Abide: to bear patiently, to endure without yielding, to wait for, to continue in a place
Writing is how I process. Writing has always been my outlet. I’ve never written anything for others’ eyes in this way: halfway between stream of conscious and well-thought-out. I don’t want people to see the messy parts of my life that are out of my control and makes me feel like I don’t have anything in my life together. But I vowed to myself that if I put anything online this year and for the rest of my life, that it was going to be real and it was going to be honest, no matter how disheveled it was or what people might say about it. Maybe someone else feels like they’re at the bottom of a deep valley and needs reassurance too. So here we are.
The past 3 weeks have completely obliterated me, and it feels like everything is coming at me all at once.
I woke up at 4:30 this morning, and the most instantaneous wave of sadness came over me.
Yesterday was so hard. I found out that one of my classmates had passed away in a car accident the night before. It took an hour for me to really process it but once I had, it hit me hard, and I felt its heaviness deep within my core. I had just been sitting in a classroom with him only 4 days ago. We worked on a group project together just a month before. He helped me in one of my hardest classes just last semester. He was going to walk across the stage with a diploma in just 3 weeks. He was going to start a new job after that. I hate that death is something that always causes people to mourn the loss of what someone did for them rather than only focusing on who that person was. I hate that I’m having to use past-tense verbs. Death is so incredibly sad, especially when it’s someone who’s so young and has so much life ahead of them. I can’t even imagine what his parents are going through; no parent should ever have to mourn the loss of their child.
I always say that I’m not scared of death because I know that I have the hope and security of a promised forever without any hurt or pain or fear, a place of eternal peace, comfort and joy in the presence of my Creator once my time on this side of heaven comes to an end. I know that what lies beyond this life here in this broken world is more than anything that I could ever imagine, and I desperately yearn for it each and every day. But while my human heart is here on earth, where brokenness and pain are prevalent and seemingly never-ending, it still aches at the loss of any life.
My heart has been breaking for the past 3 weeks. One of my friends is going through an extremely deep valley, and I feel only a fraction of its weight with each passing day. Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear each other’s burdens, but right now I’m having to do that from a distance and it feels like it’s not enough and that I’m doing it wrong. I feel like I might be hurting more than I’m helping, but I just don’t know.
I’m in my senior year of college. Lasts are coming at me way too fast and all at once. I don’t know how to handle it all, and I just want it to slow down. I feel like I just keep blinking and life keeps passing by and that it will be over all too soon. I’m caught in the middle of wanting to keep moving forward and wanting to pull the reigns back, just for a little while.
I watched a sermon by Matt Chandler a few days ago where he talks about the “Already but Not Yet.” The focus of this sermon was to reflect on the evidences of the already, not yet kingdom of God that is in our everyday lives. I’ve seen so many glimpses of the already in my life, especially in the past few months. The beauty and comfort of being in Christian community with my friends has been the most prominent one. The ability to be open and vulnerable with people who share my beliefs and values, who have their hope set in the same, constant Father, has been the greatest blessing. What I found and learned while seeking God more intentionally and consistently during this past Lenten season showed me even more of the already, and that filled me with hope and the anticipation of His return. But the not yet is tearing me down right now. The pain of my classmate’s passing is such a sorrow-filled part of the not yet that’s affecting handfuls of families, friends, students, and staff. The pain of my friend’s circumstances is another not yet that we can’t see the end of right now but desperately want to go away. The growing pains of closing chapters in my life that are dear to my heart are the not-yets that I don’t want or feel ready to face head-on just yet.
Here’s how Matt explains this hard space: “Here’s what I mean by this doesn’t make sense. I think emotionally you’ve experienced this when it comes to your relationship with the Lord. “I’ve obtained it, but I don’t have it. I’m chasing it, but I already possess it.” Do you feel it? That’s the already but not yet. Christ has given birth to peace, and yet I’m hungry for more peace. God has saved my soul, and yet I find an angsty longing in me for more of what I already possess.”
I’m struggling to see what His purpose in all of this pain is. For the past few weeks, I’ve felt like I’m reaching out into an abyss that doesn’t exist, or that it keeps pulling back so I can’t touch it or even catch the smallest, fleeting glimpse of it. This tense space-between is filled to the brim with a longing that my soul hasn’t felt in a very long time, if ever, and I know that it can never be fulfilled until I’m taken to my eternal home. And that’s what hurts the most.
After I showered off all of my tears this morning, I read Session 13 of Hannah Brencher’s Bible Study. It’s titled: “Stay with Me,” and covers John 15:1-17 where Jesus is telling His disciples that He is the true vine, that the most important thing we can do is to just stay in relationship with Him. Hannah talks about the joy that comes from obedience to our Heavenly Father and the benefits of pruning. She explains that pruning prepares us to handle more, to reach another level with God. I’ve never believed the whole “God never gives you more than you can handle” spiel. Since we live in a fallen world, trials and tribulations come with that territory. But God is gracious and merciful, and He uses those difficulties to give us no choice but to seek Him, to find a home in His steadfast, unconditional love.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.“
I truly don’t understand how people make it through this life without God, without hope of something much greater than this life here on earth. I’ve lost more sleep, cried more tears, poured my heart into more pages of my journal, prayed more prayers, and sought God more in the past month than I think I ever have in my entire life. I’m clinging to His promises because my life depends on them. I’m tirelessly working on figuring out how to truly abide in Jesus, to stay with Him, to make Him the highest priority, despite everything that’s going on around me. I know that none of this is permanent, that it will soon pass away and that His mercies are still new every morning. That even in the if- nots of this life, He is still good. Great is His faithfulness.
… The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is For the Love with Jen Hatmaker. One question she always asks her guests is “What’s saving your life right now?”. Even though it feels like my life is in shambles (sorry, I’m dramatic), I’m holding onto these things as if they were my lifeboat:
- My worship playlist on Spotify
- Hannah Brencher’s Bible Study
- Psalm 30:4-5
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, and His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” – John 15:9-11