I graduated high school back in 2004 with a graduating class of about 115 people. I actually can remember the graduation ceremony pretty well. It was held in the gym at my high school and we were all dressed in our caps and gowns. Mine wouldn’t stay on because I hadn’t had a haircut since my senior photos were taken but I managed. It was a small sea of green under those humming halogen gym lights that somehow made the room feel dimly lit even though all the lights were on and I was in the back end of it. That’s one of the one thing that sucks about my last name. When things are done alphabetically I fall somewhere near the back while all the A’s and B’s and C’s got their diplomas. I was handed a bulletin with all the graduation plans for everyone.
It’s amazing to me what high school does to people and how it influences what they want to do when they decide to grow up. I read the list of graduates in the bulletin and found no real surprises under a lot of the name. The business classes were huge in my school so there were a ton of people going to whichever university they’d decided on to study business or some were going to become doctors or biologists because of our one biology teacher who everyone hated so much yet found favor with a few. Some of them went off to community colleges because they didn’t know what they wanted to be. Some were going to the military and at least one of them didn’t come back because of that decision. All these plans and all these dreams at the ripe age of… 18?
I have absolutely no room to talk because I thought I wanted to spend my career working with computers. So, when I graduated I was listed as going to the University of Nebraska Omaha to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Management of Information Systems. That summer was really interesting in that I got my first girlfriend then she dumped me. I reconnected with someone who I thought was a good friend but, really, he was a liar and we stopped being friends a year or two later. But I was ready to go and I even got some help with paying for books and whatnot by the Dean of PKI. But after one semester of public university and having failed most of my classes for one reason or another, I felt like I had made a mistake, got super depressed about it and dropped out before the next semester could begin. The environment of the school was all wrong for me, I felt, and since I didn’t want to get kicked out of my parents house I got a full time job. Aside from a few attempts at community college and surviving one whole semester at UNO again a few years later, I was stuck again and dropped out.
A lot of life happened between those two stints at UNO but that’s not really my point. In that time I sort of wandered aimlessly in my own desires and I felt so lost. But I made a friend or two when I started going back to church back in ’09 that were an awesome influence on me. I really felt like God had called me out like the prophet Jeremiah. So, I did some looking. We really have two choices of schools in the area as far as private Christian academia is concerned. One is a Christian University that a lot of my friends from my previous church had attended and they didn’t have much that was good to say about their experiences there. So, I explored my only other option and that was Nebraska Christian College.
Like I had mentioned before, I was so burnt out by the atmosphere of major universities. My energy level is almost directly affected by the energy of those around me and everyone around me at UNO were like the walking dead on campus. There was always a sea of people trekking across campus and they all lived in their own little world. So, with no expectation whatsoever I scheduled a campus visit at NCC. I cannot begin to tell you how at ease I immediately felt there and that’s saying a lot because I’m used to a constant state of unease. Everyone there wanted to know who I was and wanted to shake my hand. No one stared at the extra holes in my face and the metal I’d attached to them in fact it was as if they didn’t even notice them. It was like they were Christians, or something.
The decision was made that day and the rest is really history. I switched majors once and am now in one of the most difficult Bachelor’s programs the school has to offer because I knew if I was going to go it wasn’t going to be for something easy. If you know me then you know that mediocrity isn’t really in my vocabulary. I was raised to do my best and to work hard no matter how much it may suck. I was emboldened and I actually have managed to continue to attend this college for three consecutive semesters and now working on my fourth. But I have to admit I’ve been feeling a bit discouraged lately.
I can’t really put my finger on it but it feels like all I’m doing is repetitive motion and I’m always reading something for a class or researching and writing a paper and studying the Bible a lot. All of that should be expected from time to time when you’re in college except for that last one. It feels like work when I read it and when I have to memorize it at the rate that is expected of me and it shouldn’t! I tell myself over and over again that I am studying God’s word to be a worker in His field and I’m just so tired that I realize I don’t make it through but by His grace. I’m having a real hard time bifurcating my lack of energy and zeal for life and my studies in scripture and sometimes I can tell it’s not because of the work but it’s just my attitude. I have a really bad attitude when it comes to life sometimes. But sometimes I look at my syllabi and I just don’t want to do it.
There is a slight bright side to this. There are times when I will hear scripture or I will read scripture or I will study and exegete scripture and I will feel refreshed. Today my pastor read Isaiah 53 and I felt revitalized and convicted. Then I remembered the shirt I was wearing and I unzipped my hoodie like I was revealing a coat of armor underneath. From the top of my chest to my waist it is written “This is the war I was made for”. I actually just got it yesterday in the mail and it was like I was ready for that fight again. And when we worshipped it was as if every cell in my body was just aching to go. I felt alive again. After a very long and discouraging season I felt like God had picked me up off the dirt and clapped his hands to wake me up from the catatonic state I had been living in. So, there was hope in me after all.
But these instances are fleeting and I don’t know what to do with myself when studying the Bible seems like a chore. My current strategy has been working pretty well and that is to just plow through it. Do it, read it, understand it and try to take it to heart. That’s the best I know how with anything. My prayers are simple and quiet these days and they scream for peace and quiet but maybe I’m asking for the wrong things. Maybe the only way for me to grow is to learn to survive this discouragement, to fight back. I’m preparing for war in a peacetime environment and so maybe peace and quiet are not what I need.