It started off with people coming out of the woodwork. Walking up to the apartment, all I could see was a handful of people (which is what I was expecting for the night), but once I walked in and people saw the new kid (me) it was a blur of smiling faces, handshakes, hugs, and super frosted amazing Christmas cookies. What could have been an insanely intimidating situation, immediately turned into the coziest apartment full of genuine people.
I’ve been in search of a bible study a lot this year. I was raised very Catholic, my family comes from a tiny mountain town that revolves around the Catholic religion. Growing up, I was skeptical of my beliefs and too self centered to really pay attention while attending church every Sunday. But the older I get, the more I see myself connecting to God, depending on him, and craving him. He helps me escape the anxieties of my life, pushes me to understand the fears of my life, and blesses me at every new morning of my life. There’s so much about religion and God I didn’t (care to) understand when I was growing up. I was in this sheltered little bubble where all I wanted to do was read my books, write my stories, and play with the neighborhood kids. God wasn’t on my mind, even though all