It’s that time in the semester where I can walk around campus and see people doing one of a few things. First, there are a lot of people sleeping. In their cars, in the student center, or in the middle of the street begging to be relieved of this stress brought upon them from the professors of NMSU. The street part may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the begging part is not. Second, there are a lot of people rethinking their life choices. “Maybe I don’t really want to be in the medical field, I mean, I always liked babysitting so I’ll stick with that as my career.” “Never again will I commit to five classes, three clubs, and a job.” “Next semester I think I’ll just take twelve credit hours. Or three, yeah, three.” And of course, there is one of my favorite things to see, which is the giant Starbucks cups everywhere. Everyone is running on Starbucks, and not just any small, regular coffee, but jugs of it. Shout out to Starbucks for keeping college students (marginally) sane.
Despite all these things, for almost all of us, finals week is not the worst. What is worst is a week or two before finals week, when we have to be in classes, doing tons of homework that is suddenly all due at the same time, or when we have to study for finals and write papers for finals. That is the most stressful. So, be nice to your local college student in the last month of school, not just finals week. They’ll appreciate it. (But the extra sympathy at the end is always great too).
Since this semester and school year is ending, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection. I messed up this semester so many times. Whether it was small things at the restaurant, or big things in relationships, I messed up. Somehow though, God taught me how much I can handle. Didn’t know that I could write an eight to ten page report in less than a week every week, but apparently that is possible. He also taught me how much I can and do mess up. But because of his grace, I know that I can do a whole lot, even in the midst of mess. You keep going and don’t quit when someone yells at you, or when someone pulls you down so far with their unstable emotions, or when someone hurts you unintentionally, or even when you get a less than perfect grade on a lab report you worked on for hours. And in the middle of this, you read some cliche quote on strength and endurance, or some quote for the boss woman you can be, and you learn to forgive, let go, and be amazing as a way to strike back at life, just to say you can. Be messy, and then get up and get your life together. Let it cycle sometimes, because we make messes and we need to give ourselves some grace, but then to get our lives together is empowering and is a small way of telling ourselves we can, and God has it. This isn’t to say we are some big deal and the world should know our awesomeness and we can do all things alone. God gives us a chance, He gives grace, and we can use it or we can take it for granted. God is the one who can speak the truth we need into our lives. Sometimes this truth calls us to repentance, and sometimes this truth simply says, “Yes, that is what they think, but I forgave you and I set you free”. Instead of being trapped by the messes we make and the things people think about us, right or not, we can be freed to live so much by the freedom in Christ.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yolk of slavery.”
Grace defines reality
If you’ve read my About page, or my Welcome post, you may have noticed that I make a big deal about grace. This is because it is so critically important to every aspect of living that one cannot speak of it too much. The more I contemplate grace, the more I am amazed at the awe-inspiring depth of it. I think of grace, and I think of God, for His character is abundant in grace. And this shatters me every time. I know that I am small, and He is so much more than one aspect, one characteristic, one description, for He is both love and sovereignty, vengeful and kind, wrathful and long-suffering, beautiful, good, just, and full of this wonderful thing known as grace. The thought of His character is enough to shake my entire being. It is enough that should I witness it with my eyes, I am afraid I would be turned to dust and blown away. I would be obliterated. The thought that this God, who is so huge, so much more than one thing, would even think of me is beyond my comprehension.
I have made a mess. In fact, I am a mess. Just the other day I was devastated by my failure to be a decent human being, and I could not contain it any longer. I was filled with shame. BUT GOD, who knows all things, saw me and loved me still.
In a moment, I realized- I have done things that people hold against me. Some people hold onto hurt, and it pains me to see that I have done anything to cause them pain. BUT GOD, despite human grudges, saw every hurt done to every person, and He felt the pain of every sin done against Him by me, and still He chose the cross. This is His character revealed. I can’t begin to comprehend it. This is grace. He extended kindness to a world full of sinners, underserving of anything good. He gave us a chance, and it is the biggest chance in the history of second chances.
God does as He chooses. He is great, He is mighty, He is Creator. His character is His choice. And of all the things to choose, He chose to put up with the most defiant creatures. He chose to give them a chance when they turned away from Him. He chose to be good to them when they didn’t deserve it. He chose to be a God of abundant grace. He didn’t have to do any of it. There is no rule in the universe saying that He must do this or that. All things come from Him.
This is what I choose to remember and take away from the semester. So many things changed and happened. I grew. But the most important part is learning God’s character a little more, even in the crazy.