Here I am, sitting at my elegant secretary desk, listening as the record spins on the player, sipping on some coffee in a dreadfully unromantic Styrofoam Coca-cola cup. What I really want to do is dump my mind onto this screen I’m staring at, but, for your sake, I’ll attempt to sort it into some kind of coherent thought beforehand!
Throughout my life, I have never been much of a worrier; especially long term. I try not to let things bother me, because I know, most often, they are beyond my control. That’s the person I strive to be: Joyful in all things, and fearful in few. But as Spring came to a close and Summer began (and maybe even before that), I found that slipping away. I was struggling to maintain that peace that I have held onto through Jesus, while fear and dread were gripping my heart more and more tightly as time went on. Where in the world was the Alyssa sense of adventure? It was like I didn’t understand myself anymore, because it didn’t feel like me. I felt like I had lost some part of myself, and what’s worse, I couldn’t figure out how to get it back. Where had this even come from? Normally, I can just push these feelings aside and barrel through, you know?
I had worked hard to get to the point I was at; what I wanted, was to be excited and confident about transferring to Salem College after earning my Associates. What I found, was that I was dreading it. Completely. I didn’t want to hate the thought. I didn’t want to feel unsettled in my stomach at the idea. I especially didn’t want to drop my head into my hands and shed tears about it late at night. But I was, and it was driving me crazy. Who even is this?
(Hang in here with me. I’ve got a point.)
I had just finished two years of college. It was a great experience. Well, most of the experiences were great… and the ones that weren’t; well, they were character building, right? I mean, really, I even cried on the way home from graduation. But the last two semesters, though successful academically, had been very stressful for various reasons and on multiple levels. To be transparent, I was just worn down. Absolutely exhausted. The excitement of completing my Associates was balanced out by (if not outweighed by) each reminder that I was really only halfway done.
It wasn’t that I was afraid of the work (although it’s never a pleasant thought, let’s be honest). It wasn’t that I was leaving home (it’s close enough to commute). But I just couldn’t shake the unfamiliar feeling of being terrified and stressed out to the maximum. I knew I was going to a place where my own ideas and standards were practically foreign. Where the ideas being upheld were so far removed from my own, that I would likely spend a solid portion of my time explaining myself, which, believe it or not, can be exhausting. Even for someone who is unashamed of their faith and personal values. I told myself, “Alyssa, you’re just going for your education. If you hate it, you get to come home everyday, and two years will go by quickly.” I guess it didn’t hit me how utterly pitiful this perception was. How “not me” it was. I, who believes in getting the most you can out of every circumstance. Who gives myself pep talks, and believes it when others say, “You can do it!”
(Again, stay with me!)
In the last couple weeks, however, I’ve felt things start to shift in my thinking. I attended a conference at the end of July (North American Youth Congress 2017), where God gave me a renewed sense of purpose. Ah! The refreshing contentment that comes with definite purpose! He opened my eyes to how twisted my perspective had been all summer… “Alyssa,” He said, “You’re not going there just to get your education and get out… You’re going to make an IMPACT. Education is just your bonus.” What a reminder! I had a “duh” moment. How could I have missed that? It’s not about getting something, it’s about giving the best of myself and sharing what I have experienced with others. As ironic as it may seem, that’s what I find brings true fulfillment. Since that moment, my excitement has grown. I know I am capable, because I am reminded who I am in Christ–I don’t have to rely on my own strength. He was the one that planted that joy and fearlessness in my heart to begin with, and He never removed it. I had just lost sight of it.
For anyone who is currently confused, this post is about having lost myself, because at some point, I lost the right perspective. This is my adaption of the “lost myself” story. Maybe it’s nothing like yours, but the point of this post is to encourage… You may not recognize yourself right now. Maybe you’re normally on top of things, and you’ve starting lagging behind. Maybe you’re a people lover, but lately, you just don’t want to deal with other people’s problems on top of your own. It might be something simple, like that you’re normally really good about reading books, but you just can’t seem to get around to it right now (been there, done that this summer). Or maybe you relate to my story: You’re normally the go-getter, but you’re just exhausted, and you know what, you just want to let things go. Whatever your story, take a minute right now: breath, reevaluate, pray; whatever you have to do. Question your perspective, and search out the right one. Know that this is just a chapter, not the end of the book.
~Ecclesiastes 3:1, I Peter 2:9, Jeremiah 29:11~