Last year for me was a terrible year. Without going into too much detail, nothing seemed to go as planned. Internships that seemed to be all but official, fell through. Class schedules were tough. Financial stress and emotional stress seemed to bombard me from every which way and no matter what I did, I just couldn’t shake it.
Little known fact about me, when I get overwhelmed, when I get stressed, I meander around, and that happened a lot last year. As I was telling my roommate how I deal with stress, I need to get away. View it as a fighter going back into his corner between rounds, getting a drink of water, rolling his shoulders and walking back into the center of the ring to go toe-to-toe for one more round. That’s how I do it. I designate a place where I can retreat if need be. While at home, it’s always been at Camp, especially during the offseason. (see post about Ricky Court’s sermon about this) While at Asbury, I go up to the baseball fields. It’s a place that’s rarely visited by anyone outside of the baseball season. It also offers one of the best places to stargaze without any interference from lights.
It served as my quiet place. Like Psalm 42 says, “As the deer pants for streams of water…my soul thirsts for God.”, that’s where I went to find God and to get a little extra motivation to persevere on. Prior to last year, that plan worked pretty well. However, during that last year, I began to find God there less and less. I would go up there frustrated and sit for twenty, thirty minutes. Sometimes I would talk, other times I would listen. But when I’d leave, I would never feel anything different. The burdens I thought I was leaving behind (both figuratively and literally, as the main part of campus is behind the ball fields) seemed to follow me wherever I went.
There’s a quote from the movie Rocky Balboa. It goes like this: “You, me, nobody is going to hit as hard as life. It’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward.” That became a mantra for me over that year. I envisioned myself as Rocky in that moment; on my knees, tired, bloodied, beaten. Needing to rise up one last time, needing to dig deep, to find my fighting spirit and carry on.
But, I didn’t have it in me. Instead of serving as a rallying cry, like Rocky typically does in my life, I lied flat on my back and stayed down. I slowly started to spiral into deeper states of frustration. Piece by piece my confidence in myself, in my faith, in just about everything, was broken. That carried on for much of the year to the point where I just about lost it. It was mid-December and I was still missing the one thing I needed to graduate…an internship. I needed to find one by the end of the semester or the next year (2011) would be eerily similar to the last, frustrating, stressful, uncertain. The stress continued to beat me down mercilessly to the point where I couldn’t take it and I did what I should have done throughout the experience, I prayed and by golly, He met me there. I felt calm for the first time in a long time. And lo and behold, just a short week or two later, I found an internship and things began to come together again.
Later on in Psalm 42, it reads “with people asking me all day long, ‘Where is your God?'” Well, have no doubt, that He’s right beside you, even in the darkest of times. After all, it’s always darkest before the dawn.