Category: Faith

Breakups, The Greatest Love, & Healthy vs. Unhealthy Ways to Cope with Painful Emotions

Heartbreak: It’s a killer. If you’ve experienced a breakup before, you’re familiar with the emotional, mental, and physical toll it takes on us. Whether it’s the end of a friendship, a dating relationship, or a marriage, the breakup and grieving process can come with intense pain.

A few months ago, I went through a breakup.

Feelings of loss and insecurity especially bothered me at first. These are some of my specifically “triggering” emotions, causing me to think thoughts that made me vulnerable to my struggles. To be honest with you, in my initial moments of weakness, I didn’t choose to use healthy coping tools. I wanted to isolate myself at home, I didn’t reach out to many people, and I even found myself returning to old eating disorder behaviors…

The one healthy thing that I did choose to do was pray for guidance and healing. But even though I was asking God to help me, I still turned inward and turned to my body for security. 

At the gym I tried to make myself feel better. But rather than inflate my self-esteem, I  ended up with the same deflated heart. 

I was trying to console myself on my own – trying to feel “good enough” and “lovable” without leaning on any other person. Despite my rebellion, God swooped in and reminded me that I already am worthy; and that he loves me enough to pursue me.

God pursued me. 

Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he saves those whose spirits are crushed.”

Psalm 121:2 “He heals the brokenhearted.”

The day after the breakup, I felt this gentle nudge on my heart that I should go to an event at church. Surprisingly, I decided to emerge from my cave of grief that evening. I didn’t try to hide my melancholy mood at church, but I didn’t go seeking sympathy, attention, or connection.

However, while I was there, three people came to me and initiated some very special and unexpected conversations. They were people who I wouldn’t necessarily go to for help; yet I received love, validation, hugs, and words of encouragement from them. When I went to bed that night, my heart was full; and I remembered that I’m worthy of love. 

I really felt like God was using his people – the church family – to speak truth and show his love to me when I needed it most. 

The next day, I turned to some of my not-so-helpful “coping tools” again. But God’s love proved stronger than my rebellion. Again, he pursued me through his people. While I was at home, three different people sent me texts saying things like, “Hey Jess, I was just thinking about you,” “How are you?”, “Can we talk soon?”, and “Let’s set up a time to hang out!” 

As much as I wanted to isolate myself during my time of insecurity, people were coming to me, pulling me out of my pity, showing me that I was worth their time and connection, and loving me at the right time.

Those connections, and the words of encouragement that followed, quickly began to build me up. People supported me. They inadvertently made me realize that I didn’t need to be so insecure or question my value. It’s cool to me that those friends reached out to me, not knowing what I had been feeling. I truly think this was an act of God.

Psalm 94:18-19 “Your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

What’s even cooler is that this pattern continued for the next few days: I would turn to my Eating Disorder, but then I would connect with someone; they would encourage me; and I would momentarily snap out of my mental turmoil. 

To end that week, God reminded me of my value in an even more unique and powerful way. I attended my friend’s baptism service. Seeing my friend joyfully and publicly display how Jesus had transformed his life filled my heart with happiness. But what made the moment even sweeter was remembering that I was the one who introduced him to Jesus Christ. 

As I sat there, I could hear God saying to me, “Jessica, not only are you worthy and loved by me and by others, but you have the ability to change people’s lives! The most important thing about you is not your body or what others think about you – it’s that you can draw people into my Kingdom. 

Right then I started to tear up, and I felt the weight of all my insecurities fall off my shoulders. 

There’s two things I’d love for you to take away from this story:

1.) God loves us enough to pursue us! His love is stronger than our rebellion. He can draw near to us in our heartbreak, loneliness, and feelings of inadequacy, and remind us that we’re made whole and complete in him. And I think sometimes he specifically uses his people to clearly and audibly speak the truths that we need to hear.

I love that when God chases after us, we get to remember that we’re cared for and seen by our heavenly Father; and we learn that it’s okay to rely on him when we feel weak. Like these verses say:

2 Corinthians 1:4-5, 9 “[God] comforts us in all our troubles. . .our comfort abounds through Christ. . .that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.”

