There has been SO much going on in my life right now! Let me give you a brief snapshot of what all is happening in good ole Knoxville, TN.
Two weeks ago I took some very important ASL (American Sign Language) proficiency exams. These exams would enable me to graduate on time (as apposed to waiting another semester and taking the classes I was trying to be exempt from). Well, I got the results yesterday and I got A's on both of the exams! I was trying to test out of ASL level 3 and ASL level 4 (basically 3rd and 4th semester of ASL classes at the college level). This now means that I have 17 units (they call them "credit hours" here in TN; we call them "units" on the west coast...) to take next (spring 2012) semester plus 12 units to take over the course of summer school (yikes!!) This means tons of work and probably hearing the words "deaf", "hearing", "linguistics", and "English" more than I would ever care to hear! Nonetheless, I am so thankful for my education! My grandparents (on my dad's side specifically, but both sides of grandparents highly value education) really supported the idea that all of their grandkids go to college. They set up a trust fund for me and I have been so blessed to have my grandparents (and parents) pay for my college! It has been a long road (to be suuuuure!) that has literally lead me across country in search of my BS degree, but I almost have it!
Once I passed these exams, the finality of "senior year" began to sink in for me. This semester I am in a fiction/creative writing class. It is always interesting for me to see what my classmates have going on in their lives by reading their short stories/assignments. Let me just say; its frightening. I go to a secular, major university (UTK) and I feel the non-Christian environment around me daily. You would think that being in "belt buckle of the Bible-belt", as some people like to call Knoxville, there would be more hope and more light being spread. The other day I heard a girl say "This is God's country here in TN!" and I couldnt help but laugh.
I feel like I am growing up. I am making my own choices. I am free to be whomever I want to be. Especially with my family/parents so far away, I feel like I dont have anyone to be accountable to. Yesterday I decided I wanted to go shopping. (I love to shop! ...especially at thrift stores, but yesterday I stuck to the West Town Mall.) While I was walking into the mall, I looked at the movie theaters and thought "Gee, I wonder if I would like to go to the movies! Self, what do you think?" My Self reminded me that I am trying to (somewhat) save my money and that the stack of textbooks that I abandoned earlier in the day would be incredibly envious and give me a rough time if they knew I'd sneaked out to go to the movies. I decided against it. But you see, there was that freedom. No one would have cared if I went to the movies or not. No one would have told me I couldnt go and see a movie. On a more serious note, no one would have told me I couldnt walk into a bar, or go get a tattoo, or go do anything else that I could possibly think of.
It made me think (an action which I never can seem to get away from...especially on a long weekend like this). I began to think about the way I want to live my life. Who am I living for? What am I doing to myself by staying up all hours of the night pouring over textbooks about left and right hemispheres of the brain and gestural languages and communication?
Sometimes my life becomes so overwhelming and when I think of all the hurt I see in the lives of people around me, I understand why college kids turn to drinking so much. Sometimes I think it *would* be easier (way easier) to take a swig of this or than and make reality disappear for a few hours. But then what? Then you wake up in a state where you are worse off. Your reality still haunts you and you now have a splitting headache no thanks to your silly attempt to escape reality. You have to face your life at some point in time. If you dont think you do, please just go ask some of the women who wound up in the halfway house I worked at. Go and ask the 20 year old girls we saw in Amsterdam selling themselves in the Red Light District. Go and talk to people who have acted brashly and in the moment who are now locked up for the next 25 years.
...doesnt sound too promising, does it?
With the day and age that I live in (we all live in) where your life is instantly archivable and instantly changeable (- think about it: Facebook makes it SO easy to post and share your life in. the. moment. and it also makes it so that you can go back and edit out photos you dont want people to see-), you are constantly on display. You can feel hurt one minute and be flying of the handles and then the next day simply tell someone you are sorry. Our lives are public! I dont think people understand the significance of the idea that whatever you are feeling or doing or seeing can be shared *internationally* with any other of the 6-point-something billion other people on this planet.
THINK, folks. Think.
Your actions eventually get around. Your secrets come out. Your lives get exposed one Facebook picture at a time.
This week has been really, really rough (emotionally). There has been so much school work to do that I can barely remember what it felt like just two months ago to have nothing to learn about; to have nothing to try to soak into my brain all for the sake of "learning". I dont like this kind of learning. I was homeschooled and its not the way homeschoolers learn. No wonder these kids at my university are sucked dry! They didnt have "History Dress-Up Days" where they ran around in homemade costumes out of Wal-Mart material fighting the Revolutionary war. I had it good; no, I had it great! The education my mother (and father...he helped a little bit too...) instilled in me and on me made the world come to life. She taught me the significance of books and stories and wholesome literature.
I know this is really long (I could go on for hours, really...) but there is a point.
For as lousey as this week has been and for as many lies that my heart and Satan have thrown at me this week, it doesnt really matter. A friend shared this youtube video of a (famous) Christian speaker named Louie Giglio that rocked my world! It talks about the cosmos and the great expanses of the universe and gives all these impressive scientific facts about how big the universe and stars are. The impressive part is this: Folks, we live in a world full of so much pain that it brings tears to my eyes to even think about how much pain is coursing through (my) so many hearts right now. Let me offer you a snippet of hope. Jesus is the Starbreather. You dont understand. He literally created the stars. Not only that, it was his idea to even have something called "star" in our reality. When you *really* put your life into perspective, and you look at your life, your one, small, meager, little life here on earth, you will begin to understand how glorious and magnificient God really is. Its hard to explain, so if you'd like to experience the awe of what I am talking about, go outside tonight and look at the stars (for those of you in CA, in the cities, I know they are in scarce supply, but take a drive to the beach) and just check out. Mentally, let go. See where your mind takes you. Think about you. Think about the stars. Think about the possibility of Jesus as the Starbreather; the one who out the universe into motion; into existence.
If that still doesnt convince you, check out this video. Its not overly "Christian"; in fact, its very scientific. The evidence of a God who is so powerful that he could flick us off the planet with as much ease as it takes to flick an ant off a picnic blanket is overwhelming, and humbling, to say the least.
Here is the lecture:
And here is the song of the day, How Great is Our God, by Chris Tomlin: