I don't know what it is about this weekend in my life, but I feel like really important, life-changing things keep happening year after year. It's kind of funny and ironic. And weird.
This weekend has been a important checkpoint in my spiritual journey. It's been extremely fulfilling on so many levels. First of all, like I mentioned already, today is the 3 year anniversary of my heart surgery. I know that people are over it and don't care, but it is something that I deal with and think about almost every day. I am not burdened with it anymore. I used to be until exactly 1 year ago this weekend.
Soul Link was this weekend and as I spent time reflecting on God and immersing myself in Him (which is exactly why I love things like Soul Link...an entire weekend devoted to thinking about God!), I also began to reflect on my life these past three years.
About 3 years ago, my life was as blessed as always and things were going along so smoothly. I had such a great life. I was only 3 semesters away from graduating, I maintained a 4.0 GPA, I was dating a really great guy, I had an amazing group of friends, I had a great apartment and was living with the best room mates ever. Things were going so well for me in every aspect of my life. I felt so content. Then, out of nowhere I got sick and my world turned upside down (sick being an extreme understatement, but I have already devoted so many posts explaining this, so I won't go into too much detail here).
For the following 2 years, I fell into the age-old trap of trying to "fix" everything myself. God did the important stuff (keeping me alive), now it was my turn to do my part. I felt like I had to work hard and make my life worth it...you know, pay God back, in a sense. How could I have so stupidly thought that I could even be remotely good enough or able to pay God back or even accomplish anything for that matter? That was my first problem. I needed a major lesson in humility. I am NOT in control, never will be, and never can be. It doesn't matter if I get all my ducks in a row, as I would soon find out, because THAT is not the answer. There is only one answer and that is to surrender your entire life to God. Jesus takes your pain away. But for 2 years I tried to "fix" everything myself.
I put my hope in the wrong things. Not bad things, mind you. All the things I worked for and wanted were good things that I believe God wants to bless us with, but the problem was my motives. I was putting my hope in these things, when it really needed to be in Christ alone.
I thought I needed friends because I was alone in Houston after moving back home post-surgery. I was immediately blessed with a solid support system of great friends who are incredible. I still felt empty.
I thought I needed to get my health back on track. I was the healthier after that first year, than I have ever been. I only ate perfect, healthy food and worked out an average of 6-8 times a week. I was obsessed. I was in great shape, and felt good physically. I still felt empty.
I thought I needed to find love so I became a serial dater. It's funny because I never thought I would be that girl. I started with a very conservative, Christian-school (aka only date someone you could see yourself potentially marrying) attitude, but eventually saw how ridiculous this was and finally started acting more like an adult (aka non-committal, give it a chance, just looking for someone to spend some time with, enjoy life, and laugh together dating). I have to say this was one of the best revelations I have had! Although there wasn't a single truly meaningful relationship there, in a strange way all those little relationships added up to be a very meaningful and treasured experience for me. It was the confidence boost I needed and I learned soooooo much about myself, what I want, what I value, and who I am. Also, I am the type of person that likes to try everything once, before I make a final decision. I never want to resent someone because I feel like I settled. You know, it's just your basic principles of research. I kept meeting the most interesting and (for the most part) great guys. I still felt empty.
I thought I needed to get my education back on track, after dropping out for a while. If I could just secure a career path or at least have a clue what I was going to be when I grew up, I would feel better. God truly blessed me by leading me into medicine. He made this part of my life incredibly, miraculously easy. But, I still felt emtpy.
I find it so interesting because looking back, I can see that God was so patient with me. He just let me take 2 entire years of filtering through stupid ideas of how to make my life better. Even though He knew what I really needed in order to be completely healed, He blessed me with all the things I was asking for, just to help me to understand. He realized how dense I can be, and figured a 2 year object lesson was really the only way to get through to a stubborn Armenian.
You can actually go back to the old post I wrote after Soul Link 2008 (1 year ago!) and see where I talk about a spiritual renewal. I was an empty shell of who I was meant to be. I was in a terrible downward spiral and it happened to be at Soul Link during a song at a concert where it all became painfully clear to me. I heard God speak. It wasn't the booming, scary God voice, but it was my own voice, except in a way that I never really hear it. It was clear and there was a sense of power, calm strength, and authority. The answer was not to hide from the pain and fear and uncertainty. It was not to find solace in a planned out future, in love, in friends, or anything else. It was to love God, to love Jesus, and to surrender everything to Him. The only way to be happy was to be completely His, and you can't be completely His, until you surrender.
This past year, has been such a blessed one for me, in every way. I changed my attitude and my life that weekend. That is not to mislead you into thinking things have been perfect. In fact, things have gotten downright bad at some points, yet there is unexplainable joy in my heart. No matter what I do or what happens to me, I have purpose. Although, I don't always know what that purpose is, I have faith in a God who will always take care of me and love me.
"To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
in you I trust, O my God.
Do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame...
Show me your ways, O Lord,
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love,
for they are from old.
Remember not the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you are good, O Lord...
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart have multiplied;
free me from my anguish.
Look upon my affliction and my distress
and take away all my sins.
See how my enemies have increased
and how fiercly they hate me!
Guard my life and rescue me;
let me not be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope is in you."