2.)  The other point that I want to stress is this:

The coping tools that I turned to (my eating disorder and isolation) did not cure my insecurities.

I think that a lot of us turn to self-destructive or unhelpful things when we’re insecure, lonely, heartbroken, etc. And those with eating disordered or introverted tendencies especially turn to our bodies or isolation when we feel insecure. But I found that what really made me feel better was connecting with people. Connection paired with a little bit of vulnerability created the opportunity for so much encouragement and healing! 

In Paul’s letter to the Romans in chapter 13, he urged the Christians not to “think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” I won’t go into full Bible student mode to explain what this means; but I know that turning to my body for feelings of control and security would qualify as a fleshly desire. Paul advised them instead to “clothe” themselves with Jesus and to fight their battles with “the armor of light.” I love this! To me it reaffirms that Jesus is the key to getting through external pressures and trials and to overcoming internal conflicts as well.

So my friend, I want to remind you that you are valuable and loved. If God would pursue me, I know he would easily come after you too! He wants to be the source of your security and for you to feel whole and complete, because you’re his child. the Bible says clearly that nothing can separate us from his love, and that he’s close to the brokenhearted. He wants to hold our hand through the trials of life and for us to depend on his fatherly affection rather than trying to do everything and feel good enough on our own strength.

Comments and questions are welcomed! Have a nice week!

 

More Than I Imagined

This post was originally published on wakingupjess@wordpress.com on January 7, 2017. 

“Lord, I am so tired of being afraid of the future. I know that I’m not walking in the truth, and my anxiety is holding me back from experiencing full joy and pursuit of my dreams. . .Please, I just need you to bring me security and then some joy and a little excitement in my life. . .I don’t know…I just want to feel more at peace and secure. Please help me, God. Amen.”

A prayer written by me,  January 2016

I found the above prayer in my prayer journal. Evidently, I was having a hard time and feeling devoid of security, joy, and peace. The month previous was when I was so terrified for my health that I got onto anxiety medication.

The beginning of 2016 was simply the middle of a difficult transition, and I was feeling a lack of direction for my life. I pictured another 12 months just as hard as 2015.

But, little did I know, I was about to have the most transformational and rewarding year ever! 2016 ended up being the year that I learned the most about myself and became determined to fight harder than ever!

Now, let me be clear that without my faith in him, I would have only sunk deeper into the pits of fear, disordered eating, insecurity, selfishness, apathy, and isolation. I know this because my belief in God was my main motivator in any and all efforts to get better.

My motivation is the fact that I believe He created me for a purpose and has greater plans for my future. And those plans do not include bondage to self-destructive behaviors and thoughts.

Through my consistent asking of God for help and a perfectly orchestrated set of events, God did more than I could have ever imagined.

He nudged me; He made me feel strong moments of conviction that broke me down when I needed to make a change; And He used specific people to say the exact words I needed to hear. And I believe that he even lead me to the scriptures that I needed to read, when I asked him to. There are some events that I give God all the credit for, because the timing was just too perfect. There is no way I could have planned each little (or big) moment of impact so divinely. It was purely the Lord’s doing.

Because of this, I’ve really been loving this scripture in Ephesians that says:

“How long and wide and deep and high is the love of Christ. . .Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be all the glory. . .for ever and ever! Amen.” – 3:20-21

Seriously, I’m blown away at his work in my life!

I compiled a list of positive events and significant changes that all happened within 2016:

  • I started this blog!
  • I went 10 whole moths without any major panic attacks. (WOO!)
  • I visited Biola University, and realized that I actually DO want to go to college!
  • I got accepted to Biola!
  • I shared my testimony with my entire highschool youth group (scary, but worth it!)
  • My anxiety gradually decreased, and I learned how to handle it better.
  • I reached two major clinical health goals!
  • I turned 18, graduated high school, and started my summer job all in the same month!
  • I worked as a middle school leader and went to summer camp with the youth group.
  • I shared the gospel with 3 people and helped lead 2 to Christ. (YAY)
  • My relationship with exercise turned healthy.
  • I started college.
  • I went on real dates with real boys 😉  (I don’t think I could have healthily done this last year.)
  • I found direction for life, felt new passions, and felt joyful.
  • I got asked to be a bridesmaid! AND
  • I made a scary but life-changing decision for my overall health that has been TOTALLY worth it! (I’ll share more about this one later).

