Community College and Writing

I struggle with what this blog should look like. What is worth writing about? What is worth sharing about? In my experience, secular authors write more about the emotions and deeply horrible things of life, while Christians try to find some root meaning and then put a positive spin on it. I’m not ready to say either one is bad, though I’ve definitely taken notes from secular artists. (Plus, the fact that I have never been one to shy away from subjects people often avoid…)

For example, this past semester, I was published in my community college’s yearly book of writings and art. There was a ceremony in which all the authors and artists were invited to read or tell about their work. I was actually shocked at how graphic some of the artists got. They were portraying the raw side of life and often a very free morally view of living. No cuss words were left out in these explanations, either. Not things you would want a kid to hear. This kind of expression shocked (who am I kidding- it still shocks me) because it was not what I experienced growing up.

I look into the eyes of these people, though. My professor; my fellow tutor; my fellow student. What I find there is a hurt and emptiness. Cuss words aren’t the problem. Finding satisfaction in another person is not the problem. Focusing on the negative feelings is not the problem. In fact, they as a person are not a problem to be fixed. Instead, they are a person to get to know.

The issue is actually one of the heart. Someone could cuss and do drugs and be closer to a relationship with Jesus than someone who has lived the model “Christian life.” Or, they could have a relationship with God and are just still breaking chains and habits.

Being at community college has shattered my view of what it means to be a Christian. I was homeschooled and was a part of a fairly Christian co-op and my church before college. If I’m being honest, being at a secular institution scared me to death at first. But I have learned a lot since then and love where I am. People there don’t put on faces. At least not nearly as much as those in Christian groups tend to. They are what they are and they’re not usually ashamed of it. But the thing is, I’ve also found that they also leave space for others to be who they are.  Thankfully, I’ve found people also leave space for mistakes and learning! An awful lot of people who don’t know Jesus give grace so well. This challenges me. My life should be a clear picture of love and grace because of Jesus. Yet, there are plenty of times when it feels like I’m being outdone in this area by someone who has not experienced His love and grace. (Which is one thing I love about the Church when it’s working properly. We are challenged and encouraged as we watch each other live for God.) It really is a great motivation to live right when you are doing life with people who could see God’s love and grace at work in you. The thing about being at a college with a bunch of people who don’t claim the name of Christ, learning subjects like biology from a professor who does not honor God, is that you have to know what you believe, why you believe it, and how it effects your day-to-day life.

So what is worth writing about? That really depends, which is part of the reason I go back and forth on the answer. (And is part of the reason why my topics vary so much!) It’s important to be able to write something that is not clearly Christian-based, because being a skillful writer who is knowledgeable about many subjects is important when building report with people who may not know Jesus. But encouraging fellow Christians by reminding them of God’s Word is also a thing of great value. God’s Word never returns void and is a powerful weapon. So who am I writing to and for on this blog? Probably fellow Christians. Though I dearly hope that these posts may be used to help someone who doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus to understand how much they are loved by God.

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Who’s Visiting the Mental Realm

What would Jesus do? A decade or so ago this catch phrase was popular, but now it’s considered cliche. Often we subconsciously ask, “What would mom do in this situation?” or “What would dad do?” or “What would my friend do?” or even, “What would a certain celebrity or leader do?” Sometimes this can be a good thing, especially if they are seeking after Jesus or living in a healthy manor. As a daily habit, though, it can take us off track. I think it’s important to ask who or what inhabits our mind. Because who and what we think about will shape who we become.

So who do you want to become like? Aspiring to have certain qualities we see in another person can be a good thing. We must be careful not to place a person on a pedastool and expect them to be perfect, though. In the end, that only leads to hurt.

I have to remind myself that Jesus is my main example. I’ve begun reading ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’ which documents the thoughts and discoveries of Brother Lawrence. As you can probably guess by the title, he was very good at inviting God into his brain-space.

“When outward business diverted him a little from the thought of God, a fresh remembrance coming from God invested his soul, and so inflamed and transported him that it was difficult for him to contain himself.” (‘The Practice of the Presence of God’)

In a letter he wrote, Brother Lawrence freely admitted that the first few years of striving to think of God often was extremely difficult and disheartening. Yet, it had become such a valuable part of his relationship with God and he recommended the habit to all he came into contact with. I think it’s encouraging to know that the mental realm doesn’t have to be won by tomorrow, nor does failure after failure have to make us quit. There is hope for the kind of closeness with God that Brother Lawrence experienced. There is hope that our minds will be filled with good, positive things. There is always hope. So strive towards that hope set before you!

Paul talked about “dying” in suffering like Christ so, “by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:8-11) The road to freedom is marked by this dying; a relationship with God will inevitably come with suffering. Yet, we are not to run from hardship. The battle of the mind is pivotal and we can’t run from the struggle.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Philippians 3:12)