Have you ever had the feeling that you're standing in the middle of a crossroad and that there are three, four, maybe even ten different paths intersecting right where you're standing, leading off in ten different directions? And you can't see where the paths lead. You can see the roads laid out before you every way you turn, but the farther ahead you look the more shadowed the roads become until there's nothing visible but inky blackness.
And then you feel like you're stuck, or you're helpless. And all you can do is stand right in that spot where all of the roads crisscross, trying to figure out which way you're supposed to go, which path you're supposed to follow. Because eventually you're going to have to choose one, and that choice will be completely irreversible. This choice, it matters and matters big time.
But you still don't know which way to go. You don't know which path to take. And you're feeling a total loss of control, feeling a mixture of fear and anxiety, thinking "What if I make a mistake and choose the wrong path?", wondering how long you're going to have to or be able to stand at that intersection before you finally just have to make your choice.
Have you ever had that feeling?
I can't really remember a time when I've ever felt that way. Even when I was making the decision of which college to attend, I never felt like I was standing at the crossroads. Looking back, virtually every decision I ever made - even the "big ones" - never made me feel stuck, or helpless, or no longer in control.
Until yesterday, that is.
Yesterday something happened.
No, it wasn't an accident or anything bad.
If you want to know the particulars, I went to a nearby church with a fellow classmate's family (seeing as I don't have a car or my license, so I couldn't get there myself) and I met a Brazillian exchange student while I was there (his name's David, by the way). I went out to Burger King with my classmate's family and David's host family after service and then went to watch them play at a kickball tournament at my college.
Sounds pretty normal, right? Just a college kid hanging out with a classmate, his family, and another church family. And you're probably thinking, "Where, exactly, are you going with this, Eddy? This doesn't seem to have anything to do with what you were talking about earlier."
Trust me, it does.
While I was watching the games, I noticed that David (the exchange student) was sort of off by himself, sitting alone between games. So I did the nice thing and I plopped down right next to him and we started talking.
It was your usual "How are you?" sort of thing. All fine and dandy... until I asked him if he was having fun. He said, "no." Being curious and not wanting to let him feel left out (since I know how it feels to be the odd-lady-out), I asked him why. He then explained to me that he's having a hard time adjusting to life here. All of his friends and family are back in Brazil, he doesn't have any friends here, and he doesn't have anyone he can just talk to about his problems or whatever.
And right when he said that, I got a sudden, overwhelming feeling punch right through my whole body.
It kind of felt like a nudge, like something inside of me - but not me - was saying, "Hey, you need to be his friend. Hop to it, lady!" Like God was tapping me on the shoulder and saying, "You need to be his friend. It's part of My plan for you."
And that has never happened to me before.
Usually when I make friends it's a slow sort of thing, and I don't even notice when I've jumped up from acquaintance level to friend level. Like with my best friend. To this day, I have no idea when we became friends. All I know is that I didn't know her and then suddenly we were the bestest of best friends. It was such a gradual sort of thing that I can't pinpoint a time when I thought, "Oh, I guess we're friends now."
But with David yesterday afternoon it was like, BAM!
An in-your-face kind of deal.
One second, nothing.
Next second: "You need to be his friend."
Now I have absolutely nothing against being his friend. In fact, I wanted to be his friend when I first met him at church yesterday morning.
But the sudden, out-of-the-blue feeling of this-is-part-of-your-purpose-for-being-here was so overwhelming, so out of the blue, that I could literally not funtion last night. It felt like I was getting flooded with the "be his friend, be his friend" message over and over and over and over and over again.
And at first I thought I was imagining the whole thing. The reason for that is because I don't really have any "friends" here at college. Sure, there are a good amount of people I know or am aware of, but I wouldn't consider any of them "friends" yet. And that lack of friendship - of close friendship, specifically - has made me feel rather alone, like I'm the third wheel sometimes, like "Oh, don't mind me. I'll just stand here, and if you want to acknowledge my existence, that would be nice, but whatever."
And then I meet David who seems to be feeling the exact same way, although it's different because he's not even from this American culture he now finds himself swimming in. That's why I originally thought, "Ok, that's not a nudging from God. That's my imagination messing with my head because I'm just that lonely. No way is it anything else!"
But then that feeling wouldn't go away. If anything, it go more persistent, more "Hello, I told you to be his friend. The least you can do is acknowledge that you understand."
The nagging feeling was making me so unable to function that I just had to tell somebody else, but since I'm not close to anyone here at college I didn't feel like I could just walk into a wingmate's dorm and say, "Hey, can I tell you everything in my heart? Like, right now?"
I e-mailed a good friend, and that helped a lot, but that feeling was still there. So, finally, I got down on my knees on the cold tile floor and just started praying. But I couldn't stay down there for very long, so I stood up and started pacing like a caged tiger, all the while still praying out loud.
"What in the world is going on, God? Is this just my imagination, something that I conjured up to fill a void inside of me? Just wishful thinking on my part? Am I going crazy?
