This summer feels as if it’s lasted a lifetime.
It’s not even over yet, and I’m already starting to mourn its passing. It’s funny, moving back to Pullman, entering into what should be a familiar context, has felt so natural and so unsettling at the same time. The things that I anticipated would pose challenges have been (in no surprise) challenging. But there have been other aspects of coming back to the Palouse that has tugged on my mind and heart as well.
Instead of reflecting on who I was at the beginning of the summer though, my mind has been wandering back to who I was a year ago; a girl who was running away from what she had let the world make of her. Or maybe, more accurately, I was a girl running towards something, I just didn’t know what. I was excited to join a community of Cougs, Thetas, and college students all in the same boat of entering into a new fresh start. As I promised myself I wouldn’t be the same person I was in high school, I set out to find my place and experience everything WSU and Greek life had to offer.
And what I found was happiness.
It may have been in a fairly shallow sense, but at the time it's what I knew happiness to be, I didn’t know anything deeper. This was the happiest year I had had in so long and WSU gave me so many new people and experiences I would cherish. But now I see that God was preparing something even more joyous and fulfilling in my life that I couldn't even imagine. Just as I was running towards something greater than myself, GOD was running towards ME.
I think people just want to be known. And this summer I have never felt so known or seen in my life. Living in Christian community has taught me so much. Each woman in Christ I met taught me more and more of God’s character and truth. They showed me resiliency, patience, kindness, strength in vulnerability, and love. As Elevate ended and we eventually set off for the Palouse, I found myself feeling very “meh” about going back to school though.
The excitement I had to leave behind my hometown in trade for Coug games, decorating my dorm, and running around Greek row was gone. I was surprised to realize I didn’t find joy in the same things anymore. Instead, it felt as if I was leaving behind more things than the Palouse had to offer. I was leaving behind coming home to friends that would always point me to Christ. I was leaving behind moments like singing along to OT on our short, 10 min drive to the beach to reach the people of San Diego. I was leaving behind setting up for church in a little white building, praising God surrounded by 50 familiar faces. I was leaving behind huddling together around a bonfire on the beach singing praises to God.
In other words, the things that I thought could bring me so much joy and fulfillment seemed so much more empty now because I had, for the first time, experienced true joy.
I looked around as people became so excited for everything that another year at WSU brings and I couldn’t bring myself to find the same excitement. I missed La Jolla, I missed living in a Christian community, and I missed the California sun.
But the same God I served this summer in California is the same God I serve in Pullman. The same joy that filled me each time we gathered in His name and learned more of who God is, is the same joy that is within me now as we instead meet as a church in an auditorium on campus (after all, the Church is made up of a people, not a building).
How great is it that the joy I was scared to leave behind in California is always within me? How amazing is it that God gives us His spirit with all joy in praising his name, no matter where we are.
I guess what I came to realize in recognizing that I felt as if I had lost something (the excitement I held towards going back to the Palouse) is that I had gained so much more in Christ. I guess I was just shocked to come face to face with my transformation this summer in a way I didn't expect. That in my heart I know the things and pleasures of this world are incomparable to the life we are meant to live in Christ. In Him, we can find our joy.
I think in this field, the warm sun beating down on me, God was reminding me the sun that sets on La Jolla Shores is the same sun that rises upon the wheat fields in the Palouse. Just as His grace and power and holiness are the same in all the earth. Just as His spirit has carried me through summer, His spirit will carry me through winter.
I am sure God is working through his children in the Palouse, and I am so so ready for this wild ride he is about to take us on. He is preparing something more significant than I could ever imagine. It’s so comforting to know that no matter what I can place my joy in Him to carry me though.
So today, I am thankful for these fleeting summer suns, I’m grateful for a Christian community that I have kept and continue to find in the Palouse, and above all else, I am thankful to serve a God that is constant and loving and good.
I’m learning to accept this new season of my life with open arms. I can't wait to see Gods work in the Palouse this year, and allow the Lord's strength and spirit to continue to fill me and use me to continue His Mission where he has placed me. God is SO beautiful and powerful and HOLY. I can't wait to share this newfound joy and salvation I found and have in Him with those at WSU and on Greek Row. As always, God is on the move!