I was seriously on the struggle bus trying to come up with a title for this piece.
There’s just a lot that’s happened to me in the past two months, and I really like it when I can find continuous threads or themes to connect everything together and figure out how it all fits so I can give it a pretty title that conveniently applies to everything I cover. That’s definitely the writer-slash-English teacher in me, but there you have it. Anyway, the best thing I could come up with was “Spring Cleaning.” Which is super-broad, but I think over the past few months I’ve realized a lot of stuff about God and life and myself and I just need to get it off my chest. It’s really long, and it’s gonna be in two parts. So, here it goes. Part one.
1. Support-raising is a lot of hard work. Like, I think I came into it thinking that I would just send out my letters and the checks would come and that would be it. But it actually takes a ton of time commitment. Keeping track of the amounts, what form they’re given in, whom you’ve contacted, whom you haven’t, whom you’ve called/emailed/Facebooked, thanking everyone, sending in the checks to the organization, buying stamps, ink, thank you notes, more stamps,envelopes, paper, fixing your stupid printer that is broken again, writing little personalized handwritten notes to the step-great-aunt you’ve met once in your entire life, gathering addresses. Gosh, it’s hard. It’s truly, truly terrifying to ask for money from people, some of whom I barely know, people who aren’t Christian, friends who’ve never heard me talk about my faith before, people who are struggling financially (a.k.a. almost every person in AMERICA), and fellow college students with college-sized budgets. But I realized soon after starting that asking for support was only scary because I was making it about me. My (faulty) logic was this–this money is for me. If they don’t give to me, it’s because they don’t like me or they think I’m weird. But it’s not about me. It’s about God. I’m asking people to help me to build up the Kingdom of Christ. Not build up the Kingdom of Erin, which probably is about as stable as a bouncy-castle with a hole in it. If they don’t want to give, that’s cool. God will provide. It doesn’t say anything about what they think of me. It’s no big deal. And if they do, hey. That money’s for God, not for me. Which is really awesome, because they’re helping to build up the Kingdom of God, which is eternal. I (my earthly-self, anyway) am not eternal. I am dust. And that’s pretty dang humbling. If you would like to know more about what I am doing this summer, receive updates, or support me financially/with prayer, here is a copy of my Letter for you to read. PLEASE MESSAGE ME HERE/contact me on FB/call/text/email afterward if you are interested.
2. Faith is a muscle. And, like all the other muscles in my body, it really needs exercise. Or it atrophies. I’m super-proud of myself for knowing an exercise/muscle word by the way, so yeah, just shows you how much I get to the gym (a.k.a. never). Thankfully, God just waits for all of us to put one little drop of faith in Him. And then He does some awesome stuff. In Matthew 17:20, Jesus says to his disciples, “‘I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.'” And that’s so true. He is so faithful. Nothing is impossible when you know Jesus. He answers prayer. For my first support goal of $1,000, He brought in over half of it two days before the day I prayed it would be in. He met my next support goal of $2,000 and exceeded it, the day I prayed He would do it by. And earlier this week, I was walking home to my dorm and had this weird random urge to pray for three letters in the mail because nothing had been coming in lately and I wasn’t expecting any mail. So I get to the mailroom thirty seconds later and there are three letters in my mailbox. Bam. None of that stuff was me, guys. I would not have any support raised, I wouldn’t be anything in this world if it was not for God’s amazing faithfulness. Now, some of you are like, okay, but what about when your prayers don’t come true? What if God doesn’t give you what you want, when you want it? Yeah, honestly, that sucks. But it’s not because God’s not faithful, or incapable of providing. If I asked, He could turn me into a pro-basketball player tomorrow if He wanted to (although that would be wildly out of character, and if I did that you should probably make sure I’m not having some sort of hysterical identity crisis). But here’s the thing–a good parent doesn’t always give their child what they want, when they want it. That would be terrible parenting. We need discipline. We need patience. God knows best. And sometimes that means withholding the things I think I need in order to give me what I actually need later. For example–I prayed that by tonight, May 10th, I would have $2,500 dollars raised. I am at $2, 465. And I have to admit, I have so little faith in comparison to how big God is. I was like, c’mon, God, really? It’s 35 bucks. You couldn’t give me an extra $35 by today? What the heck. I thought You could do anything. And God’s like, I can. Actually, I’m gonna give you something even better three days from now. Something that will make that $35 look pretty small change. And I’m going to do it on My time-table, in a really crazy way, so that everyone knows I’m doing all the work. And I’m like…sigh…Okay. You’re the Boss. I trust You. I feel my faith muscles growing bigger. Hopefully one day I’ll be ripped.
