Saturday, March 27, 2010

To The Birthday Girl.

Once upon a time, I was a little baby freshman in college. Having read all of the Cosmogirl and Seventeen articles about making friends, becoming hugely popular, and having the best time of your life in college, I knew the path to success -- get involved. So I did. I looked into about three million campus events, it seemed like, signed up for organizations that I never actually attended [but still receive the club emails] and organized a semi-not-so-successful dorm cookie night every week. My favorite part, though, was YoungLife. Besides the fact that I was a freshman and new so a.) all of the boys were older and b.) all of the boys were cute, [I was obviously in heaven] they did this weekend retreat in September or October -- and I love those. It's the perfect venue for how loud and obnoxious I am, because I REALIZE that I'm annoying at first, but when you spend a WEEKEND with me, you get to see pieces of the less ridiculous part of me, or at least enough to hint that that side might exist, so it piques people's interests and suddenly VOILA! I have friends... or at least I think I do.

Anyway, we were playing those weird bonding games, like variations on freeze tag and blindfolded kickball and ultimate frisbee, and suddenly we were handed towels and instructed to play
beach volleyball... it's basically newcomb with towels and you catch the ball and then try to catapult it back over the net with varying degrees of success. I looked around, searching for one of the seven older boys I had been talking to through the course of the night, when a girl walked up to me. She had crazy, curly hair, tinted orange in what I would later learn was not her natural color, but a freak dye job. Her wrists were covered in braided bracelets and concert wristbands and she had chipped nailpolish on her fingers. "Hey," she said abruptly. "Want to be my partner?" It wasn't really a question, but I was okay with that.

I don't remember much more of Allison specifically from that weekend (I was too busy flirting with boys and making sure that everybody heard me at all times), but that moment sparked a friendship unlike any other in my life. Allison and I started as very superficial friends -- the kind whose Facebook wall to wall looks like this:

Carly: Ah, you disappeared tonight!! I hope you had fun...have a fabulous Wednesday!
Allison: I know! I was so distracted! I meant to go back inside, but I forgot. :)
Carly: Hmph. Miss you. Being home is fabulous/sucky, because I feel like I'm missing out on EVERYTHING!!
Allison: So you are pretty much my love :)
Carly: No no no no...YOU are MY love. Dinner was fun -- we'll have to do it again ASAP. See you today, I'm sure. ♥

I mean, we meant what we said, but we had no real understanding of each other -- there was very little depth to our relationship at that point. Not to mention the fact that we were ANNOYING, but that's another issue entirely.

Then we went on Spring Break to Houston. It was an ugly time in both of our lives; we were working through self-created messes and it seemed [from my perspective, at least] that we were the only other person who had at least the tiniest inkling of how the other felt. It's funny, because just as Allison told me that she had sworn off close friendships with girls, I resolved to be that in her life. Literally, this is how the conversation went:

Allison: I never want a "best friend" again.
Carly: *in my head* Fine. But I'm going to disregard that statement and win. Bahaha.

Long story short -- we both won. Allison has a place in my heart that no one else will every occupy, and to say that I'm thankful for our friendship is the understatement of the year. She is unique and beautiful and giving in her own way. She has a heart for Jesus and a passion to help those who hurt. She fights for what she loves and is not afraid to be wrong when she's seeking truth. She speaks in accents and loves [shopping, not working at] Target and seeing movies instead of doing homework. She hardly ever skips class, but always texts me when she does, because she knows how proud I am of her negligence. She lets me read out loud to her and she shares her writing with me. We wear each others' clothes, eat each others' food, sleep in each others' rooms, laugh with each others' sisters, and in such, we have become sisters ourselves.

I have watched Allison grow and change closer and closer into the woman that God wants her to be over the last three years. The girl I met on the volleyball court freshman year is a distant memory, replaced by a confident, maturing woman. It's been an amazing transformation, and it is far from complete.

I love you, Allison. Happy Birthday!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Against All Odds

I love the moments that fall together, that connect the millions of seemingly random occurrences in our daily lives, that remind us that there is a Plan for how things are going to go. Those moments where the stars align or our eyes are opened or the light turns on in our brain, and for one brief, shining instant, we know peace.

I love that peace is not relegated to those fleeting moments for those who know Jesus, for those who continue to choose to believe, against all odds, that He somehow works all things together for good for those who love Him, for those who understand how small and inconsequential we are, yet how huge and real He is. This knowledge stems from deep within, from something that nobody can truly define, only acknowledge. I don't know how things work, but I know that they do. I don't know where faith comes from, but I know that it is there. I don't know why He chooses to concern Himself with my little life, but I know that He has and that He does and that He will forevermore.

I love that I can look to the past and see the way that He has carried me through, the way that things actually do line up against all odds, the way that somehow, miraculously, in a way that is the antithesis to coincidence, I find myself strangely prepared for what life brings about. I don't always recognize the training, the preparation, and I rarely have the foresight or wisdom to see it for what it is, but in retrospect, it shines. It glows. It pulsates, loud and neon and obvious for anyone who has eyes -- there was a Purpose. There is a Purpose. We are not in vain.

And so, because I can look at the things that were, the times when it seemed like nothing was happening, the times when it seemed like I was on my own or that I had to make the big decisions by myself or that everyone else in my life jaunted off on incredible adventures while I wasted away in a small, boring, inconsequential life only to realize that Jesus had a plan all along, because I can see this track record of faithfulness and goodness and love, I will continue to choose to believe. I don't feel like it, to be frank. I don't feel like waiting quietly, like hoping and praying for just a little bit longer when it seems like the past few months have been so fruitless, but I'm going to. I don't feel like hanging on to this string of hope, like clinging to this precariously small lifevest of faith, because I feel like I'm going to sink. But that's just it -- moments like this will one day become the instance from the past that remind of God's unending promises. Discouragement becomes a matter of a timeline, and I refuse to let my nearsighted perspective pull me from what God has for me. God is good. He is faithful. I choose to live in that hope.

II Corinthians 4:18: So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but one what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.