A place of writing and reflection…
It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
I suppose winter is a time of much thought and reflection, as well as much change. Though the ground outside is silent and the trees bear no leaves, there are changes taking place we cannot see as well as those we can see. Then there are those changes we only notice when we look back over the years like when your looking over old baby pictures or emptying out that closet at the end of the season in preparation for the next.
Lately I’ve been asked asked several thought provoking questions.
“Where do you think you’d be if…” “What if things had been…”
Looking back on those times I really don’t want to look at the “What ifs“. Should they have ever come to be, things would not be as they are today. I can only stare in awe of all the things that have come to be. Looking back I can see the hand of mercy writing a tale beyond what was expected, beyond what should have been, and far beyond what any of us ever imagined.
Jenni went from being and angry teen to controlling herself—in what at times appeared to me to be a box. She got along with people, sure, but there was still the box. She kept the most wonderful part of her personality locked away because of other’s reactions, or how she thought they would perceive her. Little by little I have watched her her open the flaps of the box, allowing people to get a glimpse of the real Jenni.
She’s enthusiastic about music and has picked up piano in her second year of Bible college. She sings with incredible passion during chapels and worship services. It’s that passion that she pours into whatever it is she does. (In fact, it’s one thing I love the most about her.) She’s also an incredible actress and my usual ‘partner-in-crime’ when it comes to goofing off whether its dancing in the kitchen, quoting movies, or fighting over the last of the animal crackers.
Shelby was the loud girl who just so happened to be my roommate. She was the type that never had a problem with dancing on your desk when you wanted to work on homework, or slamming drawers in the morning when you wanted to get those last fifteen minutes of sleep. She didn’t mind picking the occasional fight or giving her outright, blunt opinion. But she was also a broken girl from a broken home trying to find her place in life.
Oh how I have watched her grow! She has steadily come to realize she doesn’t have to be the loudest one to make an impact. At the same time she doesn’t have to lock herself away in a closet. Shelby can still be Shelby—she’s just more grown up now. Things that use to be a hinderance to her are not, and while she knows she’s not perfect, she is quick realize her mistakes and deal with it.
Hannah was the girl with a plan. She knew how things were suppose to be—in a perfect world that is—and centered her life around it. She had laid out her life in cement, certain that was the plan God for her life. When the storms came, however, and threatened those plans, she hurried to guard them. She played look out over them like a sentry, determined that her plans would unveil themselves the way she had planned, unaware that her relationships with people were suffering.
This girl has come a long way herself. She had to learn that “if you want to make God laugh, make plans” the hard way, but she’s grown up considerably because of it. She’s learned that its okay for plans to change, and that she doesn’t have all the answers, but that God’s way is always the best. She has learned to communicate better with those around her and to treasure her relationships with people and not just those with family. She’s also learned to pace herself in life—there’s no need to rush things, but to enjoy things as they come and go.
Noah use to be the kid with an anger problem turned class clown. He focused on what he wanted to focus on and that was pretty much it. He was kind of like a boat adrift at sea with no particular destination. He thrived on attention, energy drinks, and looking cool with his blaring speakers in the back of his Dodge. (He knows what I’m talking about.)
I’ve watched him grow into more of a brother than anybody else and not just because of his skin tone. He is diligent, and watchful; always showing concern for those around him. If you ever need to be encouraged, this guy is it. Now as for the speakers, at least he’s jamming out to Christian beats getting his worship on with God in the process. And though he’s still the jokester, he’s becoming quiet the leader.
Charles is the guy living a life completely opposite of what others thought he should have been. According to popular opinion, he should have been the guy dealing, carting a gun in his jeep, while kicking it at a job he had on the side. He could have been living it up on weekends and hanging with others doing the same. He could have made nothing out of his life except a few possible jail times and a hard time for his family.
Rather, he is the first in his family to graduate college. He has been on two mission trips and involved in different ministries. He’s usually working camera or rocking bass at church and helping manage the kitchen at his job. He’s one of the first one’s there and sometimes one of the last to leave. He is a leader on the boys hall of the Bible college and in the midst of a bunch of much older guys at work. He’s aware of his gifts and thankful to God as to what he had become. He’s always up for a Christ centered discussion and an encouragement to his family.
Jordan was the northern guy who got himself into much trouble with drinking and drugs. He didn’t much care about what people thought of him and wasn’t afraid to announce his opinions, no matter how rude he may have been. He had become a Christian, and yes, had a radical life change, but it was not enough. There was still much he needed to change.
Slowly but surely, he has grown into the man he was always meant to be—not the goofball causing trouble. He has become a leader and good friend to many of the guys around him. His life story often brings tears to the eyes of grown men much older than himself, yet he continues to persevere in his Christian walk. He knows there is always room to grow and life’s not all about resenting what others “get away with” but staying focused on God. He’s also learned to deal with the consequences for his actions and that it’s okay to learn from his mistakes.
I, myself made the mistake of thinking I was a pretty good kid since I didn’t get into all the same stuff my friends back home did. I didn’t smoke or drink. I didn’t “mess around”, but I still had my own issues. I liked to instigate as well as the occasional pity party when things weren’t going so well. I was also a pretty angry person, but it was something I over looked until I started Bible college and suddenly found myself wanting to fight all the guys. I was quiet unforgiving as well—both with myself and other people. Then we again we can’t forget impatient.
I had to learn the difference between right and wrong anger. I had to learn to let things go and to “forgive and forget” and not to dwell upon the past. I even had to learn when to pick my battles—that meant learning when to keep my mouth shut and when to open it. I learned to be observant of things outside of myself and how to be an encouraging “big sis” to those around me.
Though there is still a big learning curve ahead, it’s nice to look back and see just how far we’ve come so long as we are willing to keep God in the midst of it. What mercies do you see in your life over the past year(s)? How have you changed, despite all the “what ifs”? I’m sure if you really look, you’ll find them. I know I have.
Copyright The Faithbook 2011
Photo Courtesy of Scribbles and Scribes Inc.