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The beauty in leaning on Christ
"It will be okay."
Words I'm sure you force to run through your mind about as often as I do. Some days it's easier to believe than others, but it's something you just continue telling yourself whether you believe it or not. So as a person that understands let me just tell you something… it is okay.
It's okay to be okay, but it's also okay to worry. Now, don't hear me wrong. We are told that God does not give us the spirit of fear, and that is beyond true. Worry and fear and doubt, those are all things that are part of our weakness as human beings. They are all things that God didn't intend for us to have to encounter in His perfect vision for His creation. But now, they are all things that Christ wants us to fight through because when we fight through them, we find ourselves leaning that much more on Him and growing in Him more than we could ever imagine.
People have told me all my life, "you worry too much" or "you know, you really shouldn't worry so much." But, it's part of who I am. It's a weakness that reminds me just how much I need my Lord to be in my life every single day. There is nothing more incredible than coming home from a day that has me choking back tears with my blood pressure through the roof and questioning every decision I've ever made or will make, picking up my Bible, and immediately being put at ease by what God has to say to me.
Now, it's not always that simple. There are some days that nothing, and I mean nothing can bring me the peace that I am longing for. No book of the Bible, no verse, no worship song… nothing can suffocate the worrying beast inside of my mind. It's on those days that I just have to be patient. I have to remind myself of the Lord's infinite and perfect patience with me and try to reflect that the best I can. On those days I pray and I write. I do my best to make sense of whatever is plaguing my brain, but also have to remember that even if I can't make sense of it, I just have to keep faith that God is in control.
Keeping faith. Something that's easier said than done. And if you're like me, you question God way more than you should. Something happens that just does not make sense in any capacity and you just ask "why?" "Why did you have to close the door on that incredible opportunity?" "Why was I so wrong about what I thought you wanted for my life?" "Why did he have to leave me?" "Why do I disappoint the people I love?" "Why am I not good enough?" "Why did you choose me for this task?" "Why am I in this season of life?"
Then a new a wave of worry hits me. One that involves guilt. Why am I not strong enough in my walk and my faith to not question God? I am already so unworthy of His grace and mercy, and now I just feel unworthy of His love on top of it all. He deserves my full faith and trust and yet it is a battle everyday to be at peace and trust in Him. In my heart I know that He is more than enough to fulfill me, yet the everyday rejection of the world still consumes me. Why don't I radiate His joy everyday, knowing that I have the greatest joy in my salvation? Why don't I scream of my awesome God to the whole world? How do I have the right to be sad when I live an amazingly blessed life and above all, have Christ as the Lord of my life? Am I really genuine in my faith and am I putting enough into my walk if these things are still holding me down? Why do I doubt His power?
But then I am reminded that God is patient. He has made me in His image. He loves me. He wants me. I am enough for Him. Even the parts of me that annoy or bother other people will never push Him away. I might not talk a lot, but He talks to me daily. I may worry about the future, but He has my future in His hands. I may feel completely worthless, but I mean the world to Him. He had me in mind from the very beginning and was patient enough to craft me exactly how He deemed good, so He is patient enough for me to find Him continually throughout each and every day.
So though the spirit of fear and worry is not something that God wants us to have in our lives, don't write it off as the worst thing just yet. Should we let it consume us? No. Do we need to recognize that it is something Christ wants us to fight? Yes. Will it be easy? No. Will it make us feel completely worthless and helpless more than we'd like? Most definitely. But, that is where the beauty of the gospel and power of Christ can intervene. Jesus uses the broken and unworthy. As we battle daily in the name of the Lord, we grow in Him. But it has to be a battle. When we let it completely consume us and simply accept it is where the devil will be able to attack at full force. Don't give him the upper hand. Christ is worth fighting for. Therefore, you are worth fighting for.God will never let a moment of pain or anguish go to waste for His children, just like the cross was not and never will be a waste.
I do not cry.
I am not strong, nor do I aspire to be.
I do not cry.
Tears may be shed at every occasion, but my eyes remain dry. Every voice tells me to cry, but I can't.
When I need the tears most, where are they? Lost in a past life so that they abandon me now.
Does my empathy seem void? Doesn't it please you? I feel sadness with no tears to prove it.
I retreat to my rocking chair beside my window as rain comes to my aid.
While my eyes ache with dryness, the rain cries for me. It calms me.
Raindrops drip from the leaves and trees. They cry as well. They cry for me because I cannot.
And it is truly beautiful.
I traveled to the motherland for a few weeks and here's what I thought.
India is a crazy place to travel to. There are crazy amounts of people everywhere, poverty beyond belief, and a difficult language barrier for most. This isn't my first time going to India, but the most eye-opening trip by far. In past trips, they have been surrounded around exciting weddings or strictly to visit family in various cities. I dragged a friend along with me this trip to visit Hyderabad, Jaipur, Mumbai, and various random destinations for tourism, and she too got to see all of the amazing aspects of India.
One eye-opening experience for me was going from Jaipur to Agra, the city where the Taj Mahal is. Agra is in Utter Pradesh, or UP. This state is not only the most populated state in all of India, but also one of the most corrupt, as those two are correlated. Regardless, as we drove through it, there were crazy amounts of poverty, alongside the main road. People filled the streets, vendors of all sorts trying to sell tokens, combined with broken roads, made it impossible to travel along. It took about 30 minutes to move about 2 kilometers or roughly 1.2 miles. But there's the light at the end of the tunnel, and the Taj Mahal was breathtaking. The pristine marble, the detail, the grand stature of it, the beauty is inexplicable. Yet, the two contrasting scenes, the devastating poverty and the regal world wonder, are crazy. How India can have such extremes within minutes of each other.
