As this is the first update since I started college, I suppose I should give a quick catch-up for those interested: everything is going swimmingly so far, and I’ve survived the first five weeks. Although I’ve lived sort-of in the dorm for four years, it has definitely still been a strange transition to actually being IN the dorm. (Now, if you ever see me in person and feel obligated to jokingly ask how the dorm is, you already know the answer and can preempt that conversation.)
Already, there have been many aspects of dorm life that stretch my introverted self in new ways, and I’m excited to see God orchestrating it all behind the scenes. It’s as if the last two years were pruning, only to allow more and healthier growth to take place. (If you knew me junior year, I’m sorry.) Many old habits are being weeded out and I’m working to replace them with alternatives that encourage growth rather than fighting it. There’s probably a lot more to say on that topic, but that’s for another blog. This post will serve as a continuation for Sufficient part one, so if you haven’t read that one yet, check it out! I’ll wait.
Ok, now that you’re all caught up, let’s continue.
I’m revisiting the topic of Sufficient in an effort to document learning and character development over time, small thought it may be. To be blunt, for a long time I’ve dealt with a desperate desire for a close friendship, while unsure of what it looked like or even if I was capable of such a thing. Whether it is due to simple circumstances or an inaccurate and idealized image of such a relationship in my own head, I haven’t yet come to a resolution in that area. Unfortunately for you readers, this will be a much longer post because of that fact, for now I am free to wonder wanderingly instead of getting to an inevitable point.
A couple months ago, I was prompted by a lesson to begin praying a specific prayer for my heart and desires to be aligned with God’s. To be honest, I hoped this would do away with the loneliness that I’d been dealing with already. (It didn’t, although that’s not to say it didn’t impact me greatly in other ways.) More recently, one of my professors explained the importance of Sabbath in our lives. Since then, taking time to balance work with rest and recognizing that life was made for more than keeping our noses to the grindstone has already had a big impact on my mindset and my ability to work well. One other recommendation the professor had was to invest in worthwhile relationships. This stuck out to me because I realized my previous hopes for a worthwhile relationship weren’t fading with the repetitive prayer, and I figured I might as well trust that God knew what He was doing. Maybe it was His way of trying to get the message through my often-thick skull. I also realized I had formed an idea on my own that there needed to be a point to set aside time for relationships. Apparently, this is not the case, and you can go get coffee with a friend simply because you want to go get coffee together.
This is a comically simple thought to be such a great realization, but for whatever reason it clicked in a new way after that class. It was different from the group events and hang-outs that I had mostly assumed were how community operated. (Side note: is “going to get coffee” just the adult equivalent of “hanging out” as kids?) After class and before the newly-inspired confidence could wear off, I ended up making “pointless” plans with a friend, opting for ice cream over coffee because that’s more in my wheelhouse. After a while, when the ice cream had been either melted or consumed, he asked “So, was there a specific reason you wanted to get together?” I explained my thought process, but hours later as I was falling asleep the question came back to haunt me. Do I need a reason for that sort of thing?
The temptation now is to create a reason. If an idealized friendship is one where sharing such reasons, whatever they may be, is comfortable, then why not just make one up? (I believe I mentioned this in part one, referring to it as codependency.) To be fair, I think there must be value in having someone to mutually share life with, or I trust God would’ve helped clear up that desire and confusion as I came back to the subject repetitively (and hopefully not too annoyingly) in prayer. There is value to sharing legitimate “reasons” and going through the same things with someone else.
As I’ve wrestled with this, I discovered that there’s only so much that can be worked through by writing it out. I find myself wishing I could talk to someone about it; at the same time, how do I bring up the subject without sounding manipulative and pitiful?
“So, was there a specific reason you wanted to get together?”
“Oh yeah, funny you should mention it. I can’t seem to work through these problems on my own and was hoping this might bring some clarity. Wasn’t sure what else to do. No pressure.”
All the doubt and loneliness, seemingly miles away while sitting in that Braum’s, actually remained just below the surface. By God’s grace, I continue to make strides growing in community, and I revisit part one, reminding myself of Rich Mullins’ words in “My One Thing”: “Who have I in Heaven but You, Jesus?/And what better could I hope to find down here on earth?” As I learn the importance of intentional relationships, I must also learn to keep them in their place.
This wondering wander seems to end in the same place as the first. With any luck, there will be a Sufficient pt. 3 eventually, and I’ll wrap this mess up into a neat trilogy. Until then, this remains a highly-edited journal entry, posted in the hopes that some good comes from it.