This morning for my spiritual formations class (yes, that’s a class I get to take as a Bible major :)) we walked the spiritual labyrinth on campus. If you’ve never done a spiritual labyrinth, essentially it is an exercise for spiritual growth in which you walk around in a circle, following the curving pathways (an accurate metaphor for life), and stop when there are words etched into the ground and reflect on them. Sounds cool, right? I thought so too until 8 am this morning when I remembered how much I hate mornings and morning classes, especially when I was up late the night before.
So there I was at 8:01 this morning, power walking across campus, wondering if I should have stayed in bed that morning, trying to make it to this labyrinth for class. Once I got there however, and my professor gave me the go ahead to start walking through, my mind began to change with the first word carved in the ground.
“Transition.” I am in a time of transition right now. In less than a month, I head out to Orlando, Florida for a Summer Mission Project to meet a bunch of people I don’t know, and get to know them for ten weeks, sharing the word of God with other college students. Now let me tell you something. Coming to college was one of the scariest things I’ve done in my life. Being surrounded by what feels like millions of strangers and being expected to become friends with all of them is essentially an introvert’s nightmare. Meeting people is not high on my list of hobbies. Actually, it’s not even on my list of hobbies. And yet, for some reason I have decided to have an experience similar to this again. I will become part of a large group of people whom I have never met, and I will be expected to be their friends and be around them for a whole summer. An entire summer of meeting new people, and I have brought this upon myself.
Granted, I was to some extent drawn to this summer project by the allure of Disney World, getting to work at the happiest place on Earth, but as I walked through the labyrinth, praying for my transition, meditating over words such as “devotion” and “purity,” I was reminded of the real reasons I choose the Walt Disney World Summer Project.
I love telling people about Jesus. I love investing in people, giving them hope, and helping them to see a brighter future. I don’t always like meeting new people and making small talk, but I love getting to know people once I have met them, and entering into deep conversations with them about their lives. This summer I will be able to get out of my current Christian bubble and hear what other college Christians across the country think, as well as be reminded of what it’s like to be surrounded by people who don’t believe the same things as me. I will get to think deeply about what I believe and what I have been taught, and use it to answer other people’s questions.
All of the excitement and fear for this summer came bubbling through as soon as I got a moment to step away from my studies and realize that my spiritual walk, and the process of preparing my heart for the summer was lacking. The end of the semester is always hard; teachers bombard you with twenty tests and papers, and somehow they all manage to be due within the same week, sometimes the same day, and we as students always get caught up in what our GPA will come out to be, and forget that our focus should be on God.
“Endurance.” “Communion.” I prayed to God as I walked that He would give me the strength to endure these next two weeks (two? That’s it??) and help me to focus, not on my school work and my GPA, but turning my thoughts to Him, and preparing my heart for this summer. I prayed that I would feel peace about choosing this option, and that when the time came to fly (by myself! Ahhh!) to Florida, I would have a ready heart to meet everyone and build relationships.