS NEVER LEFT.
My friend. That is my mantra. God is faithful. He has never left.
Make thankfulness your song.
We can take heart, for He has overcome.
(if you’re looking for a great worship song that articulates how it feels to hurt and still trust God, check out Hillsong’s new album Empires. there’s a song called “Even When It Hurts [Praise Song]” that absolutely rocks my world every time I hear it. I love the line “Even when it hurts like hell, I’ll praise you.”)