On weeks like this, I struggle with an anxious, negative mindset. I'm stressed and overwhelmed with everything that I'm supposed to do, and learn, and be. I'm afraid that I'll never meet the standard. Perhaps I am too much of a perfectionist, an overachiever, but I can't simply switch that off.
Occasionally, when I am especially sleep-deprived, I grow resentful of a system that teaches me the importance of a balanced, healthy lifestyle, and then loads me with so much to accomplish that the balanced, healthy lifestyle just doesn't seem to be an option. I feel something inside of me dying, although I can't quite put my finger on what it is. I feel guilty because I know how much some people would give to put themselves in my position. Yet the "spark" in me gets fainter.
Then at Friday night vespers, a student shares about her mission experience: "That year as a student missionary was the hardest, but also the happiest, of my life."
Yes. I can relate. But even while acknowledging that I had plenty of hard times in my student missionary experience, all my memories are filtered through those rose-colored glasses.
I miss it.
"[E]very woman in her heart of hearts longs for three things: to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to unveil beauty. That's what makes a woman come alive." John and Stasi EldredgeIn my 18 months as a student missionary, I felt like I had those three things, and it did make me feel alive.
I miss the sense of purpose and day-to-day adventure. I miss feeling that I am really making a difference. I miss being truly close to people who saw me at my worst and my craziest, and loved me anyway. I miss how much more simple and people-focused life was. I admit that I miss being told every day that I am beautiful :P
As I pondered how much I miss, God spoke to my heart.
"He made from one blood all nations who live on the earth. He set the times and the places where they should live." Acts 17:26 NLV
Just as God called me to South East Asia back then, He has called me to Collegedale, TN now.
If He could get me through the hard times back then, He can get me through the hard times now. If He gave me a sense of purpose, beauty, adventure and love in my life in Asia, surely He can give me those same things here in America.
Because the same God who called me to student missions is the same God who called me back to student life.
It's OK to look back with joy on times gone by, but I cannot let rose-tinted memories of the past rob me of what God wants for me in the present.
So I go back to my books.
If anyone has any comments and advice about how you survived/are surviving your college years, how you find balance in life, and how you set priorities -- anything that could help me overcome my tendency to stress out -- I'd love to hear from you!