I am here. I am in college, and I am finding that I am having a difficult time. I am having a difficult time because I finally understand what is important. And it is definitely not anything I thought it would be. It is not the amount of hours I am taking this semester. It is not the fact that I have failed to make any new friends. It is not that I have yet to join a club. It is none of these things.
A few months ago, I had it engrained in my head that those were the things I should focus on. I should invest my time into studying, so I could earn a degree. I should be a leader in multiple activities, so I could have numerous ways to meet a variety of people. I should join a sorority, so I could feel a sense of belonging. I should do all of these things to better not only me, but myself and I, as well.
A few months ago, my best friend’s brother was diagnosed with cancer. I did not know what to say. I did not know what to do. I was at a loss for words, actions, emotions. I was at a loss for everything except for prayer. So I prayed. I prayed that I could relate to her. I prayed that I could find the words to say to make it better and the things to do to make it okay. I prayed for three days straight, multiple times a day. My prayers were answered.
When my prayers were answered, I could finally relate. Three days later, and I was praying for God to take back everything I had begged Him for. The answer was not what I wanted. Not at all. Three days later, and my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I now knew there was nothing to say except for God’s truths. I knew there was no action I could make except for simply being with her. I knew that for my entire life, I had lived so selfishly.
I had focused on my grades, my college applications, my sports, my artwork, my social life. Me. I had focused on me. It was like I was driving the car of my life and the blind spots were everything that did not have to do with myself. I was embarrassed, deeply saddened, and confused. I was also willing to change.
I stopped going to events simply to say that I did in fact attend if they did not cause my heart to feel any joy or excitement or peace. I stopped placing my worth in having unmarred marks on my transcript. I stopped basing my success on performance and perfectionism. I began to not just live, but live fully and freely. I began to value things like spending time with the people I love. I began to embrace the many weird, imperfect qualities that I possess. I began to understand the importance of living intentionally.
I do not have infinite time on this earth. I have a predetermined amount. When I die, which everyone does, no one is going to care or even remember the letter grades I received in high school or college. No one is going to think to himself that I really had an outstanding format for my website. Or that I used Times New Roman over Arial font, and it really made all the difference in making my writing seem more classic and timeless. No one is going to remember that on that one Tuesday, I used a seventy-pound kettlebell at the gym instead of sixty pounds. Or that I stayed and completed one more repetition of the circuit instead of doing the recommended amount. No one is going to remember any of those things that seem like absolutely everything in the moment.
When I die, which everyone does, people are going to remember the things that reflect the truths and traits of God. People are going to remember if I treated them with respect and curtesy. People are going to remember if I was patient in the coffee line. People are going to remember if I made them feel whole, worthy, and loved. These are all things that seem so minor and so meaningless in the grand scheme of everything that everyone has going on. But, these are truly the things that are noteworthy, and these are the things that matter.
A few months have gone by, and I still do not know what to say to my friend, her family, and my own family other than what I have already said. I still do not know what to do except be present. But I have learned that is enough. I do not need to do all of these things to make anyone, myself included, feel better or at peace or anything like that. God has said He has already done it. He died so that we may have eternal life, one including all of those things, with Him. He has quite literally finished it.
So, the answer to my previous question is no. God is not going to un-answer my prayers. He is not going to give me the “perfect” life. He is most definitely not in that business. God is in the business of grace. His character is one of forgiveness. One of loving me in spite of the selfishness that engulfed me for so long. God is also in the business of peace. He is quite literally the only thing that provides me with a sense of comfort in this troubling time of uncertainty. He is so good.
I am still here. I am still in college. And I am still having a difficult time. I know what is important, but that does not make it oh-so-easy. It does not mean that I have my whole life figured out, or that I can breeze through my problems without them taking a toll on me. With too many friends to count or without any new friends at all, with desired grades or without a single A, with clubs or without a clear schedule, with or without anything and everything I once held so dear to me, I now know what is important. I now know what is important, and it is most definitely not anything I once thought it was. Not at all. And I am learning that it is quite okay.