I was just reading a quote in the book “Don’t Waste Your Life” that was so profound that I felt I needed to share it.
“…God’s purpose for my life was that I have a passion for God’s glory and that I have a passion for my joy in that glory, and that these two are one passion.” ~John Piper
Ouch! That struck so close to my heart struggles. How often I lose this balance in my life. I strive to show God’s glory to other people while forgetting to delight in the glory of God for myself. For when I delight myself in the Lord, His glory will undoubtedly shine through me. This should be the desire of my heart.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit you way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your justice as the noonday.” ~Psalm 37:4-6
“Every semester, I feel like I have learned something new about myself and about God.” That is what I tell most people about my college experience. I thought I was going to school to earn a degree and get a good-paying job. I was not expecting for my faith and relationship with God and others to be challenged.
I know that I said before that I felt this sense of peace and purpose the first moment I stepped on the UH Manoa campus, but I did not know why. I only knew that it was from God.
The first semester, I learned more about myself than anything else. I realized that I measured my worth by my grades and my accomplishments. I pushed so hard to do well at school that I pushed God right out of my life. At the end, I had amazing grades, but I was depressed and unhappy with my life. I was missing the joy and peace I felt at the beginning of the semester.
The second semester, I began to make friends and get more into my major. My focus was still very much on school, but about halfway through the semester that changed. I had my mid semester breakdown. When I look back now, I think I was tired and frustrated. It was then that I had an epiphany that saved me from an even deeper downward spiral. This is what I wrote in my journal at that time:
God, help me to learn what it means to love others as myself. Do I love myself? If I am perfectly honest, I don’t. I never feel like I am good enough. I feel like I am always striving for perfection. I beat myself up about things that I think I should be doing but I’m not. I don’t like the way I look. I don’t like myself in general sometimes. Sometimes I can be so hard on myself. I think the way I treat others is sometimes a reflection of that.
I feel awful, but at the same time, I feel like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. Its hard to admit when I am struggling with a foundational principle of Christianity. How can I love others when I don’t love myself? I know that You love and value me, but I don’t know if I really believe it. I never feel good enough. Always striving, but never attaining.
I did not believe that I was loved by God, and that was what was holding me back from accepting His love and the joy and peace that comes with it. The rest of that semester was learning how to dwell in the presence of God and accept His love for me. I still struggle with this on and off.
I will call the next semester “The Semester of Isolation.” This semester was the most challenging academically for me, and my life revolved around school. This time, I did not do this by choice. If I did not study day and night, there was no way I would have had a chance of passing my classes.
I did not see my family, hang out with friends, or do much with my church. All I had was school and God. There were so many times I was literally flat on my back feeling helpless and exhausted, and the only person I could talk to was God. I did not journal much during that time, but I do remember the prayer I was constantly praying:
God, please help me, I can’t do this, I’m dying….
The dying part may have been an exaggeration, but that is often how I felt. Each time I was at the end of my strength, God stepped in and gave me strength. I know grades and academics are important to me, but I honestly cannot take any of the credit for my academic performance that semester. All I can say is that God was faithful.
The next semester I call “The Semester of Convictions.”
After the challenge of the “Semester of Isolation,” I felt very tired of being in school and studying constantly. I continued to seek out God at UH Manoa, and I even began attending Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) on Tuesday evenings. I was eager and hungry to feel God’s presence and to put my hand to His work instead of to my academic studies.
One of the major tugs I felt on my heart was the conviction to serve God in some way, some how. If I truly believed in His love for me, then that love should spur action on my part. I searched and yearned for a way to get into ministry. While with Cru, I went on a Spring Break missions trip to Hilo and learned how to share my faith with people I did not know.
I often felt my head and my heart were very far away from my studies, but even then God was faithful. I finished the semester well.
As this semester came to a close, I began to turn my thoughts forward to summer.
To be continued…