Blessings to you wonderful Zoe!!! This was amazing I really really enjoyed reading. This post was an encouragement and challenge all at the same time!!
******************"Incredible Changing and Re-arranging"
By Zoe Wood
God has been doing some incredible changing and rearranging in my life these past few months, however, I have decided to focus on my high school experience and what God has been saying to me about it.
In order to help put my high school experience in context, I will give you a brief history on my life prior to high school. I grew up in KCF and went to the private school at Koinonia. So in Gr. 10 when we decided it would be smartest for me to switch schools into the public system (for academic reasons), I am sure you can imagine my shock. Growing up I never felt like I was ‘sheltered’ or kept away from the ‘real’ world. In fact, my parents even encouraged us as children to play on city sports teams and take lessons to get us outside of the church bubble of protection. Nevertheless, I truly think nothing could have prepared me for the culture shock until I was actually fully immersed in it. You can prepare as much as you want but everything is much easier said than done and head knowledge is way different than heart knowledge. You really don’t 100% know what is inside of you until push comes to shove, and this was a hard lesson for me to learn.
During my time at KCA I honestly thought my relationship with God was great, and that it was exactly how it should be. And then I switched schools. Needless to say my world felt like it was shaken, turned upside down, and ripped out from under me. Never in my life had I been in one building with over 1000 young people all trying to fit in and find their place, or with such low morals and standards. Yet they were all so accepting, and looked like they were having such a great time. It was definitely a confusing situation, so I turned to my Christian friends at church, and where were they? I felt like they were nonexistent. For the first time I felt I did not belong in my church or with my church friends. So I turned back to my school friends, and they welcomed me with open arms. As the years progressed I got more and more immersed in their culture without even noticing (to clarify, you can definitely make the culture at public school what you want it to be, quite simply I just made some poor choices and judgment calls).
But the point of this blog is not for me to talk about how screwed up I was or am, and it is not for me to stay stuck talking about my past, in fact, that is one of the things I learned through this experience. I have learned that God is much quicker to forgive than I am. He is much quicker to forgive me and my past than I am, and to forgive others than I am. For a while I beat myself up about my high school years and disliked myself because of the choices I had made. Then after a crazy God-encounter during my devotions I realized that He had already forgiven me and was sitting there waiting for me to forgive myself so He could move onto His purpose and plan for my life. God also forgives others more readily than I do. I had been holding onto an offense for years now. I thought that my church friends were supposed to be the ones accepting me, not my public school non-Christian friends. Now the sad part is after having finally talked to them about this long over due offense, we all came to the realization we had all been unspokenly offended at each other and for peddy reasons too. We had all been so caught up in our offense and what we felt the other person did to wrong us that none of us thought to deal with it in the logical way; which is talking to the person, letting go of the offense, forgiving, and moving on. You see, what I learned was that offense is a choice, no one can force you to be offended, you choose all by yourself to be offended, and you also choose how you deal with it.
The second thing I learned through this experience is that sometimes God chooses to let us do our own thing for a while. This is for two reasons:
1) If He forces us to love and serve Him when we do not want to we will end up hating Him and Christianity. We will be spiteful and not want to do whatever He has called us to do. This method would prove to do more damage than good.
2) The longer we are in the desert, the thirstier we get. The longer I lived my life without God as a priority, and the deeper I got into doing my own thing, the more valuable and real this experience of coming back to Him has been. God gave us a free will, so He can’t force us to learn lessons the easiest way possible, but He can definitely, always, make the best out of a poor situation and turn it around for good. See, to be honest if I had stayed at KCA I don’t know where I would be right now. I would definitely still be in the church and serving God, but I don’t know how passionate I would be because I never would have had the experience of living life without God, I never would have had the wake up call. I probably would have still been stuck in my mediocre-Christian-zone. I have lived life without God, and now I have chosen to live life with God. I have seen the insane difference it has made in me as a person and in my life. I am not suggesting the way I got to this point is the best or right way; in fact, if it could be avoided, I would strongly recommend to do so. What I am saying however, is that God is good and will take the inch you give Him, turn it into a mile and change your life if you allow Him to.
The third and final thing I will share with you is this: be real. It is simple, but not easy. If I had been real in the first place, with myself and others, I don’t think I would have ever gotten to the point I did because I would have been open to have talks with my parents, or someone saying that I was struggling with my walk with God. I think it is really hard for Christians as a whole to do this because we all want to be like Christ’s image, and He was perfect. The small thing we all seem to forget in putting on this perfect image facade is that we are not God! God would rather use one screwed up person whose heart is in the right place and genuinely wants to serve and obey Him, than hundreds of Christians who have been in church their whole life, know all the ABC steps to becoming the perfect Christian, but are slowly dying on the inside and not willing to love and serve God whole heartedly. We all have our own set of problems and we need to be open about them. It’s funny because I always feel like God cares when I screw up or have problems (which He does), but not nearly as much as I do. I feel like we as Christians put an unrealistic pressure on ourselves to portray a perfect image, but God doesn’t care as much about our imperfections, because He already sees the solution to our problems. So this is just a little tid-bit of what God has been teaching me about lately.