There and Back Again, or, A Post about the In-Betweens of YYC and YVR

Hello friends! I woke up this morning realizing that I hadn’t posted for over three weeks. I am ashamed.

But seeing as this is the day to get back into the swing of things (well really, yesterday was, since I started lesson planning again) we might as well start off with a blog post. Or two. Or twenty.

Photo credit to EladeManu @ Flickr via Creative Commons

Indeed, there’re a lot of things I’ve learned this past year, especially in YVR, and while I’m not going to bore you with every detail (unless you want it, haha) here are some of the things I’d like to share.

In 2013…

I learned to respect authority.

One of the first things they told us in teacher education was that you should never speak poorly of a fellow teacher, whether that person be a classmate, a professor or even a teacher that you observed in your field practicum. Part of it has to do with common sense; if word gets round that you like to smack-talk your fellow-teaching buddies, then you wouldn’t have much of a good reputation yourself. The larger lesson that gripped me though was that this was about respect: respect for my own profession and respect for my fellow co-workers. My professors were really great people too and I learned to respect them because they brought real-life experience into our own training.

Then it struck me that even though I might respect my professors and classmates, I hadn’t been doing a very good job of respecting my parents. I still don’t do a very good job of that right now. I’ve been one to talk back to my parents, shout at them, get angry at them and generally be disobedient. The other thought that occurred to me while I was away from home was that I certainly wouldn’t do any of those things to my aunt and uncle (who I live with in YVR) but I had no hesitation about firing back a smart retort to my parents. Why should I treat my aunt and uncle better than my own parents?

Since coming home I’ve been trying to respect my parents more. The Bible tells me to honour my parents, to submit to them and to be respectful; all things that I have no problem doing with my professors and distant relatives, but things that I have yet to learn consistently with my own mum and dad.

… I learned to appreciate so much more the grace of God.

Photo credit to Rennett Stowe @ Flickr via Creative Commons

I haven’t told many people this but in October I was pretty depressed. I don’t think it was so much being homesick as being inactive in the church. Back in YYC I was used to leading a very active volunteer lifestyle especially when it came to helping out with the junior high kids at my local church. But not having any set place to serve in the new church I was in (LLC) I found myself feeling sort of lost. A friend suggested that maybe this was just the year to focus on my relationship with God, but I found that the more I read the Bible, the more I realized how short I fell of God’s standards. I’m not compassionate all the time, I’m not always kind, I’m not always loving, I’m certainly not self-controlled, I’m not constantly pure, I’m not really holy, and I don’t think about God enough in my waking hours. In fact, the more I read, the more depressed I became, and without any serving position in my church I felt like I wasn’t being a “good” Christian. I’d stop doing devotion for a week, then I’d feel bad and pick it up again, only to read that I didn’t measure up to God’s standards again.

Then one day Joy prayed for me, and she prayed that I’d realize that I didn’t need to earn God’s approval. And that’s when it clicked: that there really is nothing good or bad I can do to earn His love because God loves me, us, you, out of grace. I don’t deserve His love or forgiveness, because I fall short of His standards, but He loves me all the same. 

While I have realized that in truth, I am probably more sinful than I would like to admit, I have realized in tandem that God’s grace is more than I’ve previously acknowledged. The scenario that comes to my mind is similar to that of a kid throwing a bucket of paint on Queen Elizabeth, then being pardoned for his/her vandalism. A child might understand that he/she had done something wrong and needed to be pardoned, but then afterwards the child might not think about the incident. As an adult the child might be horrified in retrospect, having understood better who exactly he/she had offended with said paint bucket. In the same way I think we offend God greatly with our sins, and while He pardons us when we admit our sins and ask for forgiveness, it’s only as we spend time with Him that we understand better the depth of His love and the extent of His grace for us.

… I grew to appreciate the fellowship of my peers.

I can only say that since I joined Journey Fellowship in November, I’ve realized what I’ve forgotten: that fellowship with other university students is such a blessing. I’d forgotten what fellowship with my peers was, having been in FLOW the previous four years. There’s something wonderful about community with people in similar life situations that I still can’t express properly in words, but I am grateful nonetheless to the people at Journey nevertheless for having welcomed me into their midst.

—–

Welp, that’s it for now, folks. Until the next post (which should be soon, since I’ll be back in YVR for the better part of 2014), I hope you’ve all had a restful Christmas and New Year’s, and that you’ll find peace in this new year.

Love,

an.

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