- Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings
Something that I feel like God has kept speaking to me over and over again this past week is the simple phrase: "Move forward."
When I am not sure whether I should do this or do that or where to go next or if I am doing the right thing or if I am wrong, God has reminded me to keep moving forward. To take the next step. He'll stop me if I'm going the wrong way, he'll narrow my focus to exactly where he wants me, he'll keep me from straying off the path, and he'll bring me back if I do. I kinda think that I won't know where God is leading me until I get there. I don't know if that is a cliche or a truth or both... but it's what I feel.
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you" Matthew 6:33
As long as I am continually seeking God and moving forward... I trust he will lead me in the correct way. I don't have to have all my cards straight or my ducks in a row... I just have to keep moving forward in love, in joy, and in peace.
Freshman year I was a part of the club "Asians For Christ" for a little bit. No, I am not asian. But they accepted me anyways. It was fun for the couple weeks I went but then life got in the way and I realized I wouldn't be able to really plug myself in that specific community. So, I stopped showing up. I wasn't there long enough for anyone to miss me. But it's still funny to think about the days when I was in Asians For Christ.
I don't know what it is about junior year. I don't know if this is normal or just the season I am in. But I think as college goes on people realize they can't be in the 20 clubs they signed up for at Late Night freshman year. People can't just go to AFC because it's fun. Time is precious to all and we all are deciding what we are going to do with the time given to us. (Unintentional LOTR quote). And we're deciding what is really important to us. And what we really believe.
I have two main passions in life: Theatre and Church. I love acting more than most things in this world. And I love the church and community and God. Probably my biggest struggle in college has been figuring out how these two fit together and fit in my life. Without fail, all my theatre things and all my church things happen same day, same time. Quite literally. And I am always having to choose. Or it's not a choice... it is mandatory that I'm at one of the things. A couple times it has been mandatory that I go to both.
Because of that, I feel like either a bad theatre student or a bad church goer. It's never a win for me. I feel like I'm betraying one when I go to the other. At first I almost always chose church over theatre. And I suffered in the theatre department because of it. I was involved minimally at best. So this year I said things were going to be different. I said I wanted to be more involved in the theatre department. I thought I had made my choice. But then I have weeks like this past week and all I want to do is get away from the theatre building. I am so consumed with self-ness and comparison and competition and I feel gross all over. Everyone is on edge and I feel like I have to walk on egg shells.
But then I'm at church and I question whether I care enough about theatre to really pursue it. If I really cared I would do anything and everything to get better. And I would go to all the events, right? So why am I not there? Am I selfish for going to church? Yes, I have thought these thoughts. I go to church because "I need it. It's good for me." Shouldn't I be focused on loving and serving people?
But I have seen too many people walk away. I have watched person after person compromise just a little until they are so far away they don't even know how they go there. I can't be passive about God. I can't be passive about church. I am not strong enough.
I have less than two years left with Baylor Theatre. In two years I will no longer be in the department. I have no idea where I'll be or what I'll be doing. But I won't be a Baylor student. These days will just be memories that I will take with me. But when I chose Jesus I was signing on for a lifetime membership. There isn't a "season of Jesus". He is forever. He is when everything else fades away. So why am I trying SO hard to gain success that is so fleeting? Why am I trying to impress or please people that I won't be with forever? The Word of the Lord remains forever (1 Peter 1:24-25). And only The Word.
I can't be passive. I have to press in. This is the only option I have. It is so hard though. It is so hard feeling slightly different than all my friends. It is so hard saying no to things that everyone else says yes to. It is hard feeling lonely. It is hard knowing that many won't understand. And it is hard not knowing what God is doing and will do.
Honestly, maybe I am being a little melodramatic. I have many friends at the church that are on fire for Jesus. I have many friends in the theatre department that are also on fire for Jesus. I have many people in my life to encourage me and to pray for me and that I can serve along with. I am blessed. And I know I am. But I keep coming back to this crossroad. And I have to keep choosing Jesus. It is easy for me to get distracted and stray off. But as long as God's mercy is real I will always come back to this crossroad. And every day I wake up I want to choose Jesus. If my whole family left the church and decided they were done with God, it would be the hardest thing ever but I will STILL follow Jesus. I have found life is better with him. And there is no going back for me.
Choosing Jesus doesn't mean becoming a nun and shutting myself up from the world. I am still a theatre major. I still have so many awesome opportunities. I still have a life of adventure and crazy blessings ahead of me. But it does mean that my life looks a little different. And sometimes I have to put down my dreams and attempts to "be someone" in the theatre aside and give God a couple hours of my night to speak to me. And I'm learning... that's ok. After all, if I'm going to have any impact on the lives of the people around me I need to actually know who it is I am an ambassador of.
There are so many things on my mind. I'm not an eloquent writer. I'm sort of a broken record. I still have no idea what I feel. But I will leave you with this:
"When all around my soul gives way. He then is all my hope and stay. There's only one Holy one."
The other day a friend of mine did something- or rather, didn't do something- that kinda hurt me. They don't even know they did it and really it was not a big deal. But still I was disappointed. I was going to see them and I was in the car trying to not be so upset. I knew how to respond. I knew I should give it over to God and pray through my emotions and forgive and move on. Even though I knew that was what I was supposed to do it was not natural at all. I didn't want to do it. I wanted to just let my emotions get the best of me and shut down when I saw my friend.
I started questioning why it was so hard for me to talk to God. Why that wasn't my natural response? I've been following God for a while now... I claim we are close... but it takes discipline and intentionality to talk to him. Honestly, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that my first thought when this happened was a clever tweet.
Now, I don't like to subtweet or whatever. I've been accused of subtweeting before... but I never intentionally put something out there that is passive aggressive or aimed at a specific person. But, honestly, I think in tweets now. That's probably really sad but also kinda of true. Everything that I do I am formulating in my head how I could fit that in an interesting, 140 character sentence. I'm strategic with when I tweet and I am constantly checking for who favorited it. I try real hard to post inspirational things or Bible verses because I want to seem spiritual. Thankfully, I've learned to not tweet every thought that runs through my head but if I really wanted to I could probably tweet 1000 things a day.
I love twitter and don't think it's of the devil or that we should flee from it. But, I realized that it is SO much easier to post my thoughts- good and bad- up on the internet than to bring them to God. To me, that "heals" me from them. I feel better when I post them because I did something about it. And it's so natural to me. Tweeting is how I deal with things. My twitter feed has become my god. Instead of processing my life with the ONE TRUE God who can actually respond to me I settle for this social media site that, at it's worst, fosters shallow relationships, isolation, and narcissism.
Whenever I'm excited-- I should go to God. Whenever I'm overwhelmed-- I should go to God. Whenever I'm upset-- I should go to God. Whenever I'm thankful-- I should go to God.
I want to cultivate my relationship with God so it is a natural reaction for me to go to him first for everything. Tweeting should be my second (or third or fourth) instinct.