Travel Confession Time: I’m low-key obsessed with Boise, Idaho.
As God is dealing it, it seems Boise won’t be in the cards for Evan and I heading forward after all, BUT ever since that day I have longed to make my pilgrimage to the completely adorable city where “We serve fries, burgers on the side” … raise your hand if you connect to that on a spiritual level.
AND I AM FINALLY HERE!
I only have about 5 hours until I punch in at the airport again, so I woke up early to give myself the fattest wandering buffer possible. Fun fact, in the winter the sun doesn’t rise here until like 8am. Cool, right? Unexpected! Another fun fact, this is probably why virtually no businesses open until after 10am … so at 7:00 in the morning with another hour til sunlight is even a thing, I head to the only establishment I can count on: any place that brews coffee.
I open the door, fling myself into the tantalizing warmth and glorious immediate face kiss of black coffee smell and realize I’m not the early bird today. I’m utterly surrounded by students. Undergrads meeting with their emotional support group sharing their stresses and mental pitfalls on their way to finals. Students draping themselves across every inch of the indigo corduroy couch in the corner, fab frothy drinks held between kneecaps, clearly trying to get in some sweet social buzz before heading to class. Single students colonizing entire countertops with their MacBooks, real books and scratch filled-notebooks, chargers spilling over the sides all tangling in competition for the only coveted wall outlet for easily ten feet. Two (assumed) grad students in jeans and suit jackets, probably pre-presentation, sound-boarding their speeches off one another.
It’s like stepping onto a film set – comfy, professional, intimate, exactly what I imagined I’d be inheriting at 18 …
Nope. God said no.
Even better, He said no through my parents – which is a very special kind of hell for a teenager who thinks they’re about to move out, no? *Finger kiss explosion* Fantastico. And for the record I took it like a champ …
If you know me personally or have read my blog before you’ll know my life didn’t quite swing in that direction. If this is the first time we’re meeting, “Hi I’m Bekah and I never graduated college.”
Sometime in the first semester of my senior year my parents informed me that they’d be extremely willing to help me get my degree if I were to attend community college and then transfer to a four year university after two years. They said, (and sweet mercy were they right) “it just doesn’t make sense to pay thousands of dollars more for the same degree at the end of the day.”
Ugly truth bomb: I was LIVID. I was ENTITLED. I was the freaking, blazing worst.
It just felt so incredibly unfair to have proceeded my whole young life getting A’s & B’s and hearing “keep getting grades like this, sweetheart and you’ll be able to go wherever you want!” (Looking back I realize that my parents may have been putting a lot of faith into the scholarship system, but I just saw it as a guaranteed ride after some studying.)
All around me it seemed like everyone else’s parents were more than willing to shell out to give the full four years at a four year university. Community college hit me like a punishment rather than a glowing opportunity, and once that outlook set in, my senior year took a pretty miserable turn. Caught in the throbbing joy of classmates all around me, the electric current of every acceptance letter, every weekend campus tour, every choice of major, minor, dorm room and meal plan … I felt cosmically jipped.
I remember there was a cork board in the cafeteria boasting the names of colleges and the students who’d committed to them … I pathetically fantasized about stealing the little blue construction paper star with my name on it under Germanna Community College and slipping it discreetly in the garbage. The weight of the stigma was, by my count, just too heavy for my dainty little ego, and in a truly trademark move for that time in my life, I turned to dishonesty.
“Where are you going next year?!”
“I don’t know yet.”
“Maybe JMU, maybe VCU …”
Pretty sure I even threw a “Still fielding my options” out there. (Ew. Boo. I know it.)
Obviously I couldn’t keep it from everyone and my closest girlfriends at the time were unfortunately super down to affirm my crappy outlook on the gift my parents were offering. Other than those core four friends I pretty much withdrew socially – I was in my car before the bell rang, don’t remember going to a single football game or senior rally, and found myself on graduation day taking pictures with a grand total of eight people because of it. You’d never have guessed I was a member of choir, marching band, drama, honor’s society, Spanish club …
It sucked and I profoundly sucked.
