It’s the weekend after finals, and my life has never been more peaceful. Although I haven’t been able to write nearly as much as I’ve wanted to recently (studying for finals really is as time consuming as everyone says it is), I’m excited for these summer months where I’ll hopefully find more time to do what I love doing (ahem, writing).
There are a lot of changes coming to Off to Neverland (all good, don’t fret). As of now, Off to Neverland will no longer be an exclusive website all about Disneyland. *Gasps* I’ve realized during this semester of self-discovery (wow, since when did I become so deep?), that I have so much more I want to share with you than just my love for Disneyland. Disclaimer: I’m not saying that Disneyland is horrible and that my love for the place has decreased (in all actuality, my love for the park has only increased). I figured that I will be writing a lot more posts over the summer (praise God for more than one blog post a month!), and it will be a lot more enjoyable for me (as for you), if I write about more than my love for Walt’s park.
So from now on, you can expect posts on traveling, health, and my most anticipated section that I’ll be adding, spiritual enrichment! This past year has been so spiritually enrichening for me, and I’m bubbling over with excitement just thinking about writing some of what I’ve learned.
So without further ado, allow moi to dive into the very first spiritually enrichening topic: the power of trusting in the Big Man Upstairs. Trusting in Him is by far one of the hardest things for me (and I’m guessing it’s hard for you too, because honestly, how could that be an easy thing?). It should be a breeze to trust in Him, after all, He knows the best for us; He knows our whole story while we only know select chapters of our story. But, for me at least, it’s so difficult to trust Him when I have a different idea in my head of what He wants for my life. If you didn’t already know this about me, I’m a huge advocate in planning. I plan everything (trips to Disneyland, meals I’ll be eating that week, workout routines, you name it). And if somehow my schedule gets off-track, I feel derailed and scatterbrained and to put it lightly, a mess. Typically, I’m not a spontaneous person, so getting off-track from my plan is pretty detrimental to my day.
That’s why it’s so hard for me to trust in the Lord, because I’m scared that his plan will be different from mine, and that it will throw me off-track. I’ve come to realize this past year that it’s silly to be afraid, because like I’ve said, He knows what’s best.
Allow moi to give you a real life example that will hopefully solidify the importance of trusting in Him. Imagine this, it was my first day of college (wow I’m an old fart, already reminiscing about my first year of college). I was pretty depressed to say the least, because I had just come from my public speaking class, and I realized that public speaking was not my forte (I should have figured that out before signing up for the class). I decided to walk to my favorite part on campus, where I planted my butt below a huge pine tree and wallowed in my fears of delivering four speeches that would serve as the entirety of my grade for the class. I was just thinking how my life, as I knew it was over, when all of a sudden I heard someone calling my name.
So I jerked my head up to see one of my high school friends running towards me with open arms. I hadn’t seen her in a while, so what are the odds that we’d run into each other like this? We sat and talked until her next class and somewhere in that short time, she asked me if I was going to the informational meeting for a sorority at the Newman Center on campus. I was reluctant to even go to the informational meeting; I wouldn’t know anyone and generally, I act like an awkward weirdo when I’m around stranger. I told her my concerns and she proceeded to tell me that they weren’t valid concerns, because a) she was going to the meeting and b) because she knew I didn’t act completely weird around strangers (which was sweet of her to say).
She left my feeling rejuvenated. Maybe not so rejuvenated that I could take on public speaking, but rejuvenated enough to finish my day and meet up with her later at the meeting. I’m not going to lie; I was a nervous wreck walking up to the Newman Center for the first time. I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing there. Of course I knew I’d eventually make it to the Newman Center for weekend mass, possibly for the occasional daily mass, but I never thought I’d be going there on my first day of college, not even going there for mass, but for a sorority meeting!
Now, you’ll be interested to know that I rushed and joined the sorority (shout out to all of my glorious sisters! Much Mu Ep love!). Rushing Mu Ep forced me to step outside of my comfortable comfort zone and to get more involved at the Newman Center. I attended a Bible study every week and went to Newman Nights on Thursdays for a night full of free food (what college student would turn down free food?) and spiritual growth. At this point, Newman was just a part of my life that I still felt a little uneasy and unsure about because most of the people I’d encounter were still strangers.
Come second semester of college, that all changed. I felt myself slowly letting my guard down. My sorority sisters started feeling more like my biological sisters, and I built lifelong relationships with the other glorious people there. The Newman Center became my whole life instead of a part of my life. I spent roughly 87% of my free-time at Newman, either visiting my homie, Jesus, in the chapel, attending daily mass or various events, or goofing off upstairs with all of my new friends (where I always intended to do my homework but that never happened).
The Newman Center is a rare place where I feel completely comfortable. I don’t even think twice about the way I act or what I say or how I present myself because I’m 100% genuine and 100% myself; they like the real me that I was always too scared to express. These strangers have quickly become my family. And just like when I’m around my biological family, I never want to leave my Newman Center family when I’m there. Being at Newman, I’m really embracing the Kirsten God made me to be, and I’m starting to see why God gave me all of these unique quirks.
For the majority of my life, I thought that my friends, teachers, and classmates didn’t know the true me because I was hiding. But at Newman, I feel absolutely free. My relationships at Newman will last a lifetime because these relationships are rooted in Christ. All this time I’ve felt alone in my faith, but little did I know where God would lead me!
I’ve always said that Disneyland was my second home. There, I could be my weird Disney self without being judged. But truly, being myself is more than just showing my Disney side. It means that I let God speak through me and that I speak His truth and that I become the best version of myself who He created to be. The Kirsten I am in Disneyland is only a part of me, but the me I am at Newman is the authentic 100% all of me. At Newman, my Disney side, goofy side, compassionate side, and God-loving side merge and become one.
I wonder how different my life would be if I chose not to sit under the pine tree my first day of college, if I hadn’t run into my high school friend and she hadn’t told me about the sorority meeting. It just shows that the little moments in life, lead up to the big moments, and that God really does know what He’s doing. I was so scared to come to college, that I was too shy to get involved and that I’d be friendless. All I had to do was surrender, give it to Him, and let Him work in my life. And let me tell you, although His plan might not be what you’re imagining, His plan surely is unexpected and worth it. I never expected to find a place like the Newman Center, but with Him, it was possible.
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