If you didn’t pick up on it, my trip to Georgia was good. Too good. I loved being home. I loved being at the Georgia FFA Convention. I loved being around people that I felt loved by. I loved being in my element with my kind of people. I loved it so much that I was caught off guard when I stepped back into my apartment that Sunday after convention and was faced with the reality of how little I loved my current life. Love isn’t really the word I’m looking for. Maybe how little I liked my current life. Nope, not even that. It was more like realizing how much I loathed my current life.
My current life involves schoolwork that fills me with dread and classes that are not my forte. It involves a job that wounds my pride daily as my Master’s-degree-wielding-self stands right alongside the guy who just graduated from high school as we do the same mindless job for the same hourly wage. It involves living in a monochromatic apartment complex colored only by the sound of the baby crying next door that I can hear through the walls. It involves living in a city with way too much concrete and asphalt for my farmland-loving-self. It involves feeling purposeless, directionless, and like this stage of life could be endless. It involves living in the wilderness.
That night, as I stepped back into my disaster of a room, I was forced to reckon with the mess of a life, both literally and figuratively, that I had so gladly left behind as I skipped off to Georgia a week prior. I felt a sinking in my gut as my insides screamed out, “What am I doing here?!!” And just in case he didn’t know already, I began to freely list off to God all the reasons I was not happy here and reminded him that he was responsible for this.
From that wilderness viewpoint, all I could look back and see was how good Egypt seemed to me. I saw a past where I felt purpose and value – never mind the fact that I had just stood in front of 5,000 people and talked about how my value was no longer determined by those things. I saw a place where I was comfortable and secure and knew the next step, despite the fact that I knew it wasn’t where I was supposed to be. It looked good and I wanted to go back. It might have been a form of slavery, but at least it wasn’t the wilderness.
As the oppressiveness of my current wilderness state settled over me like the heat and humidity of a July day in South Georgia, there is no word for what I felt other than despair. And that despair led to a teensy weensy little (read: a gigantic) meltdown. A moment that was really an incalculable number of moments over a two week period each complete with lots of tears and sobs and questions and doubting, and yes, one big gigantic pity party that I threw in honor of my not so wonderful life – as I saw it in the moment. Two weeks where I daily blinked back the tears and put a fake smile on my face as I gritted my teeth and forced myself to continue as much as my heart screamed “Ruuuun!!!!” Run back to safety and comfort and knowing. Run back to anywhere but here, because here feels lonely and scary and hard and I don’t like it. Not. One. Bit.
Those two weeks were filled with every form of doubting and fear and lack of trusting that one could imagine. Truth be told, I decided in that moment that God had not been good to me. As I took my eyes off of him and looked around, I was filled with coveting and a complete lack of trust. I decided to long for what others had instead of simply following my Savior wherever He said to go. I decided to look at what could have been my life instead of trusting boldly that He was still going before and behind me. I decided to pout and fight and be angry and resentful and filled with self-pity instead of trusting that He is good.
And if it sounds like to you that I threw a colossal tantrum like a three year old beating her fists against the floor as she declares to her dad, “Me no want to,” insisting that she knows better than him what is best for her, then you would be correct. Actually, I’ve seen 3 year olds throw more dignified tantrums than the one I threw. But you know, sometimes even a three year old has to grow up and learn how to throw an undignified hissy-fit like only a grown woman can.
This semester has been a time when everything about me has failed in so many small and large ways. Ones that others would never notice and many that they would. In ways that only matter to me and in other ways that most definitely matter to Him. I have failed. I have not trusted. I have lost faith. When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant, like a brute beast before him. Yet, though my heart and flesh may fail, my God you never will.
God has still been gracious to me. Isn’t that what He is though? A compassionate and gracious God. Slow to anger and abounding in love and steadfast faithfulness. He is gracious enough to give me friends who when I told them how I was feeling simply smiled and said, “We know. We’ve seen this coming for awhile.” Then they sat and held my hand while I cried. He is gracious enough to place an older lady on campus in my life who looked me in the eye and said, “Katie, you are walking a real thin line and you are getting rather close to rebellion. You better check yo’self before you wreck yo’self.”
(Okay, okay, she didn’t say that last part….I paraphrased, but she did say the rest and had this been the early 90’s she could have said the last part too)
You see, I am Peter. I am Peter who asked to step out onto the water and walk to Jesus and no sooner does he get out there than he starts looking around at the wind and the waves and begins to sink. I am Peter when he insists that he will follow Jesus even until death and then turns around and vehemently denies him three times in one night. I am Peter who after being told by Jesus to follow him, looks around and sees John and wants to know what is going to happen to him to which Jesus replied, “What is that to you? You follow me.”
Anyone care to join me in repenting and relinquishing control. Just a hunch, but I’ve got a feeling we’d both be a lot happier if we did.