Hi friends. It’s been a while again. Lemme catch you up on the whirlwind that is my life.
So I finished my freshman year of college! WOO. It was an absolute blast and I appreciate every moment of it. I had some pretty high highs and some pretty low lows, but I am so thankful that life is a rollercoaster and not a trolley. Without low lows, the highs wouldn’t be so amazing and thrilling. Change can’t happen without pain. It’s like working out–in order to build those muscles, you’re going to have some pretty sore days. But once that soreness fades, you can feel and see the change in your appearance and it feels AMAZING. Isn’t the heart like that, too? Those trials in life are like an insane workout that’ll leave you sore for a while, but the soreness won’t last forever. Once it fades, you’ll feel a change and you’ll feel stronger and it will feel EVEN MORE AMAZING. That happened to me in ways I never thought possible these past 9 months of college. Remember my last (kinda vague) post about vulnerability? Well, that bandaid was ripped off more than once and IT FELT AMAZING. To ugly cry in front of people as I pour out the pain and struggles of life and how God has so mightily worked on my heart this year was the most refreshing thing I’ve ever done. To have a community of friends who hug you and cry with you and who praise the One who gives our hearts a dang good workout is such a gift.
Probably my favorite memory of freshman year happened in the week before finals. Early on in the school year, my campus ministry does this thing called “Freshman Connection” where all the freshman in all the different bible studies come hang and get to know each other and worship together. At the end of the year, we freshman decided to get together on Landis Green the Friday night before finals to talk about the ways that God had worked in our lives over the course of freshman year. Like, dang. It was INCREDIBLE. We talked about struggles we came into college with and how God used those to strengthen our hearts and draw us to Him. There were a lotta tears, a lotta vulnerability, and I’ve never experienced such a beautiful picture of community as we prayed over each other and our summers and the incoming freshman class. God is so, so, so, so good, y’all.
So let’s bring it back to the ups and downs topic. I wanna tell you a story. Bear with me, I may jump around but hopefully it’ll all tie together in the end. Welcome to my brain.
So coming into college, I had what seemed like an unfixable health issue with my gut that was triggered by huge amounts of stress in my life that compounded over a few years. I was depressed as heck. Like didn’t want to get out of bed. I sobbed randomly throughout the day. I actually remember saying through a blur of tears, “I feel like there’s no point in getting up. I feel like I’m in a hole that I can’t get out of. I’m losing hope.” I’m just gonna say it straight up. The stress of life had literally worn holes in my intestines–like actual holes–so all that toxic crap (again, literal) that’s supposed to exit the body was stuck in there (aka I was hecka constipated you’re welcome), with nasty toxic waste escaping into my bloodstream.
I actually wrote a research paper on the gut-brain connection in the first semester of freshman year because I knew there had to be something related. Turns out, 90% of serotonin production happens in your gastrointestinal tract and is transmitted to the brain through the vagus nerve. The Latin meaning of vagus is “wandering;” the vagus nerve connects the brain to all of your visceral organs (i.e. your GUT). Ever wonder why certain foods make you feel a certain way? Well, that’s why. You have good and bad bacteria in your gut. When the bad overpowers the good, serotonin production is inhibited. I had a hecka lot of bad bacteria in my gut with all that toxic crap in my gut (this had been going on for 3 years, mind you, and that junk wasn’t movin to fast…).
Needless to say, I was a little afraid to go to college. What was my biggest fear? That I wasn’t gonna be able to go to the bathroom. No joke, you can laugh (like for real, laughing is good for you). I’m not even kidding you, for 3 years not a day went by that I didn’t worry about not being able to go. I was afraid I was gonna sink back into that hopeless depression that I went through over the summer.
Let me tell you something. I genuinely have no other explanation for this other than God. All the anxiety and stress of family life and school and health issues that I thought I could never shake was almost immediately washed over by this ginormous wave of peace that is absolutely nothing of this world. Certainly not of my character at all–if you could tour my brain you’d be like, “dang girl how do you even find anything in here?” I’m all freaking over the place. Peace is not something I can just make myself feel. And here this peace was–completely not what I was expecting. And can I tell you something? I was going to the bathroom (no shame anymore, y’all. I say it like it is). My gut was healing after these long years. Depression? Lifted. I felt lighter than I had in years (I mean emotionally, but I mean I guess I could say physically too–sorry for the TMI). But for real, I was walking through life with pep in my step. Life had this new enthusiasm.
A couple weeks ago, I was reading through John in one of my favorite coffee shops in Tallahassee (shout out to Black Dog cafe you rock) and I came across this verse:
John 5:2-9–Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie–the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me get into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The invalid thought the best that could happen to him was to at least get into the pool to help ease his pain–he was willing to settle for that. He probably never in his life thought that he’d be completely healed. He probably thought that was impossible. But Jesus does the impossible. Jesus simply says, “get up, pick up this mat, and walk.” And he walks.
This past year, I never in my life thought that so much growth and healing would happen in my life. Quite frankly, I didn’t think it was possible. I thought I was too far from healing. But Jesus is unrelenting in His pursuit of my heart. That Peace I felt was for a reason–that was Jesus telling me the Truth that healed and is healing me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Get up, pick up your mat, and walk. Watch Him do something that’ll blow your mind.