5 months ago, I walked across a stage with a diploma in my hand and a big stinking smile on my face. The battle was over, I had survived and even thrive in college! I was not excited about leaving Howard Payne. I was scared. HPU was the first place I felt accepted. I got to do so much, be apart of so many organizations which gave me a a lot of chances to serve, lead, follow, volunteer, grow, and learn. In highschool, my life was band. College was a different story. I was in band, yes, but I got to do so many other things. I have one huge regret and I didn’t realize what I had done until I graduated college.
I did not spend time with Jesus.
I spent 16-18 hours a day at school,rehearsal, meetings, bible studies, ministry events and homework. And zero time (usually) with God. It’s so easy to pretend, to perform. We all know how to talk the talk. We all know Christianese. As Matt Chandler said, we walk around throwing Christian sprinkles at each other with cheesy smiles on our faces. But deep down we’re suffering. Boy, did I suffer. I lacked in the relationship compartment with God and that’s what matters most. The zero one-on-one time with Jesus had a huge effect on me, post-college.
When I graduated college, all that followed me back to Dallas was Jesus. Guess who I continued to ignore? Jesus. I spent so much time talking about Jesus at school, I neglected to talk to Him. When I got home, there were no group Bible studies, or Student Led Worships, or chapel, or FLEM meetings. I couldn’t walk to my friends apartment and just start talking about our week. There were no more ministry events, or Saturdays at the park. Just me, my house, and a Bible with dust in it. God took this girl (me) who found her worth in doing all the things all the time so that people could see and be pleased with her, He put that girl alone in her home, unemployed and alone. I hated every second.
I felt worthless. And I realized why; I had become so wrapped up in doing things for God, I figured that He loved me less when I (post college) spent all day (all week) inside my house not doing a thing. And somehow He loved me more when I was chaplain, or on a mission trip. That’s legalism people. And man, was I slave to legalism.
I felt alone. And that’s normal, post-college. You start over in a new city, with your friends spread out over the country instead of just being spread out over the campus. I also felt alone, spiritually, because I traded in a relationship, for religion. My time with God in college was the time I spent at events on campus. Group bible studies, chapel, church on sunday, worship on thursday. In between those events? Not much happened between me and God. So, lo and behold I get home and suddenly I’m responsible for how much time I spend with God. And for the first month? Nothing, guys. And it just made things worse. I’m not going to say that I just started praying and all the loneliness went away. Because that’s not true. I’ve learned how to be alone, and how that doesn’t have to equate to loneliness. Instead of moping, I’ve found that I love to go on bike rides, or walks, I like to go feed the ducks in the pond and watch the sunset. I’m learning to love myself, how to love God and be loved in return.
As I’m getting more involved in a church here in Dallas, its tempting to want to jump into the same habits from school. Fill up my schedule with church event after church event, and have zero personal time with God. I’m starting to ask myself a few of these questions, and maybe you can ask them yourself too?
Are you performing for others approval or are you pursuing Christ?
Are you checking off boxes or checking your heart?
Are you doing this to feel more loved by God, or in response to God’s love?
Are you spending more time talking about God or to talking with God?
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, forthey think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them,for your Father knows what you need before you ask him
-Marlie (by the way, i have a job! teaching preschoolers. I love it. more on that later.)