Think Again

If you read nothing else on this page today, I want you to read this: without Jesus in it, life is hopeless and empty, even if it doesn’t seem to be.

I got a taste of this first hand this a few months ago.

On my dad’s side of the family, I have two cousins – a brother and sister who are close in age to my brother and I. We have basically grown up together, although more recently have moved apart a little and seen one another less because of busyness.

When given the choice between a family event and a retreat for Cru, I wanted so badly to choose the latter. I would have built relationships, had intentional time with God and just have had fun. But ever since I realized that both of these events fell on the same weekend, I knew where I was supposed to be, and that was Middleton, WI, with my family.

My cousin has apparently gotten in with some bad friends, friends who encourage her to party and in turn her grades have slipped. Who knows what else she has done! She has become cold, cruel and painfully disrespectful to her family. As a recent high school graduate, she wants nothing more than to get out of the house and have the “college experience” – not taking into account that going to an out of state school will leave her in deep debt.

She’s never been much for conversation, but now things were even worse. There were so many things I wanted to say to her, but I just couldn’t find the words. Her parents obviously had a strained relationship with each other, not to mention their relationship with her.

I’m not really sure why God wanted me there instead of enjoying quality time with my Cru family. I hurt more after this weekend in May than I had for a long time. All I know is that I was there for some reason, whether or not I ever see the fruit of that.

As an outsider looking in, all I could see was how empty and broken this home was, and I felt the weight of those things too. At one point during the weekend, I cried in the bathroom; at another, I went downstairs to blindly watch my brother and other cousin play video games. I felt like more of a “broken vessel” than I could have imagined. All I could think about was how my cousin had found her worth in something that wasn’t Jesus, and how much I wished I could change that but felt helpless to do so.

By all worldly standards, my cousin was doing great. She fit in and I would describe her as popular based on the people she knows and hangs out with.

But to God? Hmm.

I’m not saying a life without Jesus in it can’t be somehow good. By some stroke of luck, one can spend their whole life never seeking the Lord and be perfectly content. For some people, its not the life struggles here that cause them to seek God, but the eternity in hell that poses a problem.

Maybe those who turn to partying and friendships that lead them astray truly are happy in life. Maybe families who are all breaking a little at the seams manage to be okay without Christ.

I wouldn’t know.

But, I do know this. Whether or not you feel like you need God, you do.

I’ve seen it time and time again, not only in my own life, but in the lives of others.

God takes lives who are lost, people who have turned to partying or substance abuse, people who have depression or anxiety, those who are questioning their identities, those who have turned to relationships and sex to fulfill them, families that are falling apart; He can take every last broken piece, even in those who don’t know their own brokenness, and make them wholly and entirely His.

 

It’s not about religion, but a relationship. And like any relationship, it takes a little work.

But its worth it.

Because we ALL need Jesus.

 

 

The photo above was taken by my friend Desmond, whose photography I now have permission to use on my posts – talented guy!

Adulting?

Guess what!

I am officially a college student of three days!

After being in the same school district for 13 years and seeing mostly the same people every single day for just as long, it is mind-blowing to be in a place where I am surrounded by different people and generally don’t know anyone in any of my classes.. The first few days of class, no one talked to each other and I was starting to feel uncomfortable and regret my college choice.

There are 26 University of Wisconsin colleges, half two year commuter colleges that transfer automatically to the larger 4 year colleges (ie. UW-Madison). I attend one of those two-year colleges. This means that I live at home and drive to school each day, rather than the traditional college experience involving dorms and food plans. When everyone in my graduating class was applying for school and planning where they wanted to go, and I decided to apply at Fox, most of the students I encountered acted like it was beneath them to attend there and live at home. When people would ask me where I was going, I began to tell them “just UW Fox .” JUST, because at that point I believed it wasn’t quite as good as one of the four year schools too, and it certainly wasn’t as impressive as heading off to some obscure private school out of state that, let’s be real, no one can afford anyway.

But I am learning day by day that UW Fox is EXACTLY where I am meant to be.

I can pay for my first two years easily without loans and only one scholarship, so joke’s on everyone else! But anyway, the point of this post isn’t to dis other schools or brag about my somewhat savvy financial planning. It’s to talk about how I believe I made the right choice and followed the Lord’s plan.

Like I said, after my final class on Wednesday still no one was really talking to one another. I get it, it is a new experience and everyone was uncomfortable, but I was feeling lonely and doubting if I would make any friends. I am a drama queen, so I kept telling myself I should have just gone to Green Bay (the school I am planning to transfer to) right away. But, I was holding on, because Wednesday after class, I had my first Cru Live. Cru is a Christian organization that exists on a lot of different campuses, and I was holding onto the fact that this would make me feel like I could make friends with other people.

There was pizza (selling point right there!) and some announcements, and then we split up into groups to share about ourselves and play ‘two Truths and a Lie’. Before we even began, the leader of our small group turned to me and asked, “Are you Mariah?”

This is a big deal for me!

I am not an outgoing person, people do not just know who I am. By confirming my identity, she made me feel so important and so comfortable. In high school I was always, someone’s friend, Chris’ sister – never just me.

I know it isn’t a big deal to most people, I get that. But I truly believe that God used her to bring me confidence in joining the group and about the school in general.

This is a new place for me. I know there will be some challenges, I know there will be some situations that are’t fun – even some that I will really hate. But I also know that through the people I will meet and through Cru, I will grow in my faith and this college experience will be about finding myself and who I am in God.