This blog began as my college experience did, with excitement and rose-coloured glasses. At least, they told me the glasses were rose-coloured – people reassured me it wouldn’t always look so sweet. And I waited to feel it. I posted whimsical pictures of my room and my food and I wrote excited squealy posts about Sydney and I waited for the lustre to fade. And while there is no doubt that the tone of these pink pages has become more serious, you should know that this pink-clad girl still gets pretty giddy about being here.
This is true despite the days you don’t imagine when you sign up. See, there are classes full of profound discovery, chapel sermons that deeply convict and comfort, coffees drunk in the company of laughing friends and afternoons where you tick multiple checkboxes on your do list. These are the ones you plaster across social media, prompting people to comment on your summer-camp life. There are sweet times with Jesus, alone in the early morning, in the middle of painful group translation, times when you sing out with joy or can’t hold the tears because he chose unworthy you. Me.
But maybe you don’t expect today. The mornings when you are thankful for how long it’s taking for your alarm to ring, only to discover it has been ringing on volume level 1 for 90 minutes, and you’ve slept through class. Days where you get into a discussion at lunch with friends you profoundly love yet disagree with, but it’s cut short through interruption and you are embarrassingly graceless about it. Afternoons where you get toll notices in the mail and make 7 phone-calls to figure out why your e-tag doesn’t work, and one of the customer service people tells you about their recent holiday and all you can think is how your afternoon is swallowed up in ephemera, and you are no closer to knowing how to do text criticism for your exam next week. Sometimes there are days like this where I feel behind the whole time, where my sin roars and my head pounds and I can’t think of words to describe it except off. And I have to tell you, not one iota of this is owed to a lustre-loss.
It would be so much easier to blame college at this point. As though communal living, or high expectations or rules or doctrine are somehow responsible for my sleep-in induced funk. That is the temptation, every day. That others or institutions are to blame. Instead of the truth that others and institutions show me for what I am. How this precious, fleeting college life shows me for what I am. It makes for hard viewing.
Towards the beginning of last year, a sermon was preached at chapel on John 15, in which points 1-3 were the same “without Jesus you can do nothing”. I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear it then. But, because I did not learn, not only then. Today, forever. My life is full of these cycles of trying to keep all of the plates spinning, which end as one too many smash around me and I throw myself at my Saviours feet. I know, first, what I need, but I go there last, when I am exhausted and messy. Crazy, stupid sheep. Foolish, foolish girl. When will I ever learn that I can’t do this on my own?
And as sweet as the sweet days are, it is for days like today that I am thankful. Because at the end of myself, there He is. When my wisdom and righteousness are held out, seen for the raggy offerings they are, He is wisdom and righteousness for me. He is the Saviour my sin necessitated, he is the freedom my soul was unchained by, he is the love I love, because I was loved first.
And so I am crazy about this place, tennis balls sailing through my window at lunchtime, newly discovered coffee-frappes, arms laden with library books. I am crazy about my life, the staggering blessing of the here and now. That sermon ended with the promise that we are never without Jesus. This sweet place sees fit over and over to remind me that, in class and in the act of doing life together. Here I am not allowed to play at captain of my own ship. Here life is still rosy, 3 years later, even when I am not.
“O teach me what it means, for I am full of sin.
And grace alone can reach me, and love alone can win.
O teach me, for I need you, I have no hope beside-
The chief of all the sinners, for whom the Saviour died.”