It doesn’t hurt that I also made it to Disneyland twice, saw a couple celebrities, and made some friends 🙂

These blessings came at a price though. I had to fight hard. I had to wait patiently, keep going to church, seek the Lord for strength, cry, endure a lot of discomfort, ask people for help, and always ask God for direction. But now I can see that it was all worth it. I can see now that he did hear my prayer in January; and he had good things in store.

Yes, fighting was worth it; and God ended up doing “immeasurably more than I asked or imagined.” And this is my hope for 2017! I’m expecting Him to continually show up and to be on my team. He has never left my side, and He’s not going to now.

God can move mountains in your life as well! He will bless you in incredible ways if you  have an active relationship with Him, ask Him for help, and have a willing heart. Then wait expectantly with faith.

We’re Just Not That Smart

This post was originally published on wakingupjess@wordpress.com on August 4, 2016. 

If there’s one thing I’ve discovered in my life, it’s that God’s plans are far better than mine and that he deserves my trust. Because if I really evaluate what my life was like in times where I acted in independence from him – verses times of asking for his help – I can clearly see how much more I flourished when I acknowledged him.

But I have to be reminded of this fact constantly…

Like at the beginning of this summer: I was struggling with insecurity and fear, and I was running to old habits to sooth those feelings of emptiness. But thankfully, the Holy Spirit impressed two specific verses on me at the right time; and they’ve made a huge impact on my life since then. They’re Proverbs 3:5-6:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

When I read this verse, I always kind of think, “Man, this is a lot to ask! Trust him with ALL my heart and in ALL my ways?…” It really is a pretty heavy demand.

I think it’s easy for us to get distracted by the demand of the first part without considering the sweet promise of the second part. God promises that if we submit to him, he will eventually “make our paths straight.” In other words, he’ll bless us by leading us on the right course for our best possible future. That’s a pretty sweet deal!

Now, in order to obtain the map to those “straight paths,” we still have the challenge of, “leaning not on our own understanding.”This is difficult! I don’t know about you, but personally, I make a lot of decisions based on how I feel, what I’ve observed, and what I think to be true (a.k.a. my understanding). I definitely try to be wise, and I know that I often can be. But I also know that the seasons of life where I suffer the most are because I’m momentarily  NOT “acknowledging” the Lord.

For example, my eating disorder stemmed from believing the ideas of, “I’m not good enough, pretty enough, or athletic enough.” – Do you think those statements were from the Lord or from faulty lies built up in my mind? I think they were very untrue…

When I evaluate some other ideas I once believed, I can see how many ended up being untrue! They were not scripturally based truth, rather they were my own “understanding.”

  • For instance, I used to think there was no way I could handle going to college, so I told myself that I didn’t want to anyway.
  • I thought I’d be stuck with anxiety and panic attacks forever.
  • I thought I could not be a good small group leader to middle school girls.
  • I thought I would always hate my job.
  • I thought I would always hate traveling.
  • I thought my body would never heal or be able to reach my health goals.
  • I thought my friendships would stay the same for a long time.
  • AND, I thought I could not write a successful and interesting blog…

The theme running throughout this list is that I was listening to doubt, insecurity, and the world’s opinions instead of believing in the truth of scripture. BUT, through trusting God, I have dismantled all of those lies and allowed him to change my heart and mind.

I see now how utterly wrong my thinking can be when I’m not inviting God into my decisions.

So, in closing, what does it look like to practically “acknowledge” the Lord? Well, as I’ve practiced it, I’ve seen that it’s not extrememly hard.

