When I came to college I was filled with dreams of the stage. I auditioned for a departmental production my first semester and received a small speaking/singing role. Soon I was absorbed. I spent hours discussing the art of acting, went to shows to study other actors, and received praise from upper classmen and professors about my acting ability. My happiness was only skin deep. Inside I felt empty.
My dad used to tell me that,even if the set and all were to fall down around my ears, the show must go on. So it did…on or off stage. Lonely and dissatisfied, I attended parties to find a place to fit in, but misery lurked behind my smile. Watching my classmates, I realized that we never stopped pretending. I didn’t know lasting satisfaction so I spent my time acting out other people’s dreams.
That same semester I began to meet with Christians on Campus. I spent one hour every Thursday reading the book of John with a couple of sisters. At first I thought that we were just reading a book like any other book, but I soon realized that the Bible is more than ink on paper. In 1 John 1:1 it is called “the Word of life” which means that the Word is life. It is even “a river of water of life” (Revelation 22:1). Although I was unaware of it, this life slowly began to reshape my being and replace my love for many things.
An uneasy feeling regarding the theater started to grow in me until one night in anger I told the Lord that if He didn’t want me to continue acting then He would have to make me hate it. Eventually, anything related to my major put a bitter taste in my mouth, and I dropped it, to the dismay of peers, professors, and family. Then a small feeling began to nudge me to study elementary education. I had some acting ability, but very little experience with children. No matter how irrational I thought this feeling was, I could not make it go away. I was sure I had gone crazy the day I marched into the education department to declare a new major. Outwardly, I was afraid that I would never be able to handle a classroom, but inside I was full of peace.
Eventually I got an apartment with some friends from Christians on Campus. At the beginning of the new school year we set apart an hour once a week to pray together. We spent a lot of time talking, laughing, crying, and singing, but it was our praying that most strengthened my relationship with my roommates and the Lord. Soon an hour wasn’t long enough to contain our prayer and it spilled over into my daily life.
As an education student I was required to volunteer at an elementary school every Tuesday. Oh, how I dreaded Tuesdays. The kids were wild, and I was frustrated. These differing dispositions did not make for a pretty picture. One day I crossed my arms against my chest and defiantly told the Lord that I was not going to school. My head was suddenly filled with a dozen reasons to be with those kids. Driving to the school I told the Lord, “Today I’m not going. Today You have to go for me. Christ lives in me, so, Lord, go in my going.
That day Kimberly, a kindergartener, picked up two sticks, held one on top of the other so that together they formed a cross, and said, “This is how Jesus died.” Shocked, I replied, “Yes, that is how Jesus died.” Then, pointing at the sky, she said, “Jesus is up there. I wish that He would come visit me.” Inside I was screaming, “He can come visit you, and once He does He will never leave you,” but I kept my mouth shut. A thousand thoughts raced through my mind. The classroom teacher was hovering nearby. I racked my brain trying to remember what the law said about speaking the gospel in public schools. Did I want to risk getting in trouble? I had waited too long to respond, and Kimberly loudly exclaimed, “Jesus is God!” Grinning from ear to ear, I forgot my worries and said, “Yes, Jesus is God.
Jesus did visit Kimberly that day. He visited her through me (2 Corinthians 5:20). Volunteering didn’t get any easier, and I am still apprehensive about becoming a teacher, but He knows the path I need to follow. Even when I think I am surely lost, He is still leading (Romans 8:14). I don’t understand His ways, but His love causes me to follow Him.