The following is a passage I wrote in my journal almost exactly 5 years ago, on July 30, 2008:
"I think one of the reasons I'm drawn to Jesus is because He offers peace. True and lasting peace of mind and heart, in a world that knows all too much fear and chaos and disorder. He offers real and perfect peace. Once you experience it, you will know it is supernatural. Nothing in this world could manufacture the kind of peace I experience every day by knowing Christ. It is a peace about my past, present, and future, a peace about my relationships, and a peace about myself. It is this peace that authoritatively demands that fear flee from my heart and mind. It is a comfort, a wholeness, a security, a wellness that runs deeper than flesh and bone. It is the knowledge that God has a purpose and good plans for my life, and that I have riches beyond compare waiting for me in heaven someday and need not fear death. I do not fear life or death. Because Jesus is always there. I don't go through anything that He isn't experiencing right beside me, holding my hand. I do not know what will happen in my future--not 5 years from now, not tomorrow. But God does, and more importantly, He is already there. Time means nothing to God--He is already present in my future, in a thousand tomorrows. Scripture says that He goes before me and fights for me. I can be strong because I am deeply loved by God."
Pretty wise words from 19-year-old me, if I do say so myself. I hadn't re-read or thought about that journal entry in ages, and then I picked it up a couple days ago. It almost gave me chills to read my proclamation then that God would be present IN my future, 5 years from that time, even though I didn't know what my life would look like then--and then to re-read this and realize that, exactly 5 years after I wrote these words, on my last day at a very tough job, God was, in fact, totally THERE. In 2008, God was present in the future I hadn't even experienced yet, in my thousand tomorrows. And I can say now exactly what I said then--I have been able to be strong this summer and in these experiences because I am deeply loved by God. His strength has upheld me and supported me every step of this journey.
And I'm a big believer that God doesn't waste anything--no experience in our lives gets wasted, and there is no trial and no frustration or stress that He doesn't use to work good in our lives. Not a single tear we shed or a single moment of brokenness that we face goes to waste. The pain and difficulties we encounter in our lives are ultimately worth it because we serve a God who brings beauty out of the brokenness and flowers out of the ashes.
That's all a really long and descriptive way to say that I've ultimately been incredibly blessed this summer, in the long run, and I've already seen how the Lord has used my job-related struggles and frustrations this summer for good. For one, I've gained a ton of much-needed confidence. I've learned how to do a lot of things that I would have previously thought were impossible, and faced a lot of fears, and that has been so completely empowering. I've learned what kind of treatment I will, and will not, put up with in the workplace, and that in and of itself is a valuable lesson that I'll take with me into the future. I've loved the actual work I've done, and it's confirmed all the more that law is 100% what I want to do with my life and how I want to make an impact on the world (well, law and writing--but I hope I can always do both). And I've developed very strong friendships with most of the attorneys and the office staff at work--real friendships, friendships that are a lot deeper than most of the friendships my classmates have made with the attorneys at their offices this summer. We're talking about the kind of friendships where we text and Gchat almost every day, where we get together for dinners/ girls' nights/ shopping/ you name it, etc. I love all of them--they've helped me make it this summer, and I know every one of them has my back as I look for a permanent job for after graduation. I'm blessed to have gotten to know each of them, and I feel like they're in my life for a reason.
So I've been blessed. Yes, there are some parts of my life that need to get pieced back together after this summer. Yes, my self-esteem is shot at the moment, for obvious reasons, and I have some residual anger (and tears) over the way I was treated this summer that need to get released. I'm in rest and recovery mode right now, trying to really treat myself right and relax for these next two weeks before school starts. I've spent the summer taking care of everything and everyone else, and so now I'm taking the time to take care of me. It hasn't been easy for one second, but I know that God has been with me every step of the way.