Archive for May, 2017

I’m Not a Different Person

It’s a Friday in May. It’s another end of a college semester. Only it’s not just. It’s my last end of a college semester, because tomorrow, I graduate.

I have spent four years six hours away from home in a new state near a big city at my small school.

Around this time of year people start getting nostalgic, especially those of use who are graduating. We start reflecting on our time and memories from college and what’s ahead for us. There are a lot of lasts and a lot of goodbyes. Lately I’ve heard and read a lot of fellow graduates’ thoughts on how they changed during these last four years, and how they are different people from the freshmen just beginning this strange middle ground of not-quite-adult-yet. And a lot has happened in these last four years. But as I’ve been reflecting on my time, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not a different person from who I was when I moved here.

During my time in college I’ve been stretched and challenged in many ways. I’ve had to work harder than ever before to have academic success. I’ve met a lot of people and had amazing and challenging relationships. I’ve had the privilege of having many amazing experiences out in schools, in the jobs I’ve had here, and in volunteer work. I’ve gotten to do some cool things in the city. I’ve been able to be involved in leadership at my school. I’ve grown closer to God and seen and been involved in some amazing work of the Spirit. I’ve done a lot of things I’d have never thought I could, and I can see that I have grown in many ways. But I don’t feel different from what I was four years ago. I feel more.

I don’t think I have changed much. I think I have become more of what I already was. Sometime last year I realized that there’s a lot that I hold back, that I’m not willing to risk. A lot of things about myself I’m scared to fully be. And in the midst of wishing that I could unapologetically put my full self forward without shrinking back, this phrase came to mind: someday I’ll be all of me.

These last four years have been spent becoming stronger, more confident, and better at being me. Not only have I more fully realized and understood my passions; I’ve been able to live them. Not only have I decided what I wanted to do with my life; I’ve started to do it. Not only have I identified more of my strengths; I’ve had opportunities to use them. I’ve discovered more of who I am supposed to be, and I’ve become more of that. And now, more than ever, I believe that I will continue developing, continue discovering my gifts and how to use them, and find the right place with the right people to give those gifts to.

These last four years taught me that people make me stronger and hard things help me learn. Darkness never lasts and shadows always shift.

I’m fearful about my next transition as I leave what has been my home for the last four years and step forward into the most alone and unknown period of my life so far. But I’m also excited and thankful. Because now, more than ever, I believe I’m more than I once was, more than I thought I could be, and will be more than I am now. I’m the same me that I was four years ago, moving my things in for the first time, as I am now, moving it out for the last. In fact, I’m more of me.

And someday – someday I’ll be all of me.

Yield

I took this picture because I was loving the sunset. I didn’t even notice the sign. But when I was looking back through my photos I loved this one because of the sign, as I started considering the word. Yield means to surrender or submit. It’s something I’m being challenged to do lately, as a lot of things are out of my hands and a lot of things seem scary and unknown. But yield also means to produce or provide. And I realized the yielding in my life is a bit of a quid pro quo – one that I’ve seen over and over. When I let go of what feels safe and open up my hands and hold out the things they hold – my experiences, abilities, hopes, and efforts – I make connections with others, receive opportunities, invest in important things, and develop and grow. But my life won’t yield any of those rewards until I’ve yielded what I have to give.

Shortly before I took this picture I was walking through a field listening to my swirling thoughts and found a wistful patch of dandelions. I wished on one, and do you know what I asked for? The first word that came to mind. Life. Because I’m about to build one for myself from the ground up, and there’s so many things I’m unsure of. I don’t know what to make my foundation out of, how to design a structure that is both safe and beautiful, or what tools to use. But I do know that the yield of everything we long for comes after we yield the things we are tempted to hold onto most tightly. And then we find life. True, real, vivid life. So when I see the need in my life to yield, it’s not only a reminder to surrender what I have to give, it’s also a sign that I will soon have a life-giving harvest.

This sign is a command, but it’s also a promise.

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