3. He moves in mysterious ways. Like the U2 song, except it’s not a “she.” God can do some seriously crazy stuff when He wants to. Anyway, depending on who you are, you might have already read this story (I posted it on Facebook), so if you have you can skip it. But it just shows how God uses the least-expected, craziest circumstances to do the most incredible things. Here’s the story: a few months ago, a girl, Allison, from my high school that I barely knew randomly friended me on Facebook. I never said a word to her for months and wasn’t sure why she had friended me, but I never un-friended her or anything. But then, a few nights ago, she liked my profile piture with My Life in 2 Words on it, so I was like, huh, maybe I’ll invite her to my OC event, Erin’s Going to Ocean City Summer Project, to see if she’s interested. So I did, she said she was coming, and she posted her home address. Two minutes later, she messaged me and said, “Girl, we should have been closer in HS! When did you come to know the Lord?” So I told her I didn’t become a Christian until my freshman year of college, and she was like, yeah I didn’t become a solid believer until college either, even though I grew up in a Christian home. And I was like, yeah, I’d love that for my sister, too, cause she’s going off to college next year, and I don’t think she knows much about what authentic Christianity is. And she was like, where is your sister going to school? I told her, Michigan State–and she said, that’s where I go too! Then I asked Allison what her major was, and she said, Elementary Ed, and I flipped the heck out because my sister is going to major in the same thing! I told Allison and she freaked out and said she loves freshman and would love to hang out with my sister once she starts school and get to know her. I just want to emphasize that I had hardly spoken more than two words to Allison in the six years that I knew of her. And God used her, not only to possibly support me on my trip, but to be a friend and godly mentor to my sister while she’s away at school. That’s huge. Nuts, I tell you. Just insane. I really ought to expect crazier things from Him. Pony, if you’re reading this–I love you and I don’t know if you know this, but I pray for you all the time. Hopefully this does not make me creepier to you than I already am, ha ha. I’m gonna miss you a lot, but you’re going to have an amazing time in college, whatever you end up doing. God loves you,my seester :)
4. I am really lazy. Sloth isn’t just an animal, guys. It’s not cute. Here’s the thing, though. Here’s why it’s taken so long to diagnose: I disguise my
laziness with busyness. Did you know you can be super busy without actually being productive? I’ve got that one down to a science. Looking up grad schools sounds very productive, but when I have an essay due tomorrow? Not so much. I over-commit myself, too–and that causes laziness. I’m so exhausted by all the things I do–class, homework, Cru Bible study, church Bible study, discipleship, large group Cru meeting, working 12 hours a week, a cappella, church, worship band rehearsal, teaching Sunday school, writing, sleeping, eating, hanging out with friends, support-raising. It’s probably unhealthy. I’m not sure how to balance myself yet. I don’t like saying no to people, so I do everything. And as a result, I get stressed and overwhelmed and all I can do to calm down is watch an hour of TV–or five. It’s a vicious cycle, really. On the other side of the coin, God values hard work–in Colossians 3:23, Paul writes, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” And He also values rest–real rest, not mindless TV or social media websites. Jesus even told his disciples to take a break from ministering to people in Mark 6:31: “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” In order to properly deal with life, we need time to process, to meditate, to actively do nothing–or, as my Teach Ed professor so aptly put it, “A kid…he needs time to sit around and pick his nose.” So, suck it up, Erin. Learn to say no. It’s okay to have free time. Don’t let anyone judge you. And take your ADD meds, focus when you need to get stuff done, and stop complaining when you have to write 5-page-papers on the morning that they’re due because you were too busy watching TV reruns on Netflix last night because you felt “overwhelmed.” You know what’s overwhelming? God’s watching you watch that sixth episode of Alias. You’re lucky He loves you and forgives you unconditionally because of Jesus, or you’d be toast. Unbelievable.
Part two coming soon.
Wow, I feel like I’m a Harry Potter movie or The Hobbit or something.