"Or is this real? Is that really You grabbing my heart, tugging on my spirit, telling me that part of the reason why I'm here is because I need to be David's new best friend?"
What's interesting is that my family and I prayed that God would show us where He wanted me to go to college by the financial packages I recieved. Whichever school gave us the most aid, that's the one where He'd want me to go. And He answered that prayer, which explains why I'm in school now instead of working at McDonald's saving up money.
In the back of my head, I knew that whatever school God wanted me to go to that He would have a reason for me to be there. I didn't know what that reason was, or when I would find out what it is, or anything. I just knew that God would show me in His own time why He wanted me to go to this particular college.
I was actually talking with my dad about that on Saturday night, mentioning the fact that I'm so excited to find out why God placed me in this specific school, what is here - either in this school or in this town - that He wants to show me or wants me to do, or whatever.
And then on Sunday afternoon, not even 24 hours since I'd had that brief chat with my dad, I meet an exchange student named David and suddenly feel the overwhelming urge to be this guy's friend.
I seriously spent all last night praying about it and this morning as well, asking God to show me somehow, in someway if that was really Him tugging at my spirit. I didn't care how He chose to show me or when He'd show me. I just wanted some proof, somehow, somewhere, so that I'd know for sure and certain if I was making this up.
And I think I have my answer.
Today at chapel, the chaplain talked about how if God says something, then it's true. In the book of Luke when Jesus said that a man's daughter was not dead but sleeping, then she really was sleeping. It may sound absurd (the people sure scorned Jesus when He said that), it may sound crazy, it may sound bizarre, but at the end of the day we can be rest assured that it's true... that all of it is true.
And that hit me so hard that my eyes bugged out and I even gasped a little. That feeling came rushing right on back, like God saying, "You asked for a sign? I have provided you with one."
And, man, I don't know if I've ever felt so happy and excited in my whole life! I am not kidding! I didn't expect for the sign to come in that way (through the chapel service) or so quickly (about twelve hours after I had originally asked for it).
But it did.
It came. God answered my hearfelt prayers so fast that I've been on an adrenlin high all day today!
That feeling has still been there, but it's not tapping my shoulder anymore. It's there, but not as strong as it was before, just like a little reminder of what I'm supposed to do, what God is calling me to do.
Having prayers answered is awesome. But having your prayers answered and knowing that you have a new goal?
So what does this have to do with crossroads?
Well, I'm standing in one right now, even though I feel as though I've been given clear confirmation as to what I'm supposed to do.
So what are these roads intersecting under my feet? Where do they lead? What are they called?
These are the roads of "how." How do I go about being David's friend?
I've known him for all of 30 hours. I know virtually nothing about him (except that he likes pop music, he has a Sharpei, he doesn't like LOTR or Star Wars, he wants to be a lawyer, and he's having a hard time fitting in). And I'll probably only see him very briefly on Sundays, and not even every Sunday because I'll be going home on some weekends.
So how do I become his friend? How do I reach out to him? And how do I do it without him thinking I'm hitting on him or something?
Looking back, I can't remember having all of these questions when I've gone in to get to know somebody better. But now I'm questioning myself, and I'm seeing all of these paths laid out before me, stretching into the darkness of time because I can't see much beyond the next moment or two much less months from now.
And I'm stuck. I don't know which way to go. I don't know how to become David's friend, I just know that I'm supposed to.
I've asked God to show me which way to go, to provide me with opportunities to get to know David more, and I trust Him to reveal His will for me in His own good time.
But what do I do until then? Do I just stay stuck in the middle of this intersection, looking at every available path, weighing out the pros and cons of each one, decifering which way is the right way?
In a word: yes.
Yes, that's all I can do right now. I can't control this aspect of my life - I can't control most of my life anyway - so I have to toss the keys to God, stand back, and let Him move as He will.
It's hard, because I like to be in control. I like being able to shape my own way, doing my own thing, so watch out or I'll run you over!
But I can't do that.
So I'm standing here where all of the paths intersect, waiting for the signal... whatever that signal is, wherever it comes from, whenever it comes.
And when it does come, you can be rest assured that I'm gonna run headlong into whichever path my race of life leads me on.
Because life is a race, an endurance race. And this intersection is just one of the pit stops along the way.
But you've got the map, God, and I don't. Take as long as you need to, because Your timing is always perfect. You know which path I need to take. You know which path is clearly marked on Your map of my life.
I just have to be ready to run.
Thanks for reading through all that. But, like the Aurora theater shooting post I did a while back, I felt like I needed to write this. When God does show me which road I need to run down, I'm going to need some accountability. Friendship can be a hard road to run on, particularly when you're first getting to know each other, but I really feel like God wants me to do this.
So I'm going at it with everything I have (and I still would, even if that original feeling had never happened).
I am not backing away.
Because God has a reason, and now I do to.
Man, I hope David really wants a good friend as badly as he seemed to want one yesterday.... =D
- Edessa, signing off