17 was a big year for me. I graduated from high school a year early, got a full time job, really began exploring who God was, & fell into community for the very first time. in fact, I’ve often told people that 17 has been the best year of my life so far. when I was 17 everything felt brand new. every year since has been wild & wonderful & very very hard. but 17 still has a very special place in my heart.
when I was 17 I also started keeping a journal for the very first time. it ranged from concrete accounts of daily activities to abstract prayers. 5 years later, I have 9 neatly stacked volumes sitting on my bookshelf. they encompass a dizzying variety of experiences. there are entries that make absolutely no practical sense when I go back & read them, pages stained with tears, a dozen different colored inks, & entries scribbled on napkins tucked between the pages. when I’m posed with the whole hypothetical “if your house was burning what would you take?” scenario, the answer is this little stack. hands down.
every birthday I sit down with my pile of journals & read about each birthday before it. & sometimes I do this on random days, too. earlier this week I sat down & read about my past five August 15ths. & apparently August 15 has been a historically low day in the life of Ruth Ann. everything I read was pretty rough–from being in high school, really confused about who God is… to being super nervous about starting college… to experiencing extreme hurt in relationships… to going through some pretty nasty culture shock. the pages all reflected times when I was worried, anxious, overwhelmed, confused, helpless– times I felt that God was distant.
this year’s August 15th was not so great either. there are so many things that continue to confused & overwhelm me. to live is an awfully big task & attempting to do it well is really hard sometimes. but you know what? sitting in my bed with all of those journals open, I realized… in every single instance, things turned out just fine. I’m still some days confused about who God is… but he has been so faithful to pursue me & teach me. I made friends in college & had four good, good years. the culture shock subsided & taught me so much. & the list goes on & on.
reading back over five years of highs & lows quieted & comforted me. despite what I might experience in the middle of any one particular plot arc, the whole big 9 volume story of my life screams these words found in the book of hebrews: “he who has promised is faithful.” & as if he knew we would ask “but what about in the meantime?” the author simply urges us to “hold fast & not waver.”
so… when life is painful & overwhelming, here’s to holding on tight & digging your heels in… to not wavering… to breathing deep & resting easy in the faithful yahweh God who keeps his promises. even in the midst of circumstances that seem scary & out of control.
p.s. I think I am going to plan something fun for august 15th next year.