I spent the summer in Virginia standing on mountains.
I came for an internship, and when I applied for it, I had some hope of it jumpstarting my career as a world-savvy international journalist writing stories that matter. Instead I wrote a bunch of brochures and read a lot of heartbreaking articles (by actual world-savvy international journalists).
At some point in early summer, I started wondering what exactly I was doing in Virginia. The series of events that led to my taking this internship in a city and an organization I’d never heard of seemed somewhat unlikely, so I figured it was a God thing. But I spent my days writing brochures and scheduling Tweets. It wasn’t exactly my dream job, and I hadn’t really made any friends in Virginia. My presence there didn’t seem to be doing anyone much good.
It’s been a good trip around the sun this time. All years have ups and downs but I remember mostly good things. Here are a few:
I spent half the year living with my best friends, and it was wonderful. We sat on our porch reading our Bibles together, made a lot of cakes for no real reason, and had lots of car ride singalongs. Though we’ve gone separate ways for now, I can still go to them for anything. They’re forever friends.
This is a love letter to you and to the Savior who brought us together.
John 1:16 says “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
I have been thinking about grace lately and what it all means. Sometimes we use the word grace interchangeably with mercy, but we also use it to describe elegance: a dancer’s steps, the way eagles soar.
Maybe grace is beauty when we don’t expect it, goodness in a world that is often far from good.
I locked myself out of my Facebook account because I needed to know that I was worth more than a red number. It sounds stupid to me too, but I can become a slave to validation pretty easily.
The internet’s a cool and dangerous place, I think. It’s an exchange of ideas and connections to people far away, but it’s also fake and glossy, and it sucks away time.
On Friday I went to a Write Your Life Story Class at the senior center and listened to old people read stories about their lives. It made me wonder what I was doing with mine.
Sometimes I think I’m afraid of everything.
When I was little, my mom used to pick me up from school on Fridays instead of having me ride the bus home, and I always had this irrational fear that she’d forget me. I can remember at least once crying before school was even over because I was so scared of being forgotten.
It doesn’t make sense to me now, but I remember what it felt like. Sometimes I think I don’t feel so different now. I’m still afraid of being forgotten.
The internet’s a way to carve out a place for yourself, to make people see you’re the coolest or the cleverest or whatever. But it doesn’t translate that well into anything real.
I want to be real.
Someone once asked me what I was going to do with my life and when I said writing, they asked me how that would help people. I don’t remember what I said, but I remember feeling annoyed. They seemed skeptical that I was doing anything worthwhile, and I remember feeling like you don’t get it, you don’t even read books.
But I also thought that maybe they had a point. Some people want to cure cancer, and I just wanted to write novels. It seemed kind of frivolous.
I don’t think it is though. I think the stories you are exposed to, whether through books, movies, or real life, determine the way you think about your life and ultimately what sort of person you become.
I used to think I wasn’t a real Christian because I didn’t feel any different. God forgave my sins, and that was all well and good, but it didn’t make me magically care about him. I went through a long stage in life where I asked God to save me from my sins so many times, but it never really felt real to me. It was nice for that day, and then I went back to not caring. I started to hate myself so much because I thought if God had really forgiven my sins, I would be different. I would actually love him and want to follow him and read my bible and pray and do all that Christiany stuff. But I still hated it. Reading my bible was a chore, praying felt like nothing, and conversations about God were just awkward.
I’m still there sometimes, but I think I’m starting to realize that grace is a process, and Jesus does change things. A while ago at church they talked about the gospel and how a lot of times when we talk about it, we end it too early. Because God doesn’t just forgive us. He transforms us.