One year ago I was driving away from Fayetteville, having no idea what the next year of my life would hold.
So much has happened in a year, it exhausts me to think of it. I don’t know the me that walked in my place just a short 365 days ago because I am a completely new and different person. I didn’t know that when I got on January 9th, when I got on a plane flight destined to San Diego, that that would be the end of all that I had ever known. How sweet is it now to look back and reminisce on the joy and the sorrow and the heartbreak and the dancing and the laughing and the wonderful chaotic disaster that Kony2012 and my semester with Invisible Children was. It’s humbling and really laughable to think of the three months I spent in a van with Team Midwest and the 119 days I spent as full-time volunteer. My mind immediately flashes to the moment we heard Kony2012 hit one million views and we drove into the sunset listening to Kanye West in Green Bay, WI. Or when Hayley walked into the basement of the roadie house and yelled, “where my people at?!” as Saul, Abbey, and I engulfed our team leader for the first time. I think of driving away from Libertyville High School and getting the call that Jason had a melt down and the times when we thought we had conquered the world and the others when we couldn’t force our eyes to open because of the tears. I won’t ever forget when I heard Oyella Jane tell all of the roadies on Mount Soledad to take heart because we were going to change the world. What if I had believed her at the time? What if I had believed Jedidiah Jenkins when he told me and 600 other desperate kids, “the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who can.”? If I had believed them, would it had changed me so much when I woke up one morning and realized we had changed the world?
So much happened in those short and beautiful five months. And so much has happened since.
Little did I know that the greatest change in me would come when I got back to Little Rock, after the greatest adventure of my life, and picked up the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time. I had no clue that in the short nine days it took me to read of the creation, journeys, triumphs, failures, and destruction of Narnia, I would watch my myself go through the same process. How faithful is the Lord? When we question and when we doubt, He keeps His arms open.
For the summer months after I got home from San Diego and on the heels of Narnia, I let bitterness and anger tear at me every day. I have been confused about injustice for years and I feel like I haven’t been ignorantly accepting Christian reasons for evil without really searching in myself first, but this summer it overran me. To let sorrow embrace your heart can be good thing, but only when its close companion, joy, accompanies it. But without refreshing joy, sorrow crippled us and for months it did just that in me.
In August I moved back to Fayetteville and I joined in with the five guys I live with on a week long trip to Montana before school started back up. Montana is a long trip away from Fayetteville to say the least and I had the privilege of driving the night shift on the way up. So in the middle of Wyoming with my friends around me asleep and music playing at 4 in the morning, I let Jesus know of my frustration. I don’t know why it took me so long to ask Jesus the questions I had, instead of just writing about them and complaining about injustice and all to my friends and family. I literally yelled and cursed and cried and let my anger burn within me. After about twenty minutes or so, I breathed deeply and I really believe the Lord put an answer on my heart. I wish with all that I am that I could say I heard Him tangibly say this to me, but in some ways I feel like the Spirit gently (and often violently) whispering in my openings of my soul, can be just as effective in my life than if I were to hear the audible voice of God. I don’t know why evil exists and I don’t know why injustice runs rampant but I do believe with all that I am that Jesus is real. And if Jesus is real, if He is at this moment who He said He was when He walked with His disciples, then I can trust Him. Since that moment, I have had supernatural peace about it all. I still have so many questions and am not okay with how things are in the world or with the Church, but I have true and undeniable peace. I thought it was only going to be a momentary thing but here I am, five months later with that same peace conquering my every life.
This semester in Fayetteville has been a whirlwind of grace, love, and miracles to say the least. Just as words fail me to describe my incredible semester with Invisible Children, so they do with these last many months as well. But I can’t help but laugh out loud as I remember coming back from Montana with a new view on walking in Love and what has happened since. I am honored to see Jesus move in worship every Monday nights as hundreds of students have come and sought the Lord alongside us in raw and real community. I praise Jesus for seeing salvation and discipleship and healing reign on our campus. I praise Him for allowing me to experience the Church in a fullness that I have never before been able to see and how He has started the healing process in me with loving His bride. The adventures in Mountainburg and White Rock and Kansas City and all the beautiful nights that Jesus has taken me to places I didn’t ever think I could ever go.
And how gracious Jesus was to let this year all come to a head in Washington DC for Invisible Children’s event, MOVEDC. I went for a four day adventure to rally for the human soul alongside of my IC family and my Fayetteville family.
I am glad that 2012 is almost over. Changes will always happen in life, but I pray for mercy that every year does not hold as much dramatic change as this year did for me. But truly, my friends, whatever the Lord’s lot for me, I will take. I am not guaranteed tomorrow or 2013, but I do know that as long as I live I will love Jesus and love people. Through every question and hurt and curse and dance, I will continue to run to the mountains because I believe I will fall into His arms at the end.
I know this: If Jesus is not who He said He was, I am to be the most pitied because all I am now , all I have been, and all I will be is for Him and in Him. But I also know that the Spirit has used 2012 to destroy me and make me and no matter how hard I tried earlier this summer to deny Jesus, I found myself on my knees saying, “Hallelujah”.
“If I say, ‘I will not mention Him, or speak any more in His Name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.”
- Jeremiah 20:9