For the past week and a half, I’ve been trying to live out what I wrote in my last post. I went with a group of friends to see the Twelve Apostles and coast along part of The Great Ocean Road. It was incredible, wicked hot and filled with flies, but incredible. Pics or it didn’t happen so here:
(Taken on iPhone 6S because I don’t feel like upgrading tech all the time 😑)
My time with them was refreshing, but also quite revealing of my heart and mindset, introspection takes no vacations. One of the guys with us named Anthony was from California, he had just finished serving the poor in the Philippines with some other members of our church over the holiday season. Anthony is the epitome of zeal, youth, freedom, and optimism. He has gone through more in his 20 years of life than most people ever will from birth to death. As we began our road trip, he immediately began sharing with me the most vulnerable parts of his life and how God has freed him from all he had experienced throughout childhood and adolescence. From sexual abuse to parental troubles to drug abuse to romantic heartbreak to becoming a follower of Christ and going to counseling, he spoke about it with complete abandon. For him, the trip to the Twelve Apostles was a ceremony for him to release all he had gone through into the vast ocean so he could continue moving forward with God. To say this kid is inspiring would be an understatement, yet instead of being inspired, the main emotion I was feeling was frustration. Naturally, I started investigating the root of my feelings.
In general, I’ve always envied people who have had more unfortunate lives than mine because they tend to have a greater understanding of God’s love, a deeper gratitude for life, and tons of perseverance. I mean it’s actually biblical sooooo I’m not necessarily wrong:
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
The better perspective of course is that both parties have certain spiritual aspects they’ll grasp quicker than the other and we have much to learn from each other, but here I am being a hot mess human.
Another thing I believe contributed to my frustration was Anthony’s intense enthusiasm ALL. THE. TIME. Not necessarily because he was loud and impressed by every single thing he saw and heard, but because I didn’t have that enthusiasm anymore. I’m only 25 years old, but it seems like I aged about 30 years in the past 3 or 4 years. I have to say, I miss the younger version of myself who found enjoyment, adventure, and excitement in everything. Not sure if it’s simply because I’ve grown up or if I’ve allowed certain parts of myself to be completely ruined by discouragement. Spending time with Anthony made it glaringly obvious how much I allowed the worries of life sap my energy. I did NOT like it. But I needed it. I needed it so much.
To add an extra pack to the punch, one of the lessons at church this week was about being careful not to lose our spiritual fervor. The longer you walk with God, the more trials you face and your faith is tested more intensely. It’s not called “being refined by fire” for nothing! But I found myself slowly becoming one of those cynical Christians hardened by hardship instead of enriched by it.
“Ah, having crazy faith for God, I remember when I was young in my faith like you. Taking risks and having no doubts about God’s power. Just wait until the trials come young man. Rejection and discouragement will weaken you. All this talk of hopes, dreams, and adventure are meaningless. Silly youths.”
I decided to not settle in a job I wasn’t passionate about in a state I didn’t necessarily love, but I definitely settled in my hope for the impossible to happen. In my first few years following God, I was constantly dreaming, scheming, and praying about what God was going to do in my life and with me. The train could not be stopped. If 20 year old me met up with 25 year old me she’d be like, “WHAAAAAT WE’RE IN AUSTRALIA IN THE FUTURE?!?! YESYESYES!!! But wait…why are you so stale in your faith? Do you see where you are now? How can you not see what God has done?! You should be so faithful and encouraged!!” Then she’d freak out about slipping through a rip in the space time continuum.
I’d like to think crossing paths with Anthony was a gracious wake up call for me to return to the path of being that cool, risk-taking, full of explosive faith old woman I’ve always aspired to be. A female version of the ever-inspiring Caleb in the Bible who kept his fire well into his eighties if I’m given that long to live.
“Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day.”
And thank you Anthony for simply being yourself, can’t wait to see all of the amazing things you will do in this life!! You will inspire many with your journey and electric personality. You have taught me to continue gaining wisdom without losing the joy of youth and pretty much everything else in this post. You rock dude 🙂