I glanced between the open textbook on my desk and the message on my phone. Meet in the hallway in 10 minutes! By the time I saw the message, I had only 5 minutes to decide and be ready to go. All day, I hadn’t planned on going. I hadn’t even considered it. But then I saw the text. And I thought about the next day, and what it would be like to hear about the event from the girls on my hall. I realized that I didn’t want to hear about how good it was; I wanted to experience it. What felt like only seconds later, I was walking towards the common room with no idea what was ahead of me, but an expectation that it was going to be really, really good.
And I can say with 100% certainty that there was nowhere else for me to be on campus that Thursday night other than in the music hall, surrounded by my sisters in Christ, for the first night of The Well, a monthly event for young women at Liberty University. It got it’s name from the story of the woman at the well, and seeks to empower women through the transformative love of Jesus Christ.
In the space of about two hours, I was wrecked again and again by truths I have been regularly rejecting and forgetting. For years, I have been choosing the things of the world over the things of the Spirit. From my dreams for the future to the way I spend my time to where I focus my energy and affections, I am constantly and consistently prioritizing myself over my relationship with Christ.
I go through this battle of self vs. spirit knowing that there is a definite right choice, and yet I continue to make decisions based on what I want and what satisfies my pride. I can sit in youth group or small group and talk how God is so much more than the things of this world, but when it comes down to making that choice, I consistently fall into the temptation to choose myself.
It’s not that I doubt God’s goodness or greatness, necessarily. I believe that God has a plan, and that His plan ultimately is better than any plan I could come up with. The problem is that for years, I have been complacent in my relationship with God. I haven’t had a sense of dissatisfaction in my lack of spiritual growth. I’ve been lazy and selfish with my time and energy.
That began to change that Thursday when the speaker asked an auditorium full of young women where we had our affections. For the first time, the idea of idols became clear to me. You see, I always knew that faith has to go beyond the mind. That it’s in the heart. I had all the words and ideas to communicate that in youth groups and bible studies. But I never went anywhere with it. For all my knowledge, I didn’t invest my heart in God because I was too busy investing everywhere else. In grades, in successes, in the idea of the future. And most of all, in relationships.
When you’re investing your heart in places other than God, you’re already in the territory of idolization. And relationships definitely became my idol. That idolization turned something I was created to have into something that was pulling me away from the One who created me.
But there is so much grace and patience in the midst of this battle. And there is comfort in the consistency of the God who waits for His children to stop running, turn back to Him, and collapse in His loving and safe arms.
One Thursday night meeting hasn’t drastically shifted my habits and patterns. Change is a process, and this process is driven by my own motivation and discipline. But there has been a shift in where my affections are focused, and the awakening of a new desire to know and love Jesus in a profound, life-giving way.