Everyone is searching for something. Searching for love, acceptance, purpose. During the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I felt like I had to stop searching for at least one thing. I had just returned from a trip to inner-city Houston with a youth group from South Carolina. There was a bible study after I got back at the Neistrath's house, led by our then-youth intern Andrew Finney. I'm not sure if it was during prayer request time or when, but I mentioned that after being in Houston, I had decided that I should go into Youth Ministry. I remember feeling a great sense of purpose and even satisfaction in my decision. My sister was also there. I don't recall any exact words, but I remember her face. She seemed very proud (in a good way) and showed sincere support in my decision, as if she knew I was making the right choice.
From that summer through the end of my senior year, I felt my confidence in that decision grow and grow. I had become a leader in my youth group and a stronger believer in the way of Christ. As I went into my freshman year at ACU, that belief became even stronger. Although I felt like, to some extent, I didn't fit with many of the other Bible majors, with their experiences from big churches and their fathers who knew the professors personally, I still had a strong sense inside that I was going to be used to not just Change the World (ACU's motto), but Change Lives. I was assured in knowing what degree I wanted to get and what I wanted to do with that degree and my life. Even with insecurities about fitting in with such people as Bible majors, my belief in my purpose never wained. I felt like I was gaining tools to use on my work ahead. That is, until my sophomore year...
During the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I did an internship down in Brownsville, TX. Without going into details, it will suffic to say that I made some poor decisions, and many poor decisions were made around me. After that summer of seeing my arrogance and a church with no purpose to exist, things became rather dark for me.
I often refer to my second year in school as the darkest year of my life. Though there were fights with depression and that type of darkness, I refer more to the lack of light. I saw no light at the end of the tunnel, no light to guide my direction. I did see, however, my ability to alter persons' lives...though not the way I originally sought. So, during my sophomore year, halfway through the Fall semester and after considering transferring, I decided to change majors. It may have been a hasty decision, maybe it wasn't. But I felt I had lost purpose, direction. I saw what I was capable of when I was "at my best" and it was nothing I wanted any part of. I saw what people in "church" truly believed, and wanted nothing of that either. I still believed in prayer, though I stopped praying for months. I never stopped believing in God or that he had an overall purpose for life on Earth. I just stopped believing in myself or that I should have any involvement in his purpose. I did, however, start believe that in order for God's purpose to be fulfilled, I should stay out of the way, so as not to block his Light or be a hinderance to his saving ways.
I don't know that I've totally stopped believing anything that I've just said. This past summer was probably the best 3 months of my life. It was like God was allowing me to be used again, ever so slightly, in the lives of people who needed him. But I still long, hope, yearn for a sense of purpose even close to the one I used to have.
It's a bit foggy in my life right now. I don't know when the road will curve, wind, or stop. I don't know what paths I'll take. But at least this time there is a light, ever so dim, peeking through. Maybe one day I will see it in full brightness.