When I’m feeling discouraged about my day, I try to see the positives and view it as a growing opportunity instead. I invite the Lord to teach me. When I’m feeling afraid of the future, I take a moment to reflect on all that God has already brought me through. When I feel unattractive, I have to tell myself that my appearance is not highly important. When I’m upset with or hurt by someone, praying for them is a quick way to soften my attitude. When I don’t get what I want, I can thank God for what I do have and trust that he’ll provide me with future blessings.

Honestly, sometimes all I have to do is take a deep breath and say “Jesus I trust you” under my breath (even if it feels forced).

I believe that if we can work on evaluating our thoughts and dismantling those lies that cause roadblocks, we can focus on and place our complete trust in God so easily. It’s just a matter of practicing those truths and having a perspective that’s wider than our own. Inviting God’s truth to drown out the lies so that we can trust him to guide our lives.

What I’ve been up to: June, 2016

This post was originally published on wakingupjess@wordpress.com on July 21, 2016. My first post as a high school graduate!

It’s been a little while since I’ve blogged, and so much life has happened since then! I’m now graduated and already thinking about the college chapter of my life. BUT, I try not to live in the future too much; So let me catch you up on just the highlights of the first month of my summer. I’ve been doing and learning a lot.

Graduation Day

I vividly remember an important moment from that day. It happened in my thoughts, but it was pivotal.  As I was sitting in the pew, waiting for my turn to go on stage, I completely zoned out and suddenly everything going on became quiet to me.

img_8806

 

I started thinking about the independence I was going to gain from then on. My future looked unknown, big, intimidating, exciting, and everything else. The gravity of the fact that I was going to start making a lot of big decisions for myself became very heavy. I also realized that without a youth group to go to, It’s really going to be my own choice whether or not to live for Jesus and go to church in my adult years…I thought about how I’m living for something (someone) much bigger than myself. I processed these thoughts for a few minutes and then snapped out of my daze. Ever since then, I’ve thought about the future in a new, more serious way.

I’ve had a lot of joy since then, though! I felt immensely blessed by the love and support i received that day. Thankfulness and a full heart is how I would sum up June 4th. It started my summer on a wonderfully high note!

img_8776

img_8779

Work

A lot of my days have been spent working back at the old Forest…In case you don’t know, I work at Enchanted Forest Theme Park. It has been rough at times, and here’s why:

It can be an incredibly, physically demanding job some days. Other days, I just sit in a gift shop for 8 hours and have way too much time to contemplate life. I sit there, bored, and try to see Jesus in my day. He usually seems hidden when I’m there, and I don’t like it. My co-workers often make me sad, and I struggle to find joy in a place surrounded by fake smiles. I’ve had to figure out what to do when I witness someone lacking integrity…It’s just a very different atmosphere than anything I’ve experienced, and it has tested me in several ways. But the bright side is that it causes me to cling to the word of God.

Senior Retreat

I got to go to Sunriver Resort for a few days with 17 other just-graduated seniors from my church. I feel like this was a turning point in my life. Before the trip I sensed God was about to do something in my life, and I was waiting with expectation. In our devotional one morning, we were focussing on Proverbs 3:5-6.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

I will spare all the details of how exactly God spoke to me, but this passage had a huge and lasting impact on me. I have read Proverbs 3 almost every day since then, and I just love those two verses the most. I really trust the Lord and his timing now, and I know he is wanting to remind me every day to acknowledge HIM over my own understanding. He says He will make my paths (my future) straight, and I want to accept that blessing from Him!

Also, I got to spend irreplaceable time with my peers, my wonderful mentor, and her adorable baby for those few days. I soaked in the love, advice, encouragement, and laughter and was reminded how filling it is to be with my church family.

John’s Homecoming

Straight up – I’m just real happy my brother
is back from college

 

I get a feeling of normalcy in my life when he’s here. He is my best friend, and I have been so much happier since he got home. Not only that, but we’re focussing on being each other’s best friend and spending intentional time together as much as possible. We have talks about life, we have been catching up, and he has lifted me up with affirmation.

