And then she opened her eyes, and she was a junior.
It’s crazy. The first couple weeks of school have left me tired, overwhelmed, and excited all at the same time. However, with the extreme amounts of homework I’ve been having, my fingers have been throbbing to sit and write, sit and bleed out all the syrupy emotions, but I haven’t been able to. They have swollen and grown red before my eyes. But tonight, I’m putting aside the masses of killed trees that stench my backpack, and I’m going to write. I don’t even care. I can only bottle up these words for so long before they fracture the glass and seep out.
Sophomore year was a challenge. I got cut from the school volleyball team, and was absolutely shattered. I thought I had lost everything. Little did I know, I ended up gaining so much. I became more involved in newspaper and youth group, two things that I’m actually passionate about. I played volleyball on a local club team and was way less stressed. I knew I was just playing for fun, not to get way better or win. I had more free time to pursue what I enjoyed. I felt more confident in who I was.
Junior year is already overwhelming. I know I want to keep my 4.0 to get into a good college, but I also don’t want to constantly be living for the future. I want to involve myself in activities that I love to do, not just so they look good on an application. (They seem to go hand in hand though, which is helpful!) I want to also live in each day and thrive in the midst of stress. I want to rupture under pressure and become a pearl. I have hope for tomorrow. I can dream and breathe and sing. That’s all I need.
Every single day so far I’ve been waking up, opening the screen door, and drinking the intoxicating morning air. The air where the sun isn’t quite up but it’s not asleep anymore either. That air is magic. The magical air filters through my lungs. I dwell in possibility, as Emily Dickinson would say.
To my fellow juniors who are overwhelmed, scared, excited, and confused, and to anyone else who might be feeling this way, remember that your heart still beats, and breathe. Remember that there is still morning air for drinking and stars for gazing. We still burn with opportunity even though our souls feel weary and moldy. We can’t make sense of it all right now, but there is a God who has an intricate, perfect plan for this craziness. That is something I need to focus on this year. In the monotony of homework, in times when I’d rather be doing anything else in the world but that, I will praise him. In the loneliness of friend-less Friday nights, I will let him pick me up off of my feet and dance with me around my room. In times when my heart aches with fear and my veins kink with pressure, saturate my soul until I am purified of those feelings Lord. I want to thrive this year. I don’t want to go through the motions of my busy life. I want to live a life of continuous joy from the well-spring of your love. I want to tap in to this source of living water. Give me freedom from this world. Deliver me from worrying so much about failure. Instead, let my soul glow in the dark. My ember soul dances in the buzzing midnight chaos of this life.
My grandma Juju gave me a list she copied from a book of all the names that God is called in the Bible. It’s an incredibly long and breathtaking list, but one that speaks to me right now is “Lord who is there.” It’s simple, but it seems to me that God loves to speak to our hearts in simple ways. Lord who is there. Lord who is there every second of my day. In my stress and fear of not being enough or making the most of my life, the Lord is there. He’s just…there. It’s a promise that gives me comfort, joy, and strength, the three things I’m searching for most right now.
I recently learned about a powerful passage in the Bible that I’ve been applying to my life. It’s from the book of Sirach, one of the books of wisdom in the Catholic bible. (parentheses are words I’ve added in)
Sirach 2: 1-5, 10
[Daughter], when you apply yourself to the service [and pursuit] of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare your soul for temptation. Humble your heart, and persevere. Incline your ear, and accept words of understanding. And you should not hurry away in the time of distress. Endure steadfastly for God. Accept everything that will happen to you, and persevere in your sorrow, and have patience in your humiliation. For gold and silver are tested in fire, yet truly, acceptable men are tested in the furnace of humiliation.You who fear the Lord, love him. And your hearts will be illuminated.
Illuminate my heart Lord. Help me to persevere in this bitter furnace of dread and desperation for change. Help me to endure so that I can come home to you someday. Help me bite into this tangerine and let its acid sizzle my fears. Help my fire to thrive violently in this dark chaotic midnight. And let my life be paralyzing evidence of who you are.
Top photo by Siegfried Hansen