Even if my outrage was warranted – which you can all clearly see not a single ounce of it was – you’d think it would be enough motivation for me to work harder and max out my comm college class schedule every semester, right? Reach the two year finish line early and move into that season of on campus coffeehouse living I was idolizing so freaking hard. Instead I happily got in the enemy’s car and gave him ridiculously large chunks of my heart to afford being even more self-righteous, more emotionally aggressive, more lazy.
PRAISE, the Spirit graciously pulled me an inch outside the radius of my ridiculous pity party and it became aggressively plain to me just how ugly I was being. Pieces of that bitterness lingered in me for long months, the last drops, even for years. Recalling it now to share it with you all is a struggle, if only because I have to relive the moment I snapped out of it and realized just how deep my heels were dug into selfishness, foolishness and sin … how harshly my parents must have felt the slap of my anger against their willingness and desire to bless me.
In the wake of sin comes shame. Or at least it does for me, every time. Here I am on a layover in Boise years later, seeing others in such a sweet bubble of life, and can still feel that subtle sting of the enemy rearing his ugly stupid pimple head, whispering to me about failure and missed opportunities and not enough-ness. Even now with daily career satisfaction and genuine thankfulness to my parents and The Lord for helping me to avoid tens of thousands of dollars in student debt. Even with a burning passion to share with others who are on their year 18 precipice the sweet truth that while college is great it is not the only road to success. Even with a community and a family and a husband who all have degrees yet think zero percent less of me for ultimately choosing a trade school instead, in moments like this one the ghosts of once aching expectations can still sneak into my psyche and grind against my spirit.
When I see my sin, so ugly, so nasty, so brazenly not of the Holy Spirit that is meant to define me, it’s sometimes easy to let even just a little self-loathing in. Just a taste. Because I deserve it, right? It’s my fault so it is my portion …
I am only just now learning … That is not of the Spirit either.
I don’t always realize the cunning of the enemy, that spiritual warfare isn’t always the full throttle ambush-style attack on the heart it can sometimes feel like, but rather that secret accountability you feel to the sins of your past God has already forgiven, has already paid for, has already separated you from forever.
While repentance is our share of grace I have found no where in the bible where God calls us to abide in it’s depths. What I find instead is:
“Repent, therefore, and turn away, that your sins may be blotted out.”
And the promise …
“For I will be merciful toward their iniquities and remember their sins no more” Hebrews 8:12
And again …
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
And even …
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our wrongs from us.”
God has the authority and the desire to completely blot out the sins of my past. That’s totally crazy pants to me. It’s something I know to be true and yet, I still struggle with living in that liberty. There are so many other examples, countless stories I could have thrown at you instead, of straight up selfishness when I have both knowingly and unknowingly chosen sin over God’s sweet and actually satisfying alternatives. But I am not accountable to them any more. I’m not! It is for freedom that we have been set free! I don’t have to live constantly looking back at old bruises and pinching them again. I don’t have to carry all of my old selfs around with me in case someone pays me a compliment today, to remind myself who I really am.
This memory of the sin I chose, and the experience of its’ shame took .05 seconds to sweep through me just now. It wasn’t a full blown depressing pity party, just a little pin prick, an inward nod of acceptance, yeah, I’m not that great, and then retreating from the counter with my steaming cup of coffee and the tiniest pinch of self punishment. It’s so subtle that it’s second hand to me now, but I’m realizing I’ve pretty much allowed the enemy to rent out real estate in my head to in order to help keep me low. And it’s just not okay.
If we truly repent to The Lord and he lightens our burden with his ultimate and game changing forgiveness we won’t forget how needing of it we are, but we are actually called to live in the freedom of that release! YES. PRAISE! Thanks, Jesus.