Middle School Camp (Adventure Camp)

Yesterday I returned from 5 long days of serving as a leader of middle school girls. It being my first time as a camp leader, the experience was all new. I would describe it as hot, fun, tiring, annoying, challenging, hilarious, and rewarding. Being in ministry is like nothing else, I tell ya. Being away from cell service for that long allowed me to really be present and listen for God’s directing. Each day I grew closer with 7 young girls. They asked me questions constantly. They cried. They splashed me. They nagged me. They surprised me. They drove me crazy. And most of all, they blessed me.

Initially, I was afraid to go with the flow of the schedule and live in the present (due to my anxiety and desire to plan and be in control). But somehow, I ended up being okay. I surprised myself with how well I adapted. I actually found enough rest in the crazy scheduled week and 6 hour night sleeps. I was refreshed enough by the support of the people I was around and the reward of being there to help my students. I also remembered the passage in Proverbs 3 to “acknowledge him” in ALL my ways. I think what I really needed, whether I knew it or not, was time to be selfless and usable by God. I feel so healthy and free after several days of serving like that, and it’s going to challenge my normal way of living.

Anyways, there’s a whole lot more I could say about camp, but I’ll leave it at that. If you actually read all the way to the end, I’m very impressed. 😉 Thanks for reading! I hope you can be encouraged to acknowledge the Lord and let him lead you on straight paths as I have been.

The Key to Security

This post was originally published on wakingupjess@wordpress.com on April 15, 2016. It’s one of my personal favorites to go back and read. 

We live in a culture that is screaming at us to change and be better. It’s a society of comparisons and messages of self-improvement. We spend so much time buying into the lies of the media; but how can we avoid them when they surround us? People – even those who truly care about us – can also make us feel inferior sometimes. It’s so sad, and it can feel like we’re never good enough. I know I have felt that way for years. Insecure and incomplete…

When we’re told on tv and media to “buy this!” and “eat this!” and when we’re seeing ads about dieting and exercise equipment, it’s hard not to feel like we’re missing something that could make us happier. Or when we simply view someone else’s life from afar, it can make us feel like less. Their body, their job, their apparent happiness, or their ideal relationship must be the key to happiness, right?

I finally discovered the solution to this battle with insecurity, and it’s not something we can buy or change. It’s something we have to believe and choose to live out. (It really only applies to followers of Jesus Christ; but if you don’t have a relationship with Him, I hope this makes you want what I have!) The solution is in Ephesians 2:8. It may not seem relevant to what I’m talking about, but I promise it is. Bear with me! It says:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”

Let me dissect this verse for you:

By grace: We can never meet God’s requirements for righteousness; and even though he knows that, he still sent his son to pay the price for our sins. Righteousness and salvation is not something we can earn. That’s why grace is so important here. (Keep reading please. It’s gonna get even better.)

We have been saved: What have we been saved from? We, as Christians, know that we’re saved from hell. Yes, that’s obvious. But he didn’t just send his son in order to keep us out of hell. No, there’s something deeper that I discovered here. The word “saved” comes from the Greek word “sozo,” Which literally means…(are you ready for this?) “To be made whole in our body, soul, and spirit.”

Jesus died to make us whole: Whole means complete!

And the last part of the verse, “through faith,” simply means to believe. So, putting the verse all together means: When you can truly believe that righteousness in Christ is a gift from God, you will be made whole in your body soul and spirit!

When I learned this, I felt like I had found the cure to an ongoing sickness that I’ve carried for years! Because the Holy Spirit fills my heart, I am made whole. And that dispels all reason for me to feel insecure.

Walking in this truth is slowly changing me into a more joyful, confident version of myself; and I’m finding my temptations have less of a hold on me, too.

So now I understand this truth. But it’s still impossible to feel that way every second of the day! I’ve had to make conscious decisions to combat all the negativity causing me to feel insecure. Here are a few of them that are helping me.

