Hello everyone, and welcome back to another long-overdue blog post. I’ve just finished up my first year of graduate school (!!!), which means I can dedicate a bigger fraction of my attention to this blog. This past year has been such an incredible growing experience, both in the classroom and outside the classroom. Outside of school, it’s been a season of learning how to juggle and foster community in all of my social circles, how to find moments of rest amidst the chaos of this season, and how to keep myself from getting distracted from my walk with the Lord. As the title may suggest, the past several months have been nothing short of chaotic, and suffice it to say, I’ve struggled trying to find the constant I’ve previously found in Jesus Christ. Now that I’m out of the storm and can finally feel the dust settling, I’m back and I’m here to share with you all how the Lord has been working in my life amidst all of the chaos.
Before the semester began, I wrote a blog post called “Finding God In The Mundane.” I wrote this during a relatively quiet season of my life and, unbeknownst to me, amidst the calm before a great storm. I knew that going back to school was going to take up a lot of my time, but I didn’t anticipate just how much of my time would be taken up by my new academic obligations. Upon telling one of my friends about my course load – two to three classes each semester – he asked me, “Don’t you have more time now since you’re not taking a full course load like you did for undergrad?” Half-jokingly I responded, “No, I actually feel like I have negative time to spare.” Though I can see how anyone could arrive at the conclusion that I’d have the same amount, if not more, time to spare with a course load of a whopping two or three classes, the opposite is true. Before I went back to school, my days were mind-numbingly mundane – I would go to work, muster up the motivation to go to the gym, come home, and then start the entire process again. My weekends were typically open for hanging out with friends, spending time with my sister, and salt-and-peppering trips to coffee shops here and there. The most out of the ordinary my weekends would get was when I had to wake up a little earlier on some Sunday mornings to help run the soundboard for my church, but even those were structured into my otherwise mundane schedule.
As soon as school started, I quickly realized just how much free time I had up until that point, and couldn’t help but feel that I had wasted so much of that free time. At first, juggling my schoolwork and time between my different social circles seemed pretty doable, but as the school year progressed and my workload began to intensify, I found myself having to choose where to invest the dwindling amount of time I had to spare. Time spent poring into my assignments and away from my groups of friends eventually led to overwhelming feelings of isolation. It didn’t take long for me to feel like any sense of community I once had was now gone. Eventually, I began to act on some dark insecurities that started to surface, and panic attacks became a daily occurrence. Make no mistake, though – I don’t want to make it sound like my woes and insecurities were caused by my decision to go back to school. My days were, for the most part, pretty okay, but when those feelings of doubt and isolation came, they were intense, and it was difficult to see God’s goodness in those moments.
Over the course of the school year, I had moments of relief as the friends I felt far away from assured me that they weren’t going anywhere, and wise counsel taught me how to give myself the same grace that those friends were giving me. Still, storms of anxiety kept coming and any moments of peace I had turned into anxiously waiting for the next panic attack to happen. Just like this peculiar weather we’ve been experiencing in southern California, cloudy skies became a norm, and sunny days seemed like a distant memory. Rain storms came around unexpectedly, and I had no choice but to sit in the confines of my own mind and wait them out until the next one would come around.
At the beginning of the calendar year, my church began going through a church-wide daily devotional into the book of Psalms from the Bible. For those of you that don’t know, the Psalms are a collection of songs written by David during an intensely tumultuous time in his life, and were his way of crying out to God during moments of relief, happiness, guilt, and anxiety. Needless to say, the timing that these daily devotionals came was, at the very least, incredibly serendipitous. Not only could I strongly relate to the words that David wrote, but I also found great encouragement in the fact that even though he was going through his own chaotic season in his life, his faith remained so strong, never turning away from the Lord, and always standing firm in the truth that no matter how hard your circumstances are, God is so so good.
It was over the next few months that I began to notice a heart change within me. Whenever I would journal through those Psalms, amidst moments of both peace and panic, I would remind myself of the simple truth of the Gospel. I thought I understood the weight that the Gospel holds in my life, but one day, everything clicked and seemed to fall into place all at once – and it was really, really good. As I wrote down for the umpteenth time the surface-level consepts of the Gospel as I understood it, I felt a shift within me. For such a long time, I head the head knowledge of what the Gospel was – Jesus died for my sins so that I could be saved – but I was finally beginning to understand what that truly meant. Ephesians 2:8-9 resounded louder and louder in my mind, and I was finally starting to understand it with all of my heart. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
I heard the Lord asking me over and over again, “Why do you live as someone who is not loved?” I was so worried about the state of my relationships with my friends and so focused on how much being isolated from them sucked, that I began believing things that I knew weren’t true. Even if those lies were true, I was forgetting the one true love that should hold any weight in my life – the love of the Lord that is so perfect and unrelenting, that He gave His only Son so that I may be promised a seat at His table for all of eternity. It is so, so true that God is good, but I realized a much deeper and greater reason as to why He is indeed good. Yes, He has rescued me over and over again as I took nosedive after nosedive over the edge into despair and anxiety, but that is not the reason why He is good. God is good because He rescued me from an eternity of despair and promised me a seat at His table for all of eternity. It was by His grace that I have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ, who died the death I so deserve so that I could commune with the Lord for all eternity. Amidst the chaos I was going through, I had a very narrow perspective of God’s goodness, and failed to see things from an eternal perspective.
As the Ephesians verse says, my salvation was not a result of my own doing, but a gift from the Lord so that I may walk with Him, despite my brokenness and imperfections. I had no control over the timing that the Lord suddenly removed my blinders and turned my head knowledge of the Gospel into heart knowledge. Yes, I had to endure countless nights of panic attacks and anxiety, but all of this was so that I could rely on Him to be the foundation of my life, and to make me realize that if I rely on my own strength, I will fail every time. But when I lean into the grace that God gives me, He will always lead me into victory.
Like I said, none of this came on my timing, but in the perfect timing of the Lord. Though difficult as it was sometimes, I just had to keep taking steps of faith, and trusting that the Lord would carry out of the intensely chaotic and tumultuous season. I would be remiss to say that everything was awful one day, and the next day everything was sunshine and flowers. Anxiety still comes knocking from time to time, but I now have a more solid understanding of the truth of the Gospel, and I am able to see God’s goodness, even during the darkest moments. Though I fall a thousand times, the Lord is always faithful. Just like He did to Peter amidst a great storm (Matt. 14: 22-33), Jesus commanded me to take steps of faith towards Him, despite the chaos that was happening around me. When I focused on the intense storm that I was walking through, I lost my footing and stumbled just as Peter did. But when I redirected my gaze onto Jesus, He helped me back up and I pushed through, unafraid.
To anyone going through their own confusing season and unable to see God’s goodness – I assure you that though He may seem distant, He is never far away. I encourage you to keep taking faith steps forward, and trust that He will carry you out of whatever difficult season you may be going through right now. Though you will stumble a thousand times, God always remains faithful. Every storm ends, but Jesus is forever.