Saturday, September 1, 2012

If you ask, they will come

Sometimes, I like to think I can make it on my own.  I get this independent streak, combined with my obsessive need to do things my own way, and suddenly it just feels easier to do things myself.  Last night, John called me in to watch a movie clip with him.  He'd been watching "Date Night" with Steve Carell and Tina Fey, and thought I would appreciate it.  They are this "boring married couple" (in their words) with kids, living the monotonous life that parents with young children know well.  Their couple interactions have come down to talks about the kids, discipline, scheduling, and the like.  They've just learned that a couple of their friends are splitting up because they've just become "really good roommates" instead of relating as husband and wife.  In the movie, the Steve Carell character asks his wife (Tina Fey) if she ever thought about having an affair.  She adamantly denies it, and he continues to push, asking doesn't she just fantasize about running off with a certain man?  She answers, "God, no!  If anything, on my very worst days, I fantasize about just running off to a hotel room, by myself, sitting in the air conditioned room alone, with no one touching me, and eating lunch and drinking a Diet Sprite."  The husband responds, "That sounds awful!"  I laughed in connection, as did John.  It's easier on your least in the fantasy world.

There are times, too, that I fear I will be all alone.  I feared that before I met my sweet John, and my greatest fear is always that I will lose the ones closest to me, John and the kids.  At work, I often fear that no one will show up for events, and there will be no interest in the activities I do.  I worry that I will be on my own with no connections and nothing to show for the passion that grows in my heart.

This summer, in the quiet, lonely hours of a deserted campus, I prayed for the students, those I know and those I don't yet know.  I prayed for the campus, and for it to be a safe and nurturing place in which to explore faith and spirituality.  I prayed that students would have a desire for God and would seek God through their college journey.  I prayed for our student chaplains, who I help mentor in faith and ministry as they minister to our campus alongside me.  And I prayed that I would have the wisdom, faith, and spirit to guide them as well as to care for my own spiritual life.

I prayed, not knowing what God would provide, but trying to trust in God's will and work to put in place what was needed.  This year, as I helped with new student check-in and had them fill out a religious preference form, it seemed as more were indicating an existing faith and a desire to grow in faith.  As I met students, some had already heard about chapel programs from other students, who had encouraged them to get involved.  By the time I returned to the chapel late that afternoon, several students had already stopped by to visit.

As I greeted returning students, one of my student chaplains from last year stopped by with a friend, who wanted to know more about being a student chaplain, and within minutes of our talk, another of their friends dropped by who also got pulled into the conversation.  In a meeting with the student chaplains later that day, we had two new ones join us, in addition to another two newbies who are not yet on campus, and three very excited returners.  I was hesitant to share that we needed an increased level of commitment this year, knowing how overcommitted they already are, but I noticed they were already sharing how they desired for faith to be a larger priority in their lives.  When I mentioned an event that I had planned for early this morning, they asked if they could help.

I hate to ask for help, but I'm learning to accept it when it's offered.  There's another line in "Date Night" where Tina Fey is complaining about how she has nothing left to give her husband because she spends all day taking care of everything and everyone.  And he replies, "Well, I know someone that can help you with that."  Just like my husband, he's been offering to help, but she refuses to let go of anything.  This morning, as I arrived at work at 7:30 and rushed around like a madwoman setting up, I left little work to be done.  But my faithful helpers came anyway and offered their help and supportive presence.  When I asked for something, they were quick to get it done, and stayed to help clean up.  As we were cleaning the kitchen one remarked how she had been praying this summer about how to have a more spiritual experience at school this year and how to keep growing in her faith after a summer at a Christian camp where that was the focus.  And she, like me, was amazed at how God was already working to bring people together in faith.

The room this morning filled, and we had to move to another space.  There was good conversation and connection, and one student spoke to me about how the activity we did connected to a time of spiritual growth in her life and was a good reminder in this uncertain transition.

Sometimes, I think I can do it on my own, but more often, I am so overwhelmed by how God sends those I need to help me, to guide me, to teach me, and to remind me that I am never alone.  I need others just as they need me.  I am right where God placed me for a reason.  If I need help, I need to ask, and they will come.  And when I pray, God always shows up.

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