Bitter Coffee, Bittersweet Beginnings/Endings

             Hello friends! Hopefully you’ve had some caffeine in your system today…I’ve personally had about 5 cups! Today, Labor Day, was one of those Mondays where the weather isn’t nice enough to go out, but you just feel wasteful staying in. My plans were made up for me though, as I went to work for a surprisingly short shift.

            Today was also a day where I found myself overwhelmed with a nervous energy. When it comes to the way anxiety works in my life, sometimes I can’t pinpoint the real reasons behind it. Fortunately, I know the reason(s) behind my current anxiety, with school being my first culprit.

            You all should know by now that I go to Johnson & Wales University in Providence RI; I never really shut up about it. Quite frankly, I’m pretty proud of 8 year old Theresa for choosing such an amazing school for me. Anyways, I start my sophomore year of college tomorrow. I have all night labs, so I’ll be baking for at least 6 hours straight, right after leaving an 8-hour shift at work. Just the thought of my upcoming schedule makes me anxious, but it also brings about a deeper sense of determination.

            I spent the past year of my life doing a dual-enrollment program for my senior year of high school, combined with my freshman year of college. This past academic year was hands-down, the most stressful year OF MY LIFE; yet it was without a doubt, the year that I saw Christ work the most!

            Going into last year, all of my peers were still in high school. I’ve always been older mentally, so I found myself ready to start college a year in advance. I had (and still have some) my closest friends always with me, and found that I was at my strongest with those Christ-following friends surrounding me. This year, a lot of them have left for college, almost in a blur.

            Although I’m still in the same house, same school, and same exact place as last year, those people have left. I truly don’t think that I have ever had a mental block this large; I’m so lost with this change in not only my life, but in all of our lives.

            There’s a quote from my favorite show that I shared with my friends a few months back, knowing that this inevitable moment was quickly approaching. “I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them.” (Andy Bernard, The Office).

            When I sent that text however many months ago, I cried, just knowing that they were all going to leave and we didn’t have much time left together. As I sit staring at this computer screen, all I can see is blurred letters because I’m more emotional now than I was then. Call me a baby or whatever you’d like, but losing a large chunk of your family to various states is insanely hard. It’s mentally and emotionally draining knowing that the best and most influential part of your life is over.

I feel as if one of the hardest parts of everyone leaving is questioning whether or not I valued each person enough when they were still home. Did I do enough? Did I say the right things? Was I a good enough friend?

          These questions aren’t just things I ask myself regarding those who have left, but are questions I still ask myself about the friends who are still home: Do I do enough? Am I encouraging enough? Am I annoying them?

          Aside from questioning myself, I feel myself being mentally stuck. Everyone is moving on into a new season of life; a new chapter in their book. Right now, I see myself reading and re-reading the same few pages, frantically flipping through pages to ensure that I didn’t miss anything. Everything in my book of life looks to be a repetition of the past 18 years, with a few rewritten sentences along the way.

          It’s emotions and moments like these that make me realize that I should be running to God, instead of trying to replace the emptiness I now feel because people have left. Lately I’ve been reading 2 Corinthians over and over again. There are so many profound passages in those 12 chapters that draw me back into re-reading them, time and time again.

          2 Corinthians 4:16-18 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

          I saw this passage as an answer to many of my prayers, always asking for God to bring comfort not only to me, but to the few amazing friends of mine that have stayed home for college. I know for a fact that they’re feeling as abandoned (if not more) than I am. This time of growing up and moving on is hard, but I’m hoping that they can find strength in this passage just as I have.

            My heart is aching and troubled by this season of life, but He, THE LORD OF EVERY SINGLE THING, tells us we have eternity with Him. He will provide comfort in these times of sadness. “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” (Matthew 6:26-27).

            Sometimes I laugh at how much I get worked up over something that everyone goes through at some point or another. We worry so much about what’s happening in the moment, and I’m extremely guilty of it as well. Not only can we feel abandoned (unintentionally) by people, but we can feel extremely distant from our Father in Heaven.

           But the Bible says that He takes care of the birds and everything they need, and we are far more valuable. If God takes care of even those annoying little birds that plop themselves down in front of our cars on our commute to work, why are we so worried that He won’t take care of our problems? It truly blows my mind.

           I’m not going to lie….I’m not in the best spot right now. Every fiber of my being wants everything to stay the same. I want Hannah to come share a room with me again, I want to cook Kelly breakfast in the morning, I want to lead Worship with Audrey in the youth room, and I want to sit down and have coffee with Julia and talk about life and EVERTHING. I just want things to stay the same. But they can’t. And it hurts.

          Change is something that bothers a lot of people. A LOT. I’ve never liked it, not one single bit. What eases my bitterness towards change, is knowing that my best friends are finding who they are, and learning about what they want to do for the rest of their lives. They’re making new friends, making new connections, and making new memories…and I could not be any happier :)

          Friends, I will leave you with this: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”

          God is with us through all of these circumstances, big or small. Whether it’s a major life decision, or it’s what route you’ll be taking to work, God has it all planned out.

           This week, try flipping a few pages in your own book. It may be tough at first, but it will bring you a few pages closer to the happier ending. I’ll be trying to do the same! Until next time :)

Love, prayers, and caffeine


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