"Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny." - C.S. Lewis
Of course I had an idea about the culture of CSUN and IVMCF, enough to know that I wanted to work with these students. I was excited. I was excited to work with students who respected me, excited to work with InterVarsity, excited to wake up in the morning. This was feeling right. The "jump all in" tone was set for my ministry when literally a week after I accepted this internship position I was on a boat to Catalina for their annual Spring Break Camp. I met many of my students for the first time and many had no idea who I even was when I set foot onto the island.
When school started, however, I did not want to admit that I was still limping in pain from my teaching experience. I spent the last several months covering up the bleeding wounds to appear whole and healthy. I falsely believed it was more important to appear "held together" in front of students who experienced their own pain. They had suffered apparent neglect and abandonment. They felt passed over and unseen for such much of their InterVarsity lives because there was so little staff consistency around. When I entered the scene, they were tired and exhausted - just wanting proof that the Lord hear their cries.
I knew God heard them. I could hear their cries for staff, for mentoring, for discipleship, for love. I went in to meet the need that I saw. I stepped onto campus with a beating heart - a miracle after what I had just been through - and longed to see healing on this campus of brokenness and hurt. Jesus had every intention of healing these students but what I didn't fully realize, what I didn't fully see is that Jesus had every intention of fully healing me too.
This past year has not been an easy one. No healing can ever be easy. Those who go through physical therapy would be able to attest to this that after a damaging experience, there must be time to rebuild your body and strength. Jesus needed time to rebuild the strength of my soul. I started out in zealous excitement of my job - knowing how much better I seemed to fit into this role than as a middle school teacher.
Through working with my leadership team and my discipleship relationships - Jesus began to press into my hurt and pain. In October, when I sat with one my students during a moment of healing prayer, and I smiled after the moment was done. I felt a sense of joy that we pressed into the hard parts of her life and that she was wiling to go there. Jesus suddenly spoke to me and whispered: "Your breakdown is coming - and it's going to be bigger." I then braced for single moment of falling tears, snot mixing with sobs, and public humiliation that only red faced crying could bring.
But my "breakdown" wasn't a single moment, it was process of breaking down of my old self and a breaking through of the God-inspired, made in God's image self that I was always supposed to be. As God broke down my old wounded self - every issue of trust I ever had in my life began to rise to the surface as I felt overlooked by supervisors, by students, even by peers in my life. I felt the brokenness of a fallen world where people walk by invisible. God kept bringing himself to the surface - showing his own faithfulness, his own vision, and his own heart for my life as I remained consumed by the people who ignored me.
When stories like this get shared there is usually one climatic moment of change. It's good story telling, (it's what I attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, at one point to teach my 7th graders about plot) - every story has a climax. Truth be told, I don't think I've reached it yet. I've had many moments of small "breakthroughs" where I see the self that God has created me to be but God is still sifting through the shit I piled up from before - the lies I've let myself to believe about myself and about who God is. I look forward to the next year of my internship to see where God brings me then.