What do you think when you hear the words, "Happy New Year!" Most people, from what I've seen, are filled with one of two emotions: Hope or dread. This year, I experienced a mix of both.
You see, whenever something new starts, it's always exciting. New year, new semester, new classes. One could almost say a new you. But there's always that little niggling doubt of what's to come. I usually tend to ignore the doubt in favor of the hope. And therefore, I always go to one end of the extreme spectrum.
I assume that the change of calendar means that all will be made new - and that means that everything being made new will be pleasant.
It's usually when I make these assumptions that I get a reality check.
This week, I'm back at school, which is where I've been wanting to be for the past week or so. I've officially been to all of my new classes. I've seen most of my friends again. I should be overjoyed. And yet I'm not quite so. I feel emotionally raw and overwhelmed.
Yet amidst my struggles and, for some reason, inexplicable pain, I can't help but see how God takes care of me.
This Wednesday I found myself crying in chapel. I'm not talking a few tears slipping down my cheeks. I'm talking open, gut-wrenching sobs that I'm sure everyone within five feet could hear. Sometimes I can sing through the tears and I can continue to stand when my knees are shaking.
This time I was in my seat, unable to even squeak out the words. I listened to the worship team singing "More Than Conquerors" by Rend Collective and couldn't help but feel...a bit less than one. Actually, I felt a little pathetic.
Here I was, slave to fear. Fear that all is not as well as I like to think it is, that somewhere my life is just waiting to be torn apart at the seams and I won't be able to stand it. That I'll break under the pressure.
Fear has always crippled me. I was a neurotic kid who couldn't even voice the names of natural disasters for fear a tornado would touch down fifty feet from where I was standing. The kid who never went outside because of snakes.
Twelve years or so later, my fears have changed. They're less physical and more emotional. Mental. I fear that I won't make it financially and end up living in a cardboard box under a bridge. I fear that I'll discover I'm not as sound mentally as I thought. As is expected with my diabetes, I occasionally fear not waking up in the morning.
And, as usual, I fear winding up alone.
Sure, that applies to dating and such, which is how most people use the term "alone." In fact, sometimes I look around at all the people around me starting relationships and, besides feeling alone, I feel a little left behind by it all. But this stems from an even deeper fear which affects all facets of my life.
I fear that I'm unlovable. By anyone. In fact, sometimes I'm quite convinced my mother is the only one who will love me no matter what. Because, fortunately, this isn't some deep, twisted result of my childhood. My parents were very loving to me my entire life. Do I know how this insecurity came about, then? Yes. Does it matter? Not at the present moment.
The point is, I worry that I'm just being tolerated until someone better comes along, in my friendships, both close and casual. That I'm irritating and overwhelming.
And at the moment, I was worried that my absolute inability to care about bearing my emotions in public was making people uncomfortable.
You know what? Maybe some of them were. But I listened a bit closer to the words.
"We will not bow to sin or to shame
We are defiant in your name"
In that instant, I realized where all my insecurities were coming from. They were straight from the mouth of our Enemy. And I balled my fists. Because if anyone makes mild old me feel defiant, it's the devil.
Oh, Lord, this hurts, I prayed. This constant, nagging, choking fear. Didn't I ask you not a month ago to please be gentle with me?
And in that moment, I realized that the past weeks have been nothing but God being gentle with me. It's been one of the most draining times of my life, emotionally, mentally, and physically. I knew then that, no matter who comes around me and loves me on Earth, I will always have my heavenly Father to love me.
Am I enough for you? He was asking me.
You've always been enough, I whisper.
I stayed that way throughout the rest of chapel, still sobbing my heart out, but this time with a combination of pain and joy. God was always there, even when I was too distracted with pleasing those around me to see it.
And then He did something wonderful. He blessed me with my beautiful roommate and friend, as He has done so often. The worship concluded, and she didn't ask questions. She didn't try to get to the bottom of my troubles. She simply held me as I sobbed some more.
He sent me that which I long for most.
Tangible signs of love.