I have determined that college has had the worst effect ever on my spiritual life.
Not because of parties. Come on, I go to a Christian school.
Not because of guys. Come on, I go to IWU. Not exactly the land of burly men (we all have our preferences, now don’t we?).
Not because I never gather with the body of Christ. Come on, chapel three times a week (insufficient in adequate and legitimate teaching from time to time, but that’s just my opinion).
I thought staying busy was a good thing. Holy cow. It’s awful. I’ve been busy since I was born, but these past four years have worn me out. I’m currently a building monitor for the PAC, a grader for one of the Music History classes, Chapel coordinator, I start working at Paddock View very soon (as in actually working on top of doing my practicum), I’m in Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, Chorale (and I’m Vice President as well as the alto section leader for that), and, oh, hey, silly me.. I’m obviously holding down a full load of classes.
AM I CRAZY!??!!
Short answer: yes. :)
I love my life. I honestly, truly do. I love everything I’m involved in. I love the people I work with (eh, well, most of ’em ;) …). I love what I do (most of the time), but I do NOT love the toll it has taken on me spiritually, emotionally, socially, etc.
I have the typical Christian college kid problems: My spiritual life is so dry, so lack-luster, so .. empty, because I just don’t have time. I don’t have time for a serious prayer life, Bible study, meditation, etc. If anyone has ever needed to pull the busy card, I’ll be honest, it’s this girl. That’s not good enough for me though. It’s so lame and so overused that I want nothing to do with it, but how am I supposed to get away from it?! Look at what I do! Furthermore, if I’m going to be completely honest, I don’t even want to…
I was thinking about all of this the other day while thinking about how I still feel like my spiritual life is more on the rags side as opposed to riches. I started thinking about how I’m “not where I should be” in terms of spirituality. I find it slightly ironic that it was just a few minutes later that a friend who’s a freshman at a Bible college in Tennessee sends me this text:
I’ve been really sluggish in my walk lately, not necessarily in the motions but more unbelief and this battle of my will. What I mean is I’ve hit this point of desperation where I kinda want to give up but I know what the Bible says about that. It’s like a battle between how I feel and what I know. Not feel as in feelings or emotion but I mean more like my sensitivity in my walk. How do I get through this? How do I not give up? I have little to no desire to read the Word or pray and it’s becoming increasingly difficult. What do I do?”
I felt like I had texted myself and was asking myself for advice. He put everything I’ve felt into words. I can’t speak for him, but I can safely say for myself that at some point I became so busy that it started killing me spiritually. The thing is, I don’t necessarily feel “empty” like I said I did. There is definitely a particular emptiness there, but it’s not the “normal” kind. Quite honestly, I think it’s the exact opposite.
I’m too full.
I like being with the ragamuffins. I like the people who are rough around the edges. I like the ones who will cuss up a storm and not care who’s present. In fact, I LOVE those people. I love the ones who have been hardened by life and just want some sort of hope to get them through. I love the ones who hate my Christian beliefs. They frustrate the dickens outta me, but I love ’em. I love the ones who claim to have been burned by the church. Those people are awesome. The ragamuffins are the absolute best. Been there, done that. Not sure I ever stopped being a ragamuffin. In fact, I know I’m still riff-raff. :) But you get it. Those are the people I love. The problem is, I’ve come into contact with them very few times over the past four years unless I’ve gone home. I’ve been here. I’ve been … ah ha … busy. I’ve been practicing and rehearsing, working, leading, etc.
And then Paddock View comes into the picture…
Last Friday was my first official Friday at Paddock and WOW, guys. I LOVED it. Let’s be honest: she gave me the “easy” kids, who, behaviorally were absolute gems. They may not have picked up the drumming very quickly, but they liked it! And they really seemed to like me! And let’s be real here: I fell in LOVE with these kids! I have some of the cutest kids in my groups. They. Are. Precious. And they’re trying! They WANT to be good! This sounds so stupid, but very few things have been as much fun as drumming with them. When I came back to campus after last week, I was on Cloud 9. I was so excited for them and because of the time I’d had with them. I’m SUPER excited to go back tomorrow and see what happens. It made me think that just *maybe* I’m in my real element. I’m not sure I’ll do something like this for the rest of my life, but for now, I’m definitely where I think I need to be.
So what in the world does this have to do with being empty… Glad you asked. :)
Oswald Chambers has an awesome devo that basically says we cannot be emptied unless we’re emptied by service. God fills us up every time we empty ourselves in service. Emptiness due to service is wonderful, but we don’t stay empty. God always fills us back up so we can be poured out once again. Perhaps that’s where my spiritual unrest has been. I’ve been too full and I haven’t been emptying myself out. Pouring myself into these kids has been what I’ve needed to do. I haven’t been serving enough. Although I’ve wanted to, I haven’t because I’ve been too dang busy.
Feeling like your spiritual life is a wreck? How busy are you? Think you’re empty but, when you think about it, you haven’t really done much? How much have you been serving? How much have you poured yourself into other people? Have you poured yourself into other people? If you haven’t, start there. Even if you think you have nothing to give, if you have the Spirit dwelling in you, then you have something to give, but you have to look for it. Sitting around and waiting for God to drop people or situations in your lap is never the best solution. Seek out the ones Jesus would have sought out. I admit that this opportunity really seemed to be God dropping this into my lap. I lucked out. I also don’t think I was waiting. Studying the wrong thing? Possibly, but I was actively waiting (although I hadn’t asked.. Typical Hannah fashion: Charge head-first into something without thinking it through or praying about it) Any other time I’ve sat around and “waited” (also known as AVOIDED) on God to put some wonderful opportunity together and done nothing in the mean time, it never ended prettily. Even if you do something that seems like it makes no sense and doesn’t add up, still work. Still do work for the Kingdom. There’s never a time that we should sit around and wait to serve. I can’t find where or how that could be biblical. It’s important to always take time for self and to pull away from the rest of the world, but these are not instances where we are hesitant to pour ourselves out in service. These are times when we’re filling back up from the service we’ve been actively engaged in.
So, are you too full? If so, how will you empty yourself out?
Pray on, friends.