Another thing about India that stood out to me was the level of chaos. As a driver myself at home, seeing how people drive and how the traffic moves along, physically pains me. There's no concept of lanes in India, and I don't think I've ever sat in car that didn't beep every minute. Additional to all of the car traffic, the foot traffic reflects the large population. There are people everywhere, filling up every nook, and always a crowd in open markets to move you along. I have no complaints or criticisms about all of this, all of this is just open observations.
All in all, India is an incredible experience that someone could have. If I had to describe it in two words, I would call it "beautiful chaos". There is beauty in so much of India if you approach it with an open mind, as there is very different style of life than that of at home. There is so much rustic beauty, from stunning old forts in Amer, to the vibrant pink buildings filling up Jaipur, to peaceful tea mountains in Kerala. There's all of this to enjoy and I'm not even diving into the large large family that I have, with tons of cute little children to keep me going at every second. India for me, is always a fun and exciting experience, and this trip was eye opening to the realities of the "motherland".
"I locked the door, shaved my face, made myself comfortable on the toilet seat and shot a little dope."
I've always been an easy person to talk to. It's not that I have a cheery face. I only smile when I'm genuinely happy. But for some reason people just come to me.
It's not a rare occasion when a stranger approaches me and tells me about their life, but there was one man I met who I will never forget.
I had just finished my last class and was hurrying to the train station to catch the 12:25. I sat down on the bench, put my headphones in, and zoned out. It was hot outside and the smell of garbage nauseated me, but there wasn't a trash can in sight.
I heard a thick Boston accent, "Hey hun, do you have a ticket?"
I spun around and ripped my headphones out of my ears. I was shocked to see a man behind me.
"I uhh," I paused. "Yeah, why?" I asked startled.
"I don't have any money and I need to go to Jefferson Station. They wouldn't let me on the El because I was fifty five cents short."
He was filthy, wearing cut-off jeans, a tank top that said "California" and a pair of brown Vans that were once white. His eye lids fluttered and he sat down next to me on the bench.
"Sorry," I lied. "I don't have any money."
I looked at his arms, covered in track marks and I wanted to cry.
"It's okay. Where I'm from I never pay to get on public transportation," he said casually with his face in his dirty palms.
"And where are you from?" I asked.
"Boston," he answered. "I didn't pay to get here though."
I looked at him, confused.
He took his face out of his palms and gazed at me with empty eyes,
"I got in line for the Amtrak, pushed past people and said I had to use the bathroom. I located the bathroom in the last car and locked the door, shaved my face, made myself comfortable on the toilet seat and shot a little dope."
"I'm sorry," I said with a blank expression.
"I am too. I wish I never started."
I wanted to cry but I nodded instead.
"What about rehab?" I asked stupidly.
"I want to go," he nodded. "I do, but I can't."
"May I ask why you're here?" I corrected myself. "Like, in Philly."
The train arrived and he stood up.
"It's a goldmine for heroin."
I sat down and looked over my shoulder. I knew he wanted to sit with me but he chose not to.
I showed the attendant my trail-pass and he moved on to the man behind me.
"I already showed you my ticket three stops ago," he lied.
The attendant shook his head: "Yo, don't lie to me man. You need to pay."
"Why do I have to show you twice?" He continued to lie so effortlessly.
The attendant pulled out a walkie-talkie and explained the situation.
The man paced the aisles of the train asking everyone for money or a ticket.
Jefferson Station was next. The train stopped and the man said, "I don't want to get arrested, can someone help me?"
He got off the train and there was someone in a Septa uniform waiting for him. I gave him one last look and turned my head and felt tears rolling down my face.
All I could ask myself was, "Why?" Why did this man feel such pain that he had to jab a needle in to his arm just to feel alive?
I knew he lied and stole, but that wasn't him. It was his addiction. As much as I wanted to pay for his train ticket and get him out of trouble, I knew I couldn't.
I couldn't give this man the required fare so that he could walk away and get his fix. I couldn't live with myself knowing that he could so easily lock the bathroom door, shoot up too much. and die alone.
Although this man will not remember me, I will remember him. He is not a junkie or a low-life, because there is no such thing. An addict is an addict, and addiction is a disease. I won't judge someone for having a disease, this man is someone's son, best friend, etc... he is more than his addiction.
You don't just have to watch Netflix all day.
With finals week upon us, it's hard not to think about summer break. With 3 months to sleep in, watch Netflix, and finally get a tan, things can get pretty boring. If you aren't spending your summer abroad, or partying it up at the shore, don't worry, you're just like the rest of us. Here are 7 things to make your summer break a little less boring.
1. Go for a day trip.
Whether you live near a beach, a major city, or in the middle of nowhere, finally make a trip to that one place you have been dying to go to, but never had the time to visit.
2. Go for a hike.
If you're feeling active and adventurous, grab one of your friends and go on a hike! Who doesn't love some good cardio with a view?
3. Go shopping.
Because who doesn't want cute summer clothes??
4. Go to a music festival or a concert.
Summer is the best time for outdoor concerts and music festivals. Find out what artists are performing near you and have a fun night out with your friends.
Brunch is the perfect meal because if you sleep until noon, you can still have time for some brunching. Find a cute restaurant and get youself some bomb avocado toast.
6. Visit your college friends.
After being home for 2 weeks, you're going to be having some serious separation anxiety from your college friends. Plan to visit them in their hometown and spend some quality time with your college BFF.
7. Road trip!
Going on a road trip is probably one of the most basic summer plans in the book, but it can be a lot of fun. As long as you have someone on aux, snacks, and a group of friends who won't kill each other after spending hours in a car it's a great way to make summer memories!
1. Brittany Morgan,National Writer's Society
2. Radhi,SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign