I was sitting on the couch, reflecting on the past year.
My brother and I are both pharm students. He is finishing his last year. I still have one year and a half to go. Our common study field led us to move in together. Live together. Study for endless hours, together. While I would prepare the spaghettis, he would wash the dishes and we would chat about our day’s happenings. Nearly four years of university, with all the memories we’d created together, made us more than best friends.
And then came the time, last year, for my brother to leave for another town for a 6 month internship, followed by, this year, an internship of a year: he had to move the other end of the country so I rarely get to see him.
This year of loneliness taught me a lot about God, people, myself and things in general.
- I remember C.S Lewis once said something that goes like this: “In a sense, you are alone with God”. Gosh, Lewis was right. While my brother was here, I needed God. Now, as I am typing this post, alone in the room, I need God, more than ever. In a way, though human relationships are good and essential and even vital, they will never be a substitute for God. I once read a sermon by McCheyne titled “Human regarded but God despised” where he explained that often, we give great honor to our humans fellows while not giving God a single thought or a minute of our days. This year made me realize something: I need others. I really need them. But God comes first. And you know what ? I’ve also learned the following lesson the hard way:
When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed bu increased.”- CS Lewis
- How true is that ? How many times I have neglected God in order to invest more time and more energy into my relationships with others and things turned sour ? Because only God can teach true, selfless love, forgiveness, patience, forbearing, compassion.
- This year also taught me, and it is with lots of sadness that I am writing that, that often the motives of my actions were not as pure as I thought they were. Let me give you an example. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17). Alright. In lots of place in the New Testament it says to do everything for the Lord. It says “Rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. (Ephesians 6:7–8)” Many times I thought I was doing things for the Lord but the test came. When you meet a boss or coworker that does not respond to your “good deeds”, who is not grateful for all the pains you are taking to do your work the right way, when there is no one around to watch you and say “thank you”. What do you do, in that case ? Do you grumble, do you complain ? I know I did. Lots of time, in my heart, I thought it was not fair and one day, when I read those verses, I realized I was not seeing things with the right perspective. I began, more and more, to understand that under the pretext “I am not valued and acknowledge enough in my work” (at least in my case) was hiding a crave for praise and approval and admiration from others. I was not always doing the task out of “pure motives”. Instead of going to the Lord, I was craving high opinions of others about Stéphanie. So this year revealed to me, that as someone (guess who) said, “Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching.
- Prayer. I never realized I neglected prayer that much until that year. And how casually I treated prayer. One preacher once said, as he was speaking to a youth group, that young people love this “pray at all times, throughout the day” mode of prayer. (i.e, You are walking in the street ? Eating a burger ? Pray at all times !) yet they were not massive fans of the prayer time “mode” when you resolve to set aside a particular time “in your closet” in order to devote yourself to prayer. I am this kind of girl. For a lot of time, I would carry prayer as a snack, while waiting for the bus, before meals of course and when I was bored, and would say a few words in my head to thank God before going to bed. Lately at church, the pastor who preached gave his New Year resolution: since he is a dad of two kids and kids keep you very busy during the day, he resolved to wake up earlier and set a time for prayer and no matter what happened, this time was not for starting to do chores and whatnot but for prayer only. I thought it was a good idea.
- Lastly, Jesus-Christ is my Righteousness, not a concept, not an idea, not an ideal created by a human mind which we try to attain because being like Jesus will merely make you a good citizen… but no. He is our Righteousness. He is the Bread of Life, and I need it everyday just like I need to eat everyday. I need His words. I need him as an Advocate everyday. I need His love -my craving for validation by others often results from my lack of meditation of His love: The Son of God, the Creator of This World, The King of Splendor, came to die for me. Had his hands and feet pierced, for me. How dare I think I am not loved, how dare I think I am not cherished ? I need Him. He is the missing piece that solves the puzzle of my soul. Though human company is good, I need Jesus-Christ. Not a substitute of Him. I need Him.