Things You Learn While Packing

So, we made it. By “we” I mean those of us who are finishing up this school year. Personally, I am about to finish my sophomore year of college. The end of the year means finals, finding summer jobs, saying goodbye to friends, and worst of all; moving.

Yes, moving is terrible. Taking down decorations, filling boxes, and moving furniture is something that I will avoid as long as possible. So naturally, I’m writing about it.

Here are six things I learned while packing:

  1. Sticky tack is awful. And at the beginning of the year sticky tack seems like such a great idea, but eight months later it does not.

 

  1. My apartment/home/room is always dirtier than I think it is. I think, “I clean pretty regularly”, “I keep up with my chores”, but when I move the couch and finally look under the rug I find three layers of dirt and a tiny suburb of dust bunnies huddled in the corner. Always. Every time.

 

  1. I have so much stuff. I would even say I have too much stuff. And most of it is literally junk that I forgot I had, so I put it in a random closet or drawer and never dealt with. Why do I do this.

 

  1. I don’t need to save so many pieces of candy. It happens, I get candy in the mail, collect it from campus activities, get handed candy from people trying to catch my attention from tables in the cafeteria. And then where does it go? In a bowl. In my apartment. And then forgotten about until it’s melted or hard or gross. Lesson: go on a candy purge every three weeks. It’s very important.

 

  1. I will never feel more powerful than when I successfully fit a million random things into my tiny little toyota corolla. She’s strong, but she is mighty. Like the little engine that could.

 

  1. There are very few things that are as sad as walking into an apartment that is empty of decorations, furniture, and every little thing that made it home. When I first walked into my apartment, the white walls and empty rooms are a blank canvas for everything that is coming. But leaving an apartment with white walls and empty rooms feels a little like erasing everything that was.

My goal, as I move out of sophomore year and into summer and then junior year, is that the end is not an ending. It is not erasing. It is restarting. It is clicking the metaphorical refresh button and letting yourself be open to new opportunities, situations, and people.

As we finish this season, don’t think of it as an end. Think of it as a re-beginning.

Silence.

Silence. How often do we find true silence? How many times a day do we find ourselves sitting in a space so quiet that we can’t even hear the humming of an air conditioner, or the buzz of the electricity in a lamp? For me, that answer is never.

Silence has become an indulgence. Something that we reward ourselves with after we’ve completed all our work, seen everyone we need to see, and finished all the chores around the house. And maybe we don’t even experience silence after that; maybe our reward has become watching television while scrolling through social media.

When I study, I listen to music. If I’m with people, someone is usually talking. When I’m doing chores or getting ready, I pick my favorite playlist on spotify or turn on the TV to provide some background noise. Silence has become bothersome. Silence has become a bad thing.

Last week I visited a small chapel that sits on the back of my college campus, and for the first time in a very long time, I experienced silence. For over an hour, I sat without distractions and was silent; no phone, no homework, no emails buzzing in my pocket. It was in those moments that I realized how loud life truly was…how loud I allowed life to be.

We need silence. We need to sit without distractions and be still. The Bible gives us several verses about this:

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10).

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:14).

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” (Psalm 62:5).

“Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.” (Job 6:24).

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,” (Isaiah 30:15).

Yet today we are fed constant noise. Maybe we like the noise because it distracts us from having to listen. God uses the silence to speak, and perhaps the truth for many is that they don’t want to hear what the Lord is trying to tell them, so they fill their lives with noise instead. This reminds me of another story in the bible:

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Ninevah and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’ But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.” (Jonah 1:1-3).

(If you don’t know that story, Jonah eventually gets swallowed by a fish and then comes to his senses, following God’s directions and doing as God asked. There’s a whole veggietales episode about it.)

Basically the point I’m trying to make is this; silence is a good thing. Silence is peace. Silence is sanity. Silence is listening and obedience. And in this loud and pushy world we live in, silence is necessary.

However, silence is still hard to find. But I encourage you to search for it. Find ten minutes in your day that you can dedicate to silent listening without distractions. Maybe it’s waking up ten minutes earlier, maybe it’s staying up ten minutes later, or maybe it’s substituting ten minutes of your social media time. However you can find it, I encourage you to use it.

Danny Gokey

If We Are the Body…

In a bible study I was having this week, I came across this verse in Ephesians 4. It said, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” (Ephesians 4:25). All members of one body. Now, I grew up in the church. I have heard this metaphor my entire life. I know that the Sunday school answer is that we are all supposed to love, encourage, and lift each other up, and that is true. But this image of being the same body became new to me when I read this passage again.

I think all Christians can agree that we are at war. As followers of Christ, we are in an ongoing battle with sin and evil. My question is, isn’t that exhausting enough? Isn’t that taking up enough of our energy? Why would we spend time fighting within the body?

I thought, maybe this is because I attend a Christian University. Although I am not naïve enough to think that all of my classmates and peers are Christians, I do know that that is the environment that we are constantly submerged in. Chapel, bible studies, prayer groups, and worship nights fill the schedules. That is a wonderful thing, and I love going to school here because of it. But I also think that we as students, are somewhat sheltered to the challenges outside of our little safety bubble. As a result, we forget to keep our eyes on the prize.

It can be easy to forget where the enemy lies, and the result can be conflict and quarreling with the “allies”. The battle is hard enough when we’re fighting the enemy; we don’t need to make it any harder by fighting with our fellow soldiers.

Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

We are called to live together, brothers and sisters, and lift each other up. None of us can finish the race on our own. Be active in your fight and invested in building the body of Christ.

Jordan Feliz

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