Whew. What a whirlwind of a June it’s been, and we’re not even halfway through the month. So far, June has been a trip to Mississippi to see family; we took my uncle’s little catamaran out on the reservoir, and I understood the lyrics to Captain by Hillsong like never before. June has been pool days with friends, picking calligraphy back up, studying Spanish, hot workouts, and obsessively cheering on Auburn in the Women’s College World Series (and, consequently, having our hearts broken). June has been making a tough decision that, although it goes against what everyone says is the “correct way,” is best for me right now, and having peace about it. So far, June has been so very good.
June has been a study of Psalms. Can I just say right here: I really, really like the psalms. I like to read them, I like to pray them, I like to write them out and stick them on my closet door (with tape, much to my mother’s dismay). In my past experience, the psalms have been comforting and not particularly confrontational. As I started this study, it was the same way. Psalm 1–law-delighting people are like trees, the wicked are like chaff. Be firmly planted in God’s Word. Okay, great. Psalm 2–I need to pray for world leaders. Check. Psalm 3–give your worry to God. Maybe I’m still working on that one, but it wasn’t a huge deal.
Then I got to Psalm 4, and everything changed. You know how I said that I haven’t ever really felt convicted by a psalm? Apparently I just hadn’t read enough of them. At first glance, as I sat down to do my Bible study a couple of days ago, Psalm 4 didn’t seem like it applied to me. Anger? I’m not angry. I like to think I have a pretty even-keeled personality (I don’t know, my family might tell you otherwise). Search your heart and be silent? No problem. I read the psalm, answered all the Bible study questions, and was about to close my Bible and go on with my day. Then I noticed the final prayer prompt of my Bible study: Talk to God about any anger you are dealing with right now. I started to shake my head and close my phone, and then I realized.
I’ve been dealing with some pretty bad health problems ever since March. This week I went to an asthma and allergy specialist, and was honestly putting a lot of hope into that visit. Instead, my allergy test results were perfect and he said he had no idea what was wrong with me. Not being able to walk up a flight of stairs without pausing to catch my breath is annoying. Looking like I’m not trying at practice, when really I’m just trying to not pass out, frustrates me to no end. Missing several college softball camps this summer makes me ANGRY. There, I said it. I’m really, really, really angry that no one can figure out what’s wrong with me. The irony of all this is that Psalm 4 also mentions joy, which is my thing right now, right? (I’m on day 98 of my Instagram challenge.) It was when I reread verse 7, “You have filled my heart with greater joy,” that I got it. Knowing the joy of the Lord, I scribbled my epiphany in my journal, can help you deal with anger because you can choose to dip into your reserve of JOY instead of getting angry. What a concept. Joy trumping anger. So I prayed. I’ll admit I wasn’t instantly, automatically, not angry about my health. I’m a work in progress, but aren’t we all? It will come.
Something else I’ve been thinking about recently is rest. I’ve seen many articles and posts online during the past few weeks, telling teens to not waste their summer. I absolutely 100% agree with this. I think in the summer, while you have lots of free time that could easily be wasted watching every recommended video on YouTube (believe me, I’ve been there), it’s essential to get out and do something. Help with a local ministry, take a class–just somehow keep learning academically and keep working for Christ’s kingdom. I completely agree. But I learned this past school year that you can’t just go and go forever–especially if you’re an introvert like me, and especially if you’re in ministry. You need a break from anything, even if it’s good. Last fall I was working as a nanny five days a week, teaching AWANA and helping lead the kids’ choir musical at church, and coaching 8U softball. I was working with kids literally every day of the week, not to mention getting up at five thirty in order to keep up with my workouts, college classes, physical therapy (I had surgery last summer), church music, and social life (oh wait, what social life?). I needed a break, but I didn’t realize just how much I needed it until everything suddenly stopped at Christmas. It was the same way with the spring semester and this summer.
So my goal for this summer is balance. I’m still involved in some ministry activities, such as VBS and a mission trip, but I’m taking extra time to further my walk with God. Last fall, my quiet time often fell by the wayside in the midst of all my other activities. You can’t love others like Christ unless you’re close to Him. I’m still learning academically–I’m taking Spanish classes, reading, writing–and I’m still training for softball as hard as my health will allow. But I’m taking a break, too. My to-do list is less urgent, meaning I’m sleeping until seven instead of five-thirty and I’m taking a little time to just lie in bed and watch YouTube videos–just not allll of the recommended ones. (On a side note, I’m currently obsessed with this channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/emmacatherine09. I like to watch makeup tutorials, but I can’t figure out why because I don’t actually like to wear makeup). I’m learning that I can do fun, relaxing little things I want to do (for example, learning manual calligraphy) and still use them to impact others for Christ (hit me up if you want a bookmark with a calligraphy Bible verse). Come August, I know that I’m going to be thrown back into everything so fast it’ll make my head spin (and strangely, as much as I’m loving summer, I’m very excited about my new classes this fall). So this is my time to rest, restore, and refresh for my final year of high school. (Believe me, I did not say the last part of that sentence that calmly in my head.)
One final unrelated thought: if you have not read Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker, YOU NEED TO. Late last night, I was lying in bed reading the chapter that lists stats such as how many children died of preventable diseases last year and how more slaves exist than ever before in human history. For years, every time I have heard about a cause, I want to support it. Any story I hear about any person in trouble tugs at my heart and I want to help. That was what was happening last night as I read that chapter: how could I help them all? My deepest desire is to change the world by loving people like Christ, but sometimes you just don’t know where to start.
I kept reading and came across this quote:
Let no one be discouraged by the belief that there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills–against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence… Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation… It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man (or a woman) stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he (or she) sends a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
–Robert F. Kennedy
*drops mic* So basically, that’s my new favorite quote and I’m about to go write it out and stick it on my closet door (which is getting pretty crowded). Really, how good is it? It reminds me of the song That’s How You Change the World by Newsboys: It’s the prayer in an empty room, little things we do when nobody’s around, a hand reaching out to a heart in doubt, it’s the smallest spark that can light the dark.
Summer 2016: here’s to letting go of anger, resting, learning, loving, and changing the world.