I believe in God cares for us even when we don’t care about Him.
Growing up, I learned to dread Sundays and Wednesdays because that meant church. God was – and still is – a big part of life in my family and for the years I resented my parents for insisting that He be a big part of my life as well. When I rebelled against them as a teenager, I turned away from God mostly because I knew doing so would hurt them more than anything else. And hurt them I did. After I realized what a jerk I had been I came back to my parents and asked for forgiveness – which they graciously gave. Now, though I politely decline most of their invitations, I go to church with them again. But my heart is torn. When I pray part of me reaches out to God and the other part knows He would never have anything to do with the likes of me. Day to day, the stronger skeptical side whispers doubt to the faithful.
It’s easy to reach out to God when there’s no where else to turn. While it may seem trivial in light of a world full of war and hate, I have found myself praying more in the past month than I have in years. This is my last semester in college – assuming I get through these last 18 credit hours – and in two weeks I should graduate with a bachelor of arts in journalism and mass communication.
On top of the most demanding workload I have ever undertaken are expectations of my parents – whom have so graciously and patiently supported me through school – and my own expectations. Since I didn’t go to college right after high school, most of my friends are already leading independent, “real” lives. Through the world’s eyes some have had more career success than others, but when I look at them I see everything I failed to achieve. Some of them are married, some are divorced; some have children and families of their own. While their circumstances are as unique as each of them, I feel like a failure when I look at their lives. Here I am, still more or less completely dependent on my parents, barely making it through my classes, in a very real danger of not passing all my classes, and no job prospects in the near future.
The prospect of not walking down that commencement line in two weeks eats me alive. Some mornings I feel so helpless, so worthless, I don’t even want to get out of bed. While waiting to cross the street to campus last week, I could see myself stepping out into traffic. Death was not part of the fantasy. If I was hospitalized, I thought, at least I would have an excuse for falling so far behind. As I crossed the street, the weight of my daydream sank in and I nearly broke into tears in the middle of the street. The weight of expectation and the stress of deadlines met and missed overwhelmed me. I prayed: help me. My heart cried out and my mind lashed back: how can you feel so sorry for yourself? I thought of the horror of what had just happened at Virginia Tech. The students. The parents. The familes. No one shot at you this week. My heart broke for them all over again. How could you be so selfish? Who are you?
Then, part of a verse from Mathew I had heard a thousand times my life came back to me. “Look at the birds, they do not sow or reap away in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable then they?” I was the grub between the beak of the smallest bird just then and a wave of peace washed over me right then. I felt God’s hand as real as the concrete beneath my feet. As tiny and average as my problems were, as many times as I had ignored and doubted and denied God, He was right there beside me and I knew he would be tomorrow – no matter how I ignored Him.
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