I sit here, staring blankly at the blank white pages in Word. Sufjan Stevens is quietly playing over the sounds of the traffic outside, and the smell of freshly grounded coffee is eradicating itself from the coffee pot as it sits in its glory awaiting the delay brew to click in the morning.
It’s dark in my kitchen corner, with the Bible on one side, rent checks on the other, and my phone laying somewhere between. This week has been a turning point of this year. Grades are coming together, growing up took place, and a realization that I cannot even begin to comprehend the reality of the speedgame we call life.
Perhaps the greatest show of maturity is the ability to simply keep details of my life to myself. It makes for unbearable blog writing, but it does create a calming presence in my heart. In the midst of applying for jobs, suppressing ring by spring temptations (or perhaps nightmares), and connecting with people for the last time (I will use that broad stroke term for my entire Senior year), it’s nights like these that will allow me to survive.
In a few months, I will more than likely be at least 1,000 miles away from this kitchen. I may be 2,787 miles away if I get wish. Surely I cannot be the only senior who realizes these thoughts. I close my eyes and I am torn, my dreams of the future start to wash into my warm thoughts of what will become yesteryears. Snow storms and palm trees? Subways and Carmageddon? The Pacific Coast Highway and the Brooklyn Bridge? These things don’t go together except in my mind.
Pacing through campus on a daily basis causes me to stare into the people around me. I try to imagine where they are going or what they are dreaming of, especially when they are young and full of Biola and college life ahead of them.
To those who have a few months left (or perhaps weeks) and to those who might just stick around La Mirada for what seems like forever, I have important words for you.
Those scenes in the movies, the slow flashbacks with the bright sun flares and Indie music? Where Christmas romances and summer flings combine with the sights of laughing friends and bon fires? When you can remember staring deeply into someone’s eyes, and remember the time that those inside jokes and late nights to FroYo seemed like they would last forever?
That moment happens. And remember it fondly. Remember it kindly. Remember it with joy. Remember it with tears. Always remember it.
The truth is, you won’t see most of these people ever again…and I almost want to say that you should hope for that. Some friends will certainly carry for a lifetime, but you may not ever be able to walk out of your room and visit them as easily.
Realize that life is long…and realize that you are young…we are young (don’t start singing in your mind). Move around. Travel. Take that impromptu trip to the bay at midnight, ask a girl on a date, go explore Los Angeles, and whatever you do, don’t trip while skinny dipping and eat a mouthful of sand (it hurts later).
Finally…let your soul go until you find it in the hands of Someone who will always take care of you. One day, I hope to see all of you again, for a very long eternity, and I know that I probably won’t see all of you…but I sure hope I do.
Two years ago, I was awkwardly picking up the man I would room with (little did I know, only for a far-too-short semester). If you know anything about me, my college career can be marked by roommate changes, housing changes, major changes, involvement, crushes, and diet changes.
It’s hard to wrap all these thoughts into a cohesive and clean blog, mainly because there is no way to wrap so much history and memories into a space that’s worth reading. With that being said, I found myself listening to Florence and the Machines while doing French homework – something James, my Sophomore Fall roommate, did on a regular basis. To say it took me back would be fair, to say it blasted me to another place is probably more descript.
(As a quick sidenote, despite the ups and downs James and I had, it’s amazing you can miss, appreciate, and love someone so much. James, hope you’re doing well!)
As hard as it is to believe that I’m actually entering my fourth and final year of Biola University, it’s actually more of a struggle thinking back past sophomore year than I thought it would be.
God has blessed me with so many friendships, lessons, and hardships; adventures, flings, and sunsets; experiences, opportunities, and education. I’m not sure if others feel this way, or have ever put it this way, but senior year is a misty haze.
It’s misty because my eyes tear up on a regular basis, because it feels like a fog every day I’m on campus knowing that we’re already ending Week 2 of Fall, and that it’s going to be balls to the walls from here on out.
It’s misty because the masses of new people on campus are unknown to me, and I probably won’t get to know them.
It’s misty because this is truly it. This is the end of any youthful transactions in my life, and from here on out it will be all aboard and full steam ahead on Matt Fier: Adult Life.
My hope and prayer is that this year is undeniably fantastic for everyone, but especially my fellow seniors. That we will allow ourselves to slow down, cry when we need to, laugh a little harder when we’re tired, and realize that this is a big blessing even when it is full of stress and deadlines.
To those who find their ring by spring, I pray God blesses them with wisdom (I had to slip it in there, right?). To those who don’t know what job they are going to apply for, I pray God provides patience. To those applying for Graduate/Law/Med School I pray for endurance.
I’m entering senior year just like I entered freshman year, with my head held high and tears streaming down my face, single (again had to throw it in, right?!), proud of my faith, fearful of my God, in love with Grace, and looking forward to this year of unknowns.
It’s a little easier than it was four years ago, but it’s all the more exciting, because I know I’m three years wiser, been through three more years of stupidity, and yet, Jesus loves me all the same.
I thank Him for that.
