I want so badly to grow. I don’t know if I am. The vast majority of my days is spent in this repetitious cycle of classes and conversations, of studying and sleeping and eating and exercising, feeling and failing and feeling some more. I have tried–I am trying–to be intentional in the way I live in college. Working out three or four times a week. Asking people to meals (a huge ‘risk’ for someone like me). Reading the Word daily, or almost daily. Attending 7 AM prayer meeting at Living Water, which is considerably later than the Antioch summer prayer meetings and yet feels just as tiring in the midst of my late-night college lifestyle. I am trying. I am longing. I want to be someone God is proud of. I don’t want to be such a good person; I just want to be someone who is so bad and yet trying so hard to do good things every once in a while. Not someone who is strong but someone who offers her weakness to God and asks Him to make a Hallelujah out of it.
Sometimes I just think to myself, I’m still here. There have been so many chances and even temptations I could have seized upon that would have resulted in me not being here today. So many. And I didn’t take them. I don’t always know why. Sometimes, sometimes I wish I did. But I didn’t. I am still here. There is a reason for this. There has to be. I had such a small chance of being born alive and yet I was. There have probably been so many moments that I’m unaware of that could have resulted in injury or illness or loss or even death, and yet I am here, safe and alive and threatened only perhaps by my own self. I don’t know why. But I know what I want.
I want to grow. That’s it. I want to grow as a “Christian”, and I claim the fullness of that word even with all of its connotations, its positive and negative implications, its ambiguities, its baggage, its despised-ness, its loved-ness, its stake on the altar and the hearth and the crucifix. I want to grow in love, with God and with the people in my life. I want the Gospel to swell inside of me and overflow into every crevice of my being.
But I know. I know how weak I am. More than that, I know how weak I don’t know that I am and yet that I actually am despite my lack of knowing. College has not proved to me the strength of my convictions or faith or dedication or discipline. It has revealed to me the weaknesses of them, the flaws in them, the way I can so easily dispose of them if I am not careful, am not intentional. It has revealed to me the extent of my weakness and brokenness and is humbling me so much faster than I could have imagined. Even as I write these words, I am coming out of a difficult week. I am still feeling the after-effects of a deeply painful night, still feel shaky, like someone who has gotten off a violent roller coaster and is trying to find her footing. I am so weak. I can think of few things more reminding of my own weakness than child-like weeping. I am a child. I have no language but a cry, and most of the time even that language is jumbled and tired and afraid.
God’s power is made perfect in weakness. I’ve heard it so many times. I don’t know if I truly believe it though. It is so counter-intuitive. It goes against every muscle in my body. I want to have it together, I want to read my Bible every single day, I want to love other people better than myself. But I can’t, I just can’t do it. I am messed up and I forget to read my Bible or I often just don’t care enough to and I am selfish to the core of my existence. I need help. I am so aware of how fragile I am. All the good in me can crumple like sand if God is not the one forming me. I know. It almost makes me want to laugh, just how aware I am in this moment, in this week, of my own brokenness.
Father, I don’t know what to do with all this. All these words. All these emotions and paradoxes and truths that shouldn’t be true and yet that are, and all the lies that feel so true but aren’t. I need You. I want You. I want to grow. Why else am I here? Why else did I choose to be here today, and am still choosing even right now to be here, and why else am I striving and hoping that tomorrow can be better? Because You didn’t create us as static creatures. You created us–You created me–with the capacity for growth, and I ask for that. If it has to be this hard, I choose to believe You’re refining me through the pain. I choose to believe that, like Rilke, I can say, “How precious you will be to me then, you nights of anguish.” I already see some of the growth in tiny, fragmented moments. How I am learning to love Your word more. How my heart aches when I hear of other people’s suffering. How when people ask me, “Do you feel God?”, it’s starting to feel like asking what shape the water is–it’s just a category that seems to make less and less sense. My decreased dependence on “feeling” You and my increased awareness of Your presence through the Word. But don’t stop, Lord. My weaknesses far outweigh the little growth I’ve made. Keep going. Keep refining. Keep pruning. I need You. I have never needed You more. Maybe that is how it is supposed to be. It’s not just every day loving You a little bit more; it’s every day needing You a little bit more as well.