  1. The first thing I’ve done is write “I am made whole” in a spot in my room that I see every day. The statement helps me to remember my identity in Christ.
  2. I’ve also decided I will not spend time with people who repeatedly make me feel like less than I am. I’ve had to find a balance here. But to the people who make me feel insecure and leave me with a feeling of emptiness rather than joy – I just have to say no.
  3. I’ve decided to be done with Snapchat…This is a very personal decision, and I don’t condemn the app. But I do know that it was making me sad to see everyone else’s fun. And more importantly, I was getting a false sense of security by deceiving others into thinking my life is more exciting than it really is. I also know that I often put my “best face” in front of the camera in order to feel good about the image I was putting out there. All of this was causing me to rely on something other than God to feel good, so I got rid of it.
  4. I’ve decided to embrace the things I love, whether people will judge me or not. Deciding to be okay with who I am has given me so much freedom.
  5. I’ve decided that what’s “inside” me is more important than the external. I used to think that being skinny would make me good enough. People’s affirmation of my image was really important to me. But now that I know that I’m made whole in my body, I don’t need to believe that lie anymore. And boy is that freeing…I love it so much more when people encourage my character rather than my beauty! Hearing that I’m wise, kind, helpful, godly, or anything like that makes me feel 100 times more worthy!

I can’t really prevent myself from being surrounded by media, but all the other steps I’ve taken have been immensely helpful. I’m not relying on people, possessions, and image to fill the voids in my heart. It’s a constant struggle and effort every day, but I’m trying! I want to encourage you to evaluate yourself too, and ask yourself this: Do I truly believe I’ve been made whole? Where am I getting my security?

Everyday Struggles

This post was originally published on wakingupjess@wordpress.com on March 15, 2016. 

Today I’ve been reflecting on what has happened in this month of March so far. We’re only two weeks into it, yet I have already struggled so much more than I expected to…

As of right now, everything is okay. I feel like I’m in the calm after a small storm. You see, nothing neccesarily “huge” has really happened to me at once; but so many moments of hardship have come my way. Moments of temptation, insecurity, grief, fear, and doubt.

This was not what I anticipated! On March 1st, I wrote in my journal, “Every month has been getting better and better! I can’t wait to see how March goes!” I was truly excited for this month because I expected it to be easier and to entail a lot more smoothness, positivity, and growth. The past three months in particular have strengthened, matured, and grown me immensly. But in reality, life is not easy. And sometimes we stumble and fall in the process of climbing upward.

I’ll be more specific about what I’ve been dealing with. In short, I feel that the enemy has played on every single one of my weaknesses and insecurities. He knows what they are, and he can devise plans to attempt to bring me down. Here are some of them:

One area I tend to get insecure in is in my relationships. And a few of my current friendships have been suffering lately. That causes me to stress out and feel a whole lot of negative emotions…I’ve been grieving and trying to walk through this with the Lord, but my insecurity has won over me at times.

Along with that, I have felt discontent with my body again and struggled with old temptations. I sometimes listen to the lies of, “you’re not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough…”

Last week my fear and anxiety came back in full effect: A very discouraging day brought me to crippling anxiety and the worst stomach ache I can remember.

I’ve even doubted my significance in the middle school youth group I serve at.

BUT, (yes there’s always a silver lining) here’s what I know:

Psalm 37:23-24 says, “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he will fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.”

I LOVE this. The psalmist is acknowledging the inevitability for God’s children to “fall” (or sin/face temptations). And despite our mess up’s, we are never too far gone. We don’t fall so far down that we have to “re-start” or be brought out of a pit. As a child of God, I’m in a good position to pick myself up and start climbing again.

So, this month has not gone the way I expected. But that’s okay because I’m learning to pick myself up. I’m trying to live the abundant life that God desires for me. These weeks have felt messy, but there’s still beauty in this life. There’s still joy to be found! There are still blessings sprinkled throughout my days; but maybe I just need to search a little harder to see them. God is still good. He still loves me. He will use these trials to teach me. And I don’t have to be owned by my sin or insecurity. (Neither do you.)

