Another year

"Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness..." James 1:2-3

For a long time I have written a blog post at the end of each school year. I write on this blog off and on during the year, most of the time without posting my words because I don't think they are especially interesting. But like looking back at a yearbook or album, I think that a blogged review of my Junior year of college is a good and right thing to do.

Being on the edge of an exciting summer always makes me wish I was at home on my back porch... I think in some ways because I'm always willing my life to slow down.

I know that it is ridiculous to lament growing up when I am 21 years old, but it is my honest truth.

New York City. If you had told 18-year-old me that I would spend two summer months in New York City I would have thought that 21-year-old me had arrived, that she had done it.

But 21-year-old me has lost some of that excitement and replaced it with a desire to do well and make a life for myself. The stakes seem higher now.

My good friend told me today that we were too young to be thinking about adult things.

We are too young to be so old, something like that.

Am I? Are we? When does life begin and adolescence end?

I think on my big days I feel very capable and ready to be an adult already. Let's just get things moving, get on with it.

On my small days, I feel pressed in by a year left in college. Those questions I was asked my senior year in high school revised for my "real life".

Small days can dig deeply and cut into dreams and the life that our Father of light has for us.

Big days are just grace-soaked and we are covered in peace.

Small and big days don't follow a schedule, but they do follow the weeks where my prayers and thoughts are far from or near to Jesus. Not because reading the Bible instantly comforts, but because in simple faith it is good to lean on Jesus no matter what the day feels like.

But the joys of living between those big and small days are real. They are true.

There is such joy to be found in walking away from an old way of thinking and letting someone in to see who you really are, the ugly and the redeemed.

There is joy to be found crying with a friend over nothing because life brings pain and it demands to be center stage sometimes.

There is great joy in saying you're sorry even when the words taste terrible and you don't want to be wrong, but Jesus shows you that you are. He does it gently and with great care not to bruise, only to bind up.

There is joy in repeated pain and conversations that seem to be circles. If you look closely, you can find joy even there.

There is joy in rejection. Joy in acceptance.

There is joy in laughing at yourself for painting and loving the process.

There is joy in saying that life is hard and that those moments scream at you when everything else is silent.

There is joy in being honest.

There is joy in skipping class to be with Jesus for an hour, in crying over lyrics that someone must have written just for you.

There is joy in forgiveness for sins you thought you were too good for, but praise Jesus for showing you that you don't have to be perfect because He is.

There is joy in laughing, watching Netflix, reading books, buying plants and pretty candles, calling your mom, taking naps, cleaning the kitchen, writing in your third journal of the year, running, and singing.

There isn't joy because life always includes an up, a silver lining. There isn't joy because I'm a good Christian. There isn't joy because by Junior year I finally get it.

No, no.

There is immeasurable joy because Jesus says it is so. He says that we can count it pure joy, always.

To live for Him.

To sing with Him.

To cry out to Him in anger and confusion.

To wrap up tight in prayer and feel alone but try anyway.

To give Him the big and the small days, even when the lies whisper and tell you to stay far away from Jesus.

If you read any of my other posts, you'll see a pattern. I run and hide and Jesus always finds me. He comes into my small and brings His big.

He loves me.

He loves you.

I hope that each year brings this same welled-up feeling. The feeling that a new adventure is beginning. I always wondered who would go on my adventures with me, but now I see that I always had a friend.

I've never been alone.

Not once, not possible.

Maybe next year's post will have an exciting job in it, a new city, a big plan. But maybe by next year I will have learned to accept and live in Jesus' joy even more. And maybe no matter where I go or what the next big adventure is, I'll at be confident in the one who will always go with me.

Junior year was about hiding from joy, finding joy and learning joy.

"Jesus, how can it be? He loves me, He is for me..."