SB2K14 has finally come to and end and I’d like to say that it’s bittersweet, but right now it feels more bitter than it does sweet.
The way I’m feeling now is similar to how I felt last year when I got back from my trip to Chicago. Granted, that was more of a service/learning experiences; whereas, this year’s venture was more of an actual break, it was more fun. Ironically though, even though I didn’t go on this trip with the intent to learn anything, I did. Of course.
For those of you that know me well, you know that I think…a lot. I verbally process just about everything, and the rest of it I blog about. Sometimes (usually) they overlap, truthfully. However, there are the few times that things stay in my head. And that’s hard. This week I kept a lot of thoughts in my head. Don’t get me wrong, I talked quite a bit, but I also recycled my thoughts a fair amount as well.
I’m not sure if it was the beach, or the fact that I was on break with some great people, but there was something about the atmosphere this week that sent my mind running wild. I mean, there were times when I was excited to go to sleep because when I finally sunk into that restful abyss where my thoughts would finally shut down. There were also times when I woke up, but tried to go back to sleep so my brain wouldn’t start yet.
It’s exhausting. Being me, that is.
I know, that sounds rather conceited. And I suppose it is, but as I get older and the more conversations I have, the more I realize how difficult it is for me to relax my body and mind. I can sit still almost all day long, but my mind will forever be running a marathon. But it’s a marathon with no end. (Okay, so that’s not exactly a marathon because it doesn’t actually have an end, but you get the idea). Until I write out what I’m thinking or endlessly talk about it, my thoughts go in a cycle. I can only get so far in my head. I strongly dislike it.
But enough explanation about how I think, let’s delve into some of my actual thoughts shall we?
I think I’m only gonna dive into two, but we’ll see where my brain goes as I write…
1) The ocean is so vast and so are the stars in the night sky.
There was one night when we all chose to have a dance party on the beach (typical of my friends). We had glow sticks, sparklers, speakers and all the laughter. When the excitement died down we split up into groups, not intentionally, but small pockets formed. I found myself sitting with 3 of my friends and as they talked I remained silent. Again, if you know me well, you know that’s really hard for me. I have a lot to say about almost everything. This time, though, I didn’t. The subject they were talking about didn’t have anything to do with me and so I really didn’t have much to offer, even though I’m sure I could’ve found something. 😉
Anyway, eventually one friends asked me “What’re you thinking over there, Jayna?”
Startled, I smiled, took a second to attempt to collect my thoughts and I spoke.
The ocean never sleeps, I began. No matter what time of day or night the waves continually come rolling in and crash on the shore. With that, we can only see the “front of the ocean.” It stretches literally farther than any eye can see in several different directions. God’s grace is the same way. It doesn’t sleep. And sometimes we can only see the “front of it” (the part that applies directly to us). But it is so much more than that. It stretches so far and is constant, it’s never-ending, it’s vast, it’s deep.
And the ocean meets the sky, I continued. The sky is full of millions and millions of stars. (And let me tell you, the stars at night above the beach were BEAUTIFUL this week). The stars in the sky are like God’s love. Bright, beautiful, immeasurable, mighty, captivating. At the beach, in the distance, the ocean and the sky seem to meet. When you can’t see out any further it looks just like the two are touching.
How cool is that?! To have an image of Christ’s love and grace touch. And how cool it was to be in that moment for an entire week. But how cool is it to know that the beach isn’t the only place to experience that? As Christians, we get to experiences that everyday. Inside us, Christ’s love and grace are constantly touching, moving, and exploding through our veins.
And to think, we have friends that we can spend time with. It’s crazy because in those moments, Christ’s love and grace explodes and abounds even more so because of the beautiful connection that comes when other believers are gathered together…
And that brings me to my second thought.
2) Friendship is hard.
One of the most beautiful things the the Lord has blessed me with in my life, but especially this semester, has been my friends. I have both made new and strengthened old relationships with friends and it’s been…a whirlwind to say the least.
It’s hard to be a friend, though. It’s hard to be the person you want to be in order to accurately love someone else. It’s hard to put others before yourself. It’s hard to view yourself as worthy of friendships that have so profoundly impacted you. People often say, “to have a friend, you need to first be a friend.” But I think the opposite holds true as well–“to be a friend, you need a friend.”
I’m not sure if they realize it, but a lot of the reason I am the way that I am is because of my friends. They push me, they listen to me, they’re patient with me, they make me laugh, they make me think, they challenge me, they love me, they ask me questions, they sit in silence with me… If my friends weren’t as crazy and great as they are, I don’t think I could be a friend in reciprocation. Truthfully, I often don’t think I’m being the friend that they need and that’s so frustrating because I want to be that person. I want to be that person so desperately.
The sinful part of me wants to be that friend because I will feel good about myself, but the more Christ-like part of me wants to be that friend just because. No strings attached. No reciprocation wanted, I just want to love and be there for my friends.
Remember when I switched the whole friend phrase? Well, the reason that I can be the friend I want to be (even if it’s not all the time) is because of Jesus. Because Jesus is my friend, the best I’ve ever had, the best I will ever have, I can be a friend to others.
1 John 4:19 says, “we love because He first loved us.” Right now that verse is making so much sense.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 says, “for Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. and he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
Because Christ has loved me so deeply, way more than I can comprehend, I can love my friends. I can love other people. It’s still hard, it’s often confusing, but it’s not impossible.
I don’t understand Christ’s unconditional love for me. I don’t. And because I don’t understand that, it’s really hard for me to understand the love my friends have for me. I constantly feel like I have to earn both.
So, in conclusion…there isn’t one.
I’m not sure if I’ll find one in this lifetime. But I suppose the fact that I don’t really have one allows for me to learn, laugh, cry, and enjoy everything until my understanding is complete in Heaven.
[Lord, thank You so much for all that you are. thank You for the way that You’ve allowed me to think and process. As frustrating and tiring and confusing as it is, i do love it. It makes me, me. may You increase my understanding of Your love for me so that i can love You better and love my friends better as well.]