learning to soar. part one.
This is a scary time. This is a difficult time. This is a time where anxiety and worry seem to overcome every other feeling. In my life personally, this has been one of the hardest seasons I have walked through in a while. And I feel oh so called to share. I have been filming a video for the past week. And I can’t seem to find the right words. I also end up in tears when I get into the depth of the story I am sharing. But I feel like there is so much to be said about vulnerability, because it may help one person out there realize that they are not alone in the things that they are battling. It may help one person feel like they belong, or that their place in this world has not been taken from them. I have so much on my heart that I want to pour into this blog post. So many words. So many feelings. If I were to write it all, we would be here for hours. So instead I am going to break this story up into parts.
We are going to use the word SOAR to work our way through my story as well as the things going on in the world. Part one is going to be titled Strength. Two will be Optimism. Three Authenticity and four Radiance.
How on earth do we soar in a world that is as chaotic as the one we are currently living in?
Great question. I pray that the Lord will speak through me and help us navigate through this season. Because my friends, we are called, created and made to soar. And together, we are going to.
I feel like this is the perfect word to start with to talk about the things that I have been going through. It is the one word that perfectly describes the outcome of the experiences and lessons my first year of college has instilled in me. It wasn’t easy though. At all.
For the past year I have been going to school at Ohio University. I have been playing college volleyball. Living thousands of miles from home. While also working to remain faithful to the calling the Lord has placed on my heart. Freshman year, in general, was a year full of growth. Tremendous growth.
Do you remember when you were younger and you went through a “growth spurt?” A lot of times your body would ache from the growth. Many people would call those pains “growing pains.” Well, this year, I was faced with a lot of growing pains.
The pains came from when my family would visit for the weekend and fly home Sunday morning. The pains came from when I didn’t play a single second during my season. The pains came from when I went to a party that resulted in tears. The pains came with the excessive amount of training involved with college sports, the pain of waking up and going to class even when your body was exhausted. I share this not to be dramatic or for any attention. I share this because I am going to take a guess and say that you might have experienced one of those pains in some way, shape or form. These pains aren’t rocket science. These pains are real. They are present. And guess what, along with you, I have had them too. I have had weeks full of anxiety, I have had weekends full of tears. I have had moments when I wish I was young again and my mom could help me do my laundry and make me dinner. I have struggled with depression while also balancing college sports.
All of these feelings and emotions are valid.
All of these examples are real.
And my friend, you are not alone.
The word “strength” has a lot of definitions. One that stood out to me is “the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure”
In college, in life in general there will be things that hit you with an impacting force. Things that may knock you to the ground. You will also be faced with pressure, loads of it.
There will be pressure to perform at the college level.
There will be pressure to work hard at every practice, every lift, even in film sessions, regardless of how you feel.
There will be pressure to drink, do drugs, sleep around.
There will be pressure to conform.
You will also have class, homework, study hall, and pressure to make the grades.
The capacity at which you are able to withstand the great force that comes from these things is pretty slim. I am sitting here being as honest with you as I can. You alone are not capable of withstanding worldly pressure. Key word in that is “alone.”
You alone are unable. That may seem harsh to those who may not know where exactly I am going with this. You alone are unable. But with God, you are able. With God all things are possible. And with God you have all you need.
When I first got to Ohio, I already had the reputation of being the “Jesus girl.” People already felt that I was going to judge them for the choices that they made. My teammates felt like they couldn’t be themselves around me because of how I chose to live my life. That is one thing that honestly broke my heart. To think that all these people think I am going to condemn them and judge them because I am a Christian was something that didn’t sit right in my heart. My teammates and friends at Ohio know now, that judging them is the last concern on my mind. They know that I love them. And that I would drop anything I was doing to be there for them in any way they needed. It took time for them to really see that I don’t walk by faith to place myself above them, I walk by faith because I struggle just like them and I need Jesus to keep me going.
Something that I don’t think anyone really saw was that I felt like I couldn’t be who I was because who I am was different than everyone else. Not in a good or bad way. I was just different. And I felt it when I got there. I wanted to fit in just like everyone else did. I never lost my faith, but I had a hard time showing it. I had a hard time being open about how I truly felt about certain topics because I didn’t want to be judged. It got to the point where I began to think every weekend was suppose to result in me feeling the way I did. I began to feel like it was okay to cry after every party. I began to feel like it was okay to be treated a certain way by guys. I got comfortable with the things that I would have never stood for before. And the thing is, I knew it too. I knew I wasn’t being fully me. I knew I was trying to fit in while still “staying true to who I am.” For months, I continued to pray when no one was watching, watch church services when no one was home, only listen to worship music when no one else was in my car, and tried my hardest to not bring up God in a conversation because I so desperately wanted to fit in. I went to parties every weekend, felt like I needed to have some sort of guy drama to make me feel pretty. I was so consumed with worldly things.
My strength didn’t come from making it through everything I wrote about above. My strength actually came after. When I owned up to it. And when I changed it. All of those lessons added to this grand and beautiful story the Lord has been writing. I walked through everything I did so that I was able to really see that no worldly desire could ever take the place of Jesus in my heart. I had to experience the things I did so I could see and really believe that if it all went away, the boys, parties, athletic success, friendships, if it all went away and all I had left was Jesus, I would be okay. I would be more than okay. I would be whole. My strength came from realizing that seeking wholeness over the world is a path much more life-bringing.
My strength grew when I realized where I was, was not where I would find wholeness. It became painful when I knew the Lord was calling me to transfer. I felt the impact of this decision greater than any decision I had ever made before. I felt pressure to stay, pressure to leave, pressure to not let my team and friends down. But with the pain, with the impact, and with the pressure, I grew. Did it hurt? Yes. Am I still healing? Yes. But do I know Jesus better than I ever have? Yes.
Sweet friends. Strength requires growth. Growth requires some pain, some pressure, great impacts that think they can take down what God has made to stand— what God has made to soar. You see these pressures and pains and impacts think that they have what it takes to take your wings. Hear me when I say this, nothing can stop what the Lord has created to soar. No party, no boy, no pressure, no impact, not even a little growing pain.
And you my friend, have been created to soar. So whatever battle you are facing right now, whatever it is that may have knocked you down, stand back up, dust yourself off, and take flight again. Because nothing in this world has the power to take away the strength the Lord has placed in you. Nothing in this world can ever stop what God has called to soar.