“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back. There are some things that time can not mend. Some hurts that go too deep... that have taken hold.” -LOTRHave you ever found a quote that calls to you? Every time you look at it, you think 'that's my life'. Well the one above pretty much describes mine. And I haven't even left yet!
In a way though, my exchange has come at the perfect time. My life right now has been changed by this past year in ways I can't even begin to describe. I'm still me, yet, I'm a completely different person than this time last year. For the good I would like to think.
Perhaps this quote calls to me more loudly than ever when I think of church, and my religion. It has come about in these past few months, well more than a few, that I can't return to my church of my entire life. To a building that I have always known. I want to be glad, and in a way I am. But in a much deeper, more sincere, niave way, I want to close my eyes, travel back in time 4 years and be in that moment. The moment where good was good, bad was bad, black was black, and white was white, no gray. But in the midst of these past few years, I have come to the painful realization that
"We all have fallen short of the glory of God."
No, I didn't just learn that verse. But for the first time in my life, I've learned what it truly means. And yet, through it all, I've also for the first time truly experienced what it means that
"Through His grace, we are saved."
I am a Christian. I am not a Baptist, not a Methodist, not a non-denominational, not a unspecified. I am a Christian. I believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, my sins, and that no man has the right to judge my salvation. Only the Lord God Almighty. I am the most un-religious person you will ever come across. I haven't been to a youth group/Sunday school class in 8 months. And in those 8 long months, I have become stronger in my faith than I have ever been. I can't return to my old church, can't look people in the eye that I have come to love an know, because to look them in the eye, and know would be the most painful thing to do. So I have left. I have not found a stopping place yet, and do not know when I will. So when I say my exchange has come at a perfect time, I mean it in the way, that in this transistion, in this breaking away from an old life, I have begun anew. And once I leave for five months, I feel that there will be no going back, no returning. This is it. End of the line.
This is a journey that began my 8th grade year. One that I have shyed away from, backed down, covered my ears and screamed 'lalalala' trying against all odds to believe that the world is still in black and white. But once I opened my eyes I could only see gray. Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps when I stand before God on my judgement day he will look me dead in the face and tell me just how wrong I am. So why bother? Because on my judgement day, when I stand before the Lord himself I will be able to say this
Lord, I know I failed, but I tried. With every once of my being, with every breath I took, I sought your will, and not the will of a church, or a pastor, but the will of You. For Your glory, not man's.
In exactly one month I will step on a plane and not return for five more. I will leave my old life behind and come back to a new one. A better one, one upon which the realization is that the world is not black and white. Merely shades of gray, with tints of morality at the edges. I hope against hope that this exchange will better me, make me more open, more accepting, more willing to understand, and to grow.
This is it. My last hurrah. My senior year in high school. If you had asked me my freshman year in high school to paint a picture of my senior year, it would be completely different. It would be a nicer, simpler picture. One in which I spent this week at my last year of church camp, my senior breakfest and parade. My senior year at Meta, two parades for JROTC. Perhaps even Corps Commander. But none of these things will happen. I have chosen the road less traveled.
May it make all the difference.