Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reflecting a lot about what God has done in my life over the past year. It was an incredibly challenging time–I was pushed and stretched in just about every area of my life.
But not many people know about it.
You see, I tend to keep things pretty close to the chest. I don’t tend to open up to people until they make an effort. In a way, you have to work to get the Amelia beneath the surface. It’s not that I’m not friendly–that’s definitely a word I’d use to describe myself. I’m friendly, cheery, positive, optimistic, the list could go on. But when people ask, “How was London? How was your year at school?” I tell them that it was fantastic. It’s not a lie–while abroad, I went and did all the crazy things I’ve dreamed of doing my whole life. But it was challenging. It was dark. It was lonely. For weeks at a time, I’d feel depressed because of the spiritual weight associated with where I lived. There were times when all I wanted to do was go home. I missed my friends, I missed my campus ministry. My friends at home were too busy to Skype me. I felt like they didn’t care. When I finally got home, I hoped things, after a brief transition, would fall back into place and return to normal. And they didn’t. Nothing was the same. My friends moved on without me. Relationships that had once been deep were suddenly shallow. People I had leaned on were suddenly unavailable. Almost all semester, I felt like I had no one I could talk to who both understood where I was at and cared enough to reach out. I was constantly dissatisfied with almost everything around me. I was unhappy. I was so eager to get out that, the second my final papers were submitted, I packed up and bolted home.
The whole year, all I wanted to do was do something practical for God. I wanted to use my hands, I wanted to get down to business, I wanted to plunge into ministry. I wanted to pour into others. God has given me some incredible gifts, and I wanted to use them to encourage my brothers and sisters. I tried and tried and tried in London to get my foot in the door of some kind of ministry or church. God shut all the doors in my face. When I got home, again, I tried and tried to do something for the Kingdom. I lead a Bible study. I tried stepping back into prayer ministry. I sought for people to pour into. But, again, God had other plans. He told me to be still. He told me to wait.
So there I sat, exhausted and frustrated, waiting on God.
Sitting and waiting is hard. But through it all, God showed me incredible things. I learned about the depth of His faithfulness. I was alone in Europe, disconnected from any kind of spiritual body, and every single day, when I opened my Bible, God was there. It says in Lamentations that God’s faithfulness is new every morning–it’s so true. No matter how dark it got, He continued to shine His light into my life. He continued to wrap His arms around me, He continued to speak comfort and whisper beautiful promises into my ears. He protected me from the darkness and gave me hope. Over the past year, I have learned that God is enough. Community is important, yes, but when it comes down to it, God is the ultimate sustainer. His faithfulness is incredible.
After all this, God lead me back to Camp Shamineau, one of my favorite places in the world. Today was the last day of staff training. I’m on Program staff this year, and have had the honor of helping pour into the staff as we have trained them for a summer of ministry. This morning, we had a chapel service where we worshipped and took communion. While I partook of the elements, I reflected on all God has done. I thought about the darkness, about the confusion, the loneliness, the frustration. We sang the song “Cornerstone” and in the line about Jesus being our anchor in times of darkness, I just about lost it. Because, even though I had just gone through one of the toughest years I’ve ever had spiritually, God was still good. He still loved me enough to use me. As we sang, I looked around at all the exceptional people around me–my fellow Program staff, the counselors, SMT’s, and support staff. I realized that, after such a trying year, God had finally brought me to a place where I could do everything I longed to do. I could pour into others, pray for them, encourage them, step up in leadership, and help spread the Gospel. Here I was, doing something practical for the Kingdom at last. And I thanked God. I praised Him. For, even though I fail daily, He is so incredibly good.
So there you go. For more on my spiritual journey during my time in London, stop by my old travel blog!