appreciation

Kali and I have been praying for appreciation of our program and this city, and continual awareness of the spirit to guide our thoughts and hearts to Him. And last Thursday, I gained a new appreciation for this big city grad school life.

Our starting point group met on our leader’s roof Wednesday night. We huddled in blankets and ate brownies and it was one of those moments that was immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). And, I saw stars. Nothing like the stars in Michigan or Evergreen, CO, but still, stars. At small group we talked about community, and barriers to community. We say we all want community, but what gets in the way? Time, insecurity, selfishness, ourselves. We get in the way– our thought patterns, our priorities, our moods. We talked about different themes we may identify with. Mine was self-protection, where it all comes back to identity and comparison. I’ve known recently all the areas where my worth and identity tends to lie when it isn’t rooted in Christ– running, grades, organization, productivity, decisions. I have a tendency to compare and be jealous of others, and this comparison causes me to do more. Specifically running. I’m realizing more
and more that I identify myself as a runner. When I hear someone else say “I love running”, my first thought might be “Well I’m sure they didn’t run in college, or I’m sure they don’t run that fast or that far. I probably run longer than them” Yikes. I like to be the runner that runs the longest and fastest and most. And why? I was talking to a classmate about this, how my identify tends to be in my mileage and distance and workouts, and the first thing she asked back was “What are you doing to work on that?”. Instead of just understanding, she agreed she does that too, and she challenged me to overcome it. She told me to focus in the internal attributes of running, such as being strong in Him, steadfast in Him, endurance in the faith, because He is all those things, and He is those things in me. I so appreciated her words of encouragement and challenge.

Why is it that in conversations about something were struggling with, its so good to hear “Me too”? Sometimes in class we say to each other how much we haven’t studied, maybe even just to hear that the other person hasn’t either. Why does someone else’s mutual unproductiveness make us feel better about ourselves, while someone else’s triumph in a certain are may makes us feel jealous, envious, or ungrateful? It’s little things like this that I’m realizing. And this all came to mind while on a long run the day after small group. Appreciation for small group and fellowship and opportunity to meet new people.

So much to think about, pray through, and keep stretching out. So much opportunity for God to transform, align, and make NEW in Him. And praises for that truth.

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Back to Chicago, and my day of smitten-ness with this big city. We all rode the bus together on Jen’s birthday, sitting in the sideways seats that face the water, with our backpacks and lunches and coffees. How many people have a commute by Lake Michigan in sideways seats? Appreciation for the CTA. We had an hour break in between classes where usually we would have studied, but it was a warm fall day, and Jen’s birthday, so we took a walk down Michigan avenue as they were putting up the fall decorations. Appreciation for going to grad school in a city.

Appreciation for where I’m at, the season I’m in, the prayers I’m praying, the ways I’m seeing and feeling God. Appreciation for learning more and more about myself, even when it’s hard to learn. Appreciation for the Lord’s patience with me to be still and listen when all I sometimes do is fly around in circles. Appreciation for fellowship and long runs and laughter.

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