Saturday, June 18, 2016

From Mountains to Cornfields

"The mountains look different everyday!"

     That's what she said every time someone asked her how living at college in the mountains of TN was. It was true. There were so many layers to the mountains. so many distinct rises and falls. Various portions of the mountains were gloriously exhibited each day when the sun shone through the clouds. On rainy days, the greenness of the trees shone more brightly, and the lighting would hide behind the peaks as it struck. On foggy days, sometimes it was hard to imagine that there were miles upon miles of mountainous hills behind the thick wall of gray. Every time she walked to breakfast she would breathe in the crisp mountain air and praise the Lord for His amazing creativity. She would marvel at how magnificent the mountains were that morning.

     The same was true of college. Although it definitely wasn't always glorious, there was always something new and exciting to learn or explore. There were so many different layers of college, from being a dedicated student, to a loyal friend, to a compassionate counselor, to a daughter away from home, to a musician, to an actress, to a human being learning how to trust the Lord better. Each day different factions of her were pushed and pursued. On rainy days, her relationship with the Lord was tested and grown stronger. On foggy days, when she was ready to quit and couldn't see the other side of the problem, there was always a tug at her heart telling her to keep pushing on. The rises and falls of life on her own was challenging but worthwhile and exciting.

     Now she is back to the cornfields of Indiana, her home. Cornfields are very different from mountains. They are flat and you think that you can see all the way across to another state. It is harder to determine how far it goes. It seems to stretch on forever. Cornfields are very organized. They are in straight rows that never seem to falter. They exist to provide food for many hungry people across the United States. They are practical.

     The same has been true of this summer. This summer her goal is to work as much as she can to pay for the next year of college. Home is very different from college. This summer seems to stretch on and on with just the prospect of laborious hours to be worked in the future. If the money isn't saved by the end of the summer than who knows how long the time it will take to acquire it. Life at home is very organized. She goes to work at one job, comes home to eat and then heads out to the other job. It's predicable to a point. It is practical. She is home to work. to save, to be able to return to the mountains.

Life hasn't stopped. But in some ways it feels like it has. 

     It seems to be an intermission in the story so that the participants can gather enough money to be able to see more of the show. However, life doesn't flow that way. There are no gaps in the time line of a human's life. There are seasons and chapters, not chunks with chasms of void in between. This summer is a season, in both the literal and figurative sense of the word.

     Although she waits to see what the next chapter will be, (she hopes it will be another year in college, but she is relying on the Lord's provision to see that be made possible) she keeps on telling herself to enjoy and grow in the chapter she is in. If you try and read too much ahead you won't be able to pay attention to the page you are on.

She is not stuck, she is not being put on hold, she is not being confined. 

     She is supposed to grow in new ways while she is at home in the cornfields. The mountains taught her much, but sometimes you learn new things when you change environments. Only the Lord knows what comes next. Perhaps it will be an entirely new adventure that she would have never imagined!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Confessions of an Optimist

     I am an optimist.

     If you ask any of my friends or family, they will without a doubt confirm this mental state that I am almost always in. If you go up to one of them and ask, "Is Rebekah an optimist or pessimist?" They will probably give you a big smile and say, "Rebekah? She is definitely an optimist!"

     I see the good in a lot of things. While other students complain about being required to go to chapel, I usually remark about how much I love the worship music. While my other actors complain about the long and arduous rehearsal process before the performance, I will usually comment about how important rehearsals are to establish the details of the script that are so much fun to explore. While many people can't stand being stuck in bed sick, I can usually find an excuse to be happy about having a day of rest from my busy week.

Thunderstorms are breathtaking, hard work is producing Godly virtues, 
people who hurt are most likely hurting themselves inside, 
life always works out in the end. 

     Many people make fun of optimists saying that they would rather be a realist. I want to counter this argument by saying that optimists cannot hide from the ugliness of reality any more than pessimists can hide from the beauty of life! Life is hard and sometimes so ugly that you want to disbelieve that it is real. Trust me, I understand. There have been many times in my life when I look up to God and ask, "Why? This isn't worth living in!" There are horrid people who do horrible things that creates feelings of hate in the people who have been affected. There are diseases and catastrophes that wipe out entire towns of people in a matter of days. Life is not rainbows and unicorns like we sometimes desire it to be.

     But that doesn't mean there isn't any beauty at all. After the storm there are rainbows. After you get sick, your body becomes more immune to that virus. After the pain of childbirth, there is a new life. After the struggle of perseverance, there is the delightful feeling of a job well done. After the pain of waiting, God's best comes along.

You cannot see how good God is unless you can see the evil around you. 

     That's why I'm an optimist. Yes, I'm sure it is a part of my DNA somehow that I naturally want to think positively. However, it is also a choice. You have a strength when you choose to think of the good. When you focus on the bad that is all you can see. You lose the willingness to fight. When you focus on the positive, life doesn't seem so unbearable.

     That's why I'm an optimist. Yes, this world is covered in sin and evil. However, that is not the end. God is still in control, and at the end of all things the world will be right again. His glory will be even greater since we have seen the worst of humanity.

     So stay optimistic! Stay filled with joy as you go through the trials of this life! Keep fighting the good fight while keeping your chin up!