Communication has never been one of my strong suits. My last three years at high school were spent intentionally avoiding any and all communication. And it worked, although looking back I realized it was a mistake. But I told my mother when she made me change schools that I “wouldn’t make any friends,” and I had no intention of being wrong.
Going through high school without communication is like watching Inception without sound. It was clearly complex and obviously very high stakes for everyone involved, but for me it was just a walk in the park. It never really mattered. Unfortunately, I was so focused on losing touch with the world that I lost touch with something more along the way.
As graduation came and went, and my freshman year of college drew closer, I could feel myself losing touch with the church. I stopped feeling like a member and started feeling like an observer. My hope at the time was that Lipscomb could get me back on track, spiritually, socially, and academically. And in a way it did, but not in the way that I was hoping.
Skipping forward past the trauma that is socializing, I found myself one year in with my four closest friends alienated and my stress starting to be reflected in my GPA. When the year finally ended, it wasn’t pretty. Being at Lipscomb, I had always felt surrounded by light, but I was naive enough to think that I could walk in the light without being followed by my shadow. A constant reminder of the mistakes that I’ve made and the opportunities I’ve missed. I was, as Afie Jurvanen (aka. Bahamas) would say, “lost in the light.” I had was surrounded by so much good and I still couldn’t find my way.
This is somewhere that I think a lot of people find themselves sooner or later. Standing in a bright room, staring at their shadow, wandering if the light will ever overcome it. Your shadow could represent anything. For example, depression, anxiety, grief, loss, regret, etc.
So I found myself half way into the summer completely lost. I wanted to crawl back to my home church for help, but it felt like there was nothing left for me there. There was essentially no class for boys, and no dedicated youth classes at all. I visited a few other churches, and some of them I liked, but they never felt like the solution to my problem.
I decided last minute to go on a mission trip with my church, this would be my sixth, and the experience was incredible. I had forgotten how much I loved mission work. In coming back home, I began to search harder for my solution. I was studying the bible and working through anything I could find to inspire me to be better.
Suddenly, there was a break through. As I was looking through the pages of various Instagram friends (of which I have like 25 so really just killing ten minutes here), I noticed something. In someones bio was a link to a page just like this. Since I was already invested in wasting time, I clicked on it, and what I found was really inspirational. It was as if God himself saw me failing to find my way and decided to set down something right in front of me and say “try again.”
And I did.
With enough dedication, even while I was seemingly alone in my struggle, I found a way to walk beyond the shadows and into the light. I was so inspired that I organized a student lead devo the next night and gave a lesson on self doubt. I could feel myself pulling away from my self doubt and moving towards something greater. I began to realize I was never alone in my struggle. I began to see the opportunities that were being presented to me on a daily basis, and I took advantage. And I am writing this now in large part because of what that one persons writings inspired in me. But I’m also writing to tell the story of what happened in my life tonight.
For context, I have been going to the edge of the mountain where I live and looking over the city and praying nightly after dark. I have found it to be a great forum for me to talk to God without distraction. And a few hours after I came back home tonight, I was compelled to go back. I wasn’t sure why, but I just felt like there was something more to say. When I arrived, I immediately noticed that there was a fog beginning to role in from the river and into the valleys. I was immediately stunned as I had never seen anything like it. As I began to pray, the fog continued to role in from the right to the left of my view of the city. Eventually, it began to cover my entire view. As I turned away and continued praying, I turned back to realize that had now fully engulfed my view and seemed as if it was moving towards me. Since I arrived I had been smiling about the incredible view, but now I was just in awe. As it came closer I could feel the wind pushing it past me, and seconds later came the lightest drizzle of rain. It almost seems fake remembering it now, but in that moment I really felt that God was working with me in a way that I had never experienced.
And as the wind died down, the rain continued to drizzle lightly, and I neared the end of my prayer, I thought for one quick second that the wonderful display was over. Maybe 30 seconds later, there was a gust of wind that blew the clouds past me towards the mountain, revealing once again a spectacular view of the city. As I finally finished praying (this was a long prayer, like world-record-you-never-sat-through-anything-like-this-in-your-life-prayer, partially because I spent half the time gawking at the view), I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to tell someone what I had experienced.
So now it’s 1:44 AM and no one’s awake so I’m writing to record my experience. It’s not quite the same as telling someone, but it’s satisfying enough and I think it probably counts as self expression.
Even though I haven’t really found a definitive solution to the problem of being “lost in the light,” I can say for sure that if you don’t look for a path to follow you will never find one. And if you look long enough, God will show you what you were looking for, and it will be better than you could’ve ever hoped.