I was having a chat with an old friend from campus the other day. Deep into the conversation he asked;
“What was up with you back then by the way? You looked super satisfied with life!”
I was taken aback. Me? Super satisfied? Ha!
(I think satisfied here would mean content, at peace)
Looking back, I would not say I was super satisfied with life, as he put it. I always had my plate full. Every semester, I would take the maximum number of credit hours allowed. This meant a lot of course work. The tuition fee was always a cloud hanging right above my head, and to ease things up for my folks, I took up the work study program which meant working for a couple of hours every week. The ‘salary’ I earned would go a long way in covering a certain percentage of the fee balance. Then there was basketball, which I like to say kept me sane. I would go to the court every week day evening at 5pm without fail. Tournaments and league games would take up most of the weekends. This while working at the campus radio station and trying to have a social life while at it.
I wasn’t complaining. I had reconciled with the fact that it was a lot, but it had to be done. My fear was that I thought I ‘looked’ like a wreck. I wanted to believe that I cleaned up well, but I was convinced that everyone could see right through me, only that they were too polite to mention it.
My prayer life wasn’t stellar, but I did have conversations with the father. I remember praying for strength, wisdom, peace of mind and most of all joy. Oh, and I loved this verse in Philippians, “I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me.” This alone barricaded any thoughts of giving in or a mental breakdown. There were times I prayed for the lecturer to get stuck in traffic so I could have the morning or afternoon off to sleep (Imagine this request was granted more times than I can count!) Oh of the times I began praying at night only to wake up with an Amen in the AM! Then there were times I would go for days on end without what I like to call structured prayers. Thank God for ‘The Grace’ prayer that stood in the gap. Prayer was done conveniently to suit the state of mind and body, rarely the soul. I know better now.
So for four years, I worked and hustled my way to my undergraduate degree. It was a beautiful roller coaster. Sometimes I look back and thank God that phone cameras were not as advanced and therefore the urge to constantly take photos was suppressed. Man! The evidence against me would have been super incriminating…I think.
Let me just tell you now, God is amazing…
…and his timing is perfect.
“Don’t know about being satisfied. God is so good. He probably clothed me like that to protect me.” I answered him.
Just like that, God, at a time when I was having certain feelings of inadequacy reminded me why He is shalom. WhiIe I worried about my outward appearance and how people perceived me, He was at work, clothing me with radiance and contentment. He caused others to see confidence and purpose. Come to think of it, even in times when I felt like I was crumbling, there was someone near me to attend to the very need I had. I found people I could laugh with. People who would have probably been put off if it were not for the robe of peace and joy that God had elegantly draped over my shoulders and zipped tight.
What a revelation!
Ladies, you know when we are obsessing about a solitary pimple somewhere on our faces and someone tells you, “Eh! You are glowing!” Most of us, instead of the good ol’ thank you, will likely point out to that pimple and ask the person if they did not see it before they gave the compliment. God causes people to marvel at your glow, but you won’t let yourself prosper. You just have to bring up that flaw you think will dim that light you are radiating. Self – sabotage…
Here is some encouragement for you as you swim through this week’s waters, God is listening. He heard you yesterday when you shouted for help. Today, when you said thank you for prayers answered, he heard that too! You don’t have to say complex prayers or speak in tongues. Psalms 119:80 “Let my heart be sound (sincere and wholehearted and blameless) in your statutes, that I may not be put to shame.” I love these prayers that David made, recognizing that we can be so inadequate but since Jesus ushered us into the reign of grace, it is definitely sufficient in our walk of faith. I think it is pretty refreshing that we can be naked before God, as we can’t with man, as the father ‘covers’ for us on the outside. It is important that you read God’s word. It offers such a sweet reassurance that He is the custodian of all that we need; peace from the prince of peace, strength from the lion of Judah, joy in his presence and sanctuary, and so forth. Talk to Him, and when you can’t, let your heart remind Him of ‘your stock chats,’ of promises made. You might not even see or feel it, but God’s unconditional, unbelievable, undeniable, indescribable love is present; shielding and clothing you. You will wear that gown with the dignity and confidence it deserves and demands. You will not make any justifications for it, because there is none; only unmerited favor.