The countdown begins: how many more assignments, tests and exams left until fall semester is officially over? I draw in my breath quickly as I count backwards to today’s date and exhale the number seven. Only seven left. Out of what felt like (and may have been) more than 100. Frequenting that feeling of, “I need to just get to the end of the week,” and then starting all over again. It dragged on, but it also flew by. I can finally taste the sweet promise of rest and Christmas and family and really, really good food— can you?
If this was a race, we’d be running the very last lap.
I have this habit of getting sucked into every semester’s deadlines and demands. I’m in a constant state of feeling overwhelmed and exhausted; I tend to push my own needs and friendships aside, using the brief two weeks in December as an excuse for extra sleepovers, hot cocoa and girlfriend get-togethers to make up for the entire term. To be honest, I want to graduate and have enough time for everyone…but that isn’t the season God has me in.
I hunger for a life not dictated by obligations, but one that gets to sink into the saturated presence of Jesus in every moment, holding the hands of women I call “my heart tribe.”
That’s my goal: to put people first. And I’ve learned something: it’s okay to not get it perfectly right, or even close to right. But this day is my training ground to put true friendship into action. And I will fail. Maybe a lot (I already have). But I will keep trying. Today. Tomorrow. January. April. Next September. For the rest of my life.
If you’re anything like me, you’re hard on yourself for getting stuck in that vortex. Shame and guilt overwhelm the people-pleaser in you. But in between the stress, family issues and the personal faith-doubting crises, there were sparks that mattered, weren’t there? There were little moments that made you want to dance and soar because you felt like Jesus was beside you, whispering: “moments like this one right here is exactly what you were made for.”
Yes, dear heart. So forget the glamour. Forget the Instagram-worthy outings and perfect lighting on food-filled plates. You were made for little, almost hidden sparks of friendship -cultivating so normal you may miss them if you don’t look twice. You were made to share the hardships that wage war in your heart and mind. To have those weekly Monday afternoon “#coffeechatz” in Starbucks. To laugh till you cry together. To take turns spilling the vulnerable, ugly thoughts and listening with mercy and compassion. To whisper words of strength up to heaven on their behalf. To write them loves letters. To hear your phone vibrate with that long text message that reminds you you’re worthy and beloved. To send them that text message. To keep each other accountable to wake up earlier than usual to read the Scriptures (and to drink more coffee). To muster up the courage to step foot in a church you’ve both never been in. To talk about faith and the grappling of our rollercoaster emotions the entire commute home.
It has always been about people. It was breaking bread with them in the midst of the midterm-cramming and lack-of-time anxiety just like how Jesus did with his closest when he was, arguably, most afraid. It was confession and laying down the masks everyone hides behind. It was inconvenient hours of the day, going out of your way, tired eyes and hardened, hurting hearts coming together to seek His face, His will, His joy, His love. It was imperfect people choosing to stay and to show up for others.
These are the things I remember from these last months. Not my grades, if I stayed on top of my schoolwork (although this is important), if I got that scholarship or if I was the most well-liked person in my class or job - but I remember how I tried my best to honor God as the center of each moment I was given.
If this was a race, I hope when you cross that finish line, you will have chosen to run with the same people who pop into mind when something hilariously random just happened and you want to tell someone or when you urgently need prayer, no questions asked.
If this was a race, I hope you’ll know it actually wasn’t a race - it wasn’t a competition but a choice. A choice to fill every corner of your life with more time for the things that echo into eternity and to put away the things that steal it. It’s a choice to open your eyes in the morning and sit with the Spirit, praying for renewal in your mind and asking that He send anyone who needed a flicker of His love your way - and that you would respond.
Life isn’t a race. It’s a journey. A journey we’re still on. And it won’t look like anyone else’s. And that’s okay. You’re okay.
You have been given the gift of this day.
And whatever it asks of you, remember: all is grace.
Yesterday is gone and forgotten.
You’re white as snow, sin forgiven.
Blessed beyond imagination.
So hug your people often and tell them how much you love them.
I pray we find time to rest in the glorious aftermath that is December.
-Christine Vezarov // @thisbechristine