The past year I have seen a good friend of mine go through trial (and error) with a relationship with a young man and its effects on her relationship with Jesus.
Her story, while unique, is something I have experienced, both personally and vicariously through others. In a nutshell, a long time friend of hers has been on and off with his pursuit of Jesus but has always been on in his pursuit of her.
While her younger self made promises to him that she would give him a chance if he got his act together and started loving, following, and pursuing Jesus, her growing sanctified self realized that it was a promise she couldn’t keep. This brought on a very difficult time telling him no, despite the fact he appears to be trying to be more like Jesus. By God’s grace, she understands her identity is in Jesus and the gift of salvation on the cross – not by man’s approval (Galatians 1:10-11) – and is patiently trusting this as she is belittled and her character attacked.
All together, my friend showed great faith and perseverance as she has succeeded in loving and reflecting Jesus, and pushing this young man to the cross.
That said I want to give a few thoughts of what I’ve seen other’s do in the same situation.
1. Be leery of people who start pursuing Jesus because of a member of the opposite sex.
While it seems obvious, it isn’t to most people. Too many (young) Christians challenge someone they are interested in to follow and love Jesus, hoping they do, hoping they can eventually date, fall in love, and get married.
As soon as the other person starts to show signs of new life, the relationships starts only to see that the roots weren’t set in good soil and instead were like seeds thrown on a rocky path (Luke 8:4-8).
This nearly always ends badly, normally with one or both people returning to habitual sin, often times together, and it leads to a broken relationship with Jesus.
2. Jesus Redeems Bad Motivators
While I am strongly against jump-starting a relationship when someone starts to pursue Jesus because of another (see point 1), that doesn’t mean Jesus can’t or won’t redeem it.
Jesus uses a plethora of inspirations to bring people to Him (Philippians 1:18). Personally, I am a living example of this. I started to attend Bible study and church regularly because of a young lady. I started to read my Bible out of competition to show her I loved Jesus too (I was 14, give me a break.) Healthy? No. Ordained in God’s plan? Amen.
Fast forward 9 years later and by the grace of God I am attending a Bible loving university, serving in a Jesus loving church, and passionately pursuing Jesus! That young lady is happily married and is a part of a family (which will grow hopefully soon?) that is all about Jesus.
If a person is saying they will start getting their act together for you, encourage them to do three things.
· First, help them find a different Jesus-loving church than you, and attend regularly on their own.
· Second, encourage them to find a mentor (1x1) in this church and make sure they are going.
· Third, watch and see if they get into a community group (or life group, core group, whatever the church calls it).
3. You’re Not Jesus
People always try to become replacement parts. As Pastor Mark Driscoll says in his Trial Serieswomen often times stick around with boys because their maternal instinct kicks in.
For men, often times our “Mr. Fix It” side kicks in. We try to become whatever they need – Replacement Dad, Mom, Brother, Sister, Pastor, Mentor, etc. At the end of the day, it’s really a worship issue. We worship them as our idol, and therefore we try to make ourselves their idol.
You aren’t Jesus nor can you replace real Jesus. Don’t try.
4. Pray, Pray, and Pray Some more.
This seems obvious, but one area that I saw my friend really excel in was her dedicated prayer to this young man. She always trusted that God’s will would be done even if it was against her desires.
Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5 that we should “pray without ceasing” and James the brother of Jesus adds that we should pray in all situations and pray over people in all situations (James 5:13-18).
Whether this is prayer on your knees or prayer spent time journaling to God, be encouraged that prayer works in our best interests (even if we do not see it that way).
Finally, as much as prayer is talking and telling God where we are at, people forget equally and perhaps more importantly is to listen to God’s response. One book I found extremely helpful for this and other disciplines of being a disciple is Celebration of Disciplineby Richard Foster.
5. Live on Mission
What is your inspiration for others to come to Christ? Is it so they will use their skill set to somehow benefit your church and ministry or is it because you deeply care for their soul and eternal situation?
If you’re motivation for someone to love Jesus is for your benefit (aka so you can date them) then you should probably check out of the game and have other Jesus loving people surround your friend.
If you’re motivation is for their soul and advancing the Kingdom of Christ, then stop playing the game and be smart. Jesus knew His own physical limitations in ministry (read Luke for countless examples). He constantly left his ministry to spend time alone. If you truly honestly believe Jesus is calling you to minister into someone of the opposite sex’s life, do it wisely and don’t be afraid to wander into the wilderness to recharge.
If it’s a guy, surround them with brothers you can trust. If it’s a girl, find Jesus-loving girls to surround her and show her what a Godly woman looks like.
Remember that ultimately it’s Jesus who brings real change, and you have a limitation emotionally, spiritually, and physically and that your role is ultimately smaller compared to people of the same gender.
Never grow weary in doing good (Gal. 6:9). Realize your limitations, realize your actual calling, and don’t be selfish. Simple enough, right?
Matthew is a senior at Biola University studying Psychology with a minor in Biblical Studies. For contact information, questions, comments, or to drop a line, click here.