Passionfruit Doughnut

This post was originally published on wakingupjess@wordpress.com on February 27, 2016. I had just decided that I actually wanted to go to college. After this post was originally published, I dreamed about Biola for 2 years while doing my time at community college. By the time you’re reading this, I’m either weeks away from getting there, or I’m finally there!

If you want to understand the obscure title I chose for this post, you’ll have to bear with me till the end!

SO. I’m going to give you something a little more lighthearted this time.

A few months ago my mom asked me if I’d be interested in going on a visit to Biola University, my brother’s school. I didn’t really care much for the idea at first because:

  1. I’ve never seen myself as someone to move out of state or even go to college. (Mostly because I haven’t had a clear vision of what I want to do in the future, career-wise.) And
  2.  The idea of considering colleges has been daunting and anxiety inducing in the past. So, I didn’t particularly want to go to Biola, but I thought, “Hey, I can hang out in the sunshine with my brother and go to Disneyland for a day.” So I let my mom sign me up.

Tiny back story: For a long time I have been resolved to the idea of going to community college and figuring the rest out somewhere along the way. It seems like the easiest plan. I wish I had a more passionate spirit like some people. My brother, for instance, is one of my biggest role models because of how passionate he is, how he works hard, and chases his dreams. But I haven’t felt very passionate about what I can accomplish in life.

So, as I prepared for Biola Bound, I was feeling unsettled about a lot. I prayed over the trip for weeks in advance. Specifically that I would not have panic attacks, that God would provide me with energy, that I would be joyful and confident in meeting new people, and that God would just reveal something to me while I was there.

The trip started off tricky because I had severe panic on the airplane. But I prayed myself through it. The rest of the night was a blast! The next day I met high school seniors and Biola students from all over the U.S. Though everyone’s cultural backgrounds were diverse, it seemed like the one thing everyone had in common was a love for God. (Biola is one of the biggest Bible Institutes in the country). I don’t even really know how to explain it, but I could FEEL the presence of the Holy Spirit over that campus. And the joy of the Lord was inside so many people I met. My joy increased quickly. I loved being immersed in that positive environment, and I felt comfortable. My normal insecurities seemed to vanish!

fullsizeoutput_cb

As hours and days ticked away, I noticed all my prayers about panic and having energy and joy being answered. I was having such a good time (and Disneyland was only a sliver of the fun). My mind was clear, and my focus began to shift: I found my apathy towards college disappearing, and I realized I really loved everything about this school. – The weather, the campus, the people, the feeling of Christ-centered community, and mostly how God is elevated above everything that happens there. On day three I was feeling stronger about it.

I had a nice long hour to talk with a communications professor over lunch on Monday. During my chat with her was when It finally sunk in that it could actually be a possibility for me to attend the school some day. And that I now had a dream school. After going to a business class, Bible class, and a communications class; I was sold.

I could hardly contain myself when I ran across campus to John’s dorm that evening. I sat there with my hands on my head because I couldn’t even believe I was telling him, “I want to go here some day…” Could this be the answer to my last prayer? Was this what God was wanting to reveal to me?

I’m confident that If he wants me at Biola, I will get there. Regardless of what happens, I’m thankful for the experience and that he changed my heart toward college. I have honestly never felt so strongly about something in this way…I did not want to go home.

The experience as a whole reflects this AMAZING doughnut I sampled during my trip. When I bit into it, I didn’t know what flavor it was. It tasted like…lemon? But then I kept chewing, and my taste buds danced! There was a curd filling on the inside accompanied by something crunchy AND a whipped cream on top. It was perfect. John read a sign and said, “No, it’s not lemon. It’s passionfruit flavored!” For some reason this excited us both immensely. It wasn’t what we were expecting. That intricate doughnut was just like my trip: I went into it with narrow thinking. “This will be a typical doughnut. Whatever.” Or, “It’s a scary college. I don’t want to go to college.” But the more I experienced and learned about the different aspects, my eyes were opened, I got excited, and I left wanting more! And how appropriate that the flavor was PASSIONfruit, and I gained a new passion and vision for my future. 😉

Thanks for reading!