There are times when things seem so hectic and uncertain that we feel the need to just be. We think that only a simple word from our mouths will cause an uproar or that if we go outside the safety of our homes, we will be judged or unsafe. I have felt this way to many times over the past six months. If I am being entirely honest with you, I have felt this way several times in my life, especially in high school. I felt as if anything I said would turn people away from me, or that if I lived true to who I was, I would be judged and picked apart for being me. For three years, I lived in the safe space of my personal bubble. I dreaded going to lunch and having to walk through the room, seeing tables that marked different friend groups’ territory. This was something I did not have, I dreaded walking the halls alone, so I became addicted to my phone, something that gave me the slightest bit of comfort, and do not get me started on the heart-stopping moment of being called to the board by my algebra teacher. All of these things left me questioning what I needed to do differently to avoid experiencing this anxiety anymore… and then one night, I asked myself what is my life was pointing towards. And the scariest moment of my life occurred then when I realized it was pointing to nothing. I couldn’t bear the thought that I was living such a vanilla life I had literally become scared to live.
I knew it was time for a change, so I found myself signing my name on the list hanging on the door of our campus minister’s office to take part in the upcoming junior-senior retreat. I was terrified, but I recognized Christ did not call us to comfort, and I had been living there for a very long time. A few months later, I arrived at the campgrounds with a pillow, sleeping bag, clothes, and a very closed heart. But throughout that weekend, as I heard each of my peers open up about some of the deepest, most hidden moments of their lives, I realized I wasn’t as alone as I had felt for so long. I remember thinking to myself, you mean to tell me… the captain of the football team … the guy I pass in the hall every day, who is always surrounded by people trying to get his attention, yeah him… his life isn’t perfect? My world was pretty much turned upside down, and in realizing everyone has a story to tell, I also was able to step out of the cozy little bubble that had held me back for so long. Spoiler alert … This was just the beginning of a journey that I am still on, and one of the roadblocks I continue to try and overcome is the fact that I find myself hoping my life points toward me and not Christ. One of my greatest fears has always been that I won’t be known, I think this stemmed from the great loneliness I experienced during high school, and to prevent that from happening, I would do things that brought me further from God that I could be closer to others.
In this, I always felt incredibly empty. The harder I tried to be relevant to others, I realized I had lost what was most important to me, the love of the Father. In this realization, I found where I am genuinely known. Let me tell you there is an incredible amount of peace that comes from knowing you are loved and recognized by the Father, and most importantly, that he calls you by name. That is what I had longed for my entire life. You know that moment when you come in contact with someone you recognize but don’t exactly know, and they say your name… I don’t know about you, but I am always taken aback. Wow, you know my name? You feel known. That is how it is with the Father, he calls us by name, and we call Him by His. When you believe that, even in troubled times, you will live a life of purpose, joy, and peace, and you will know where it comes from and what it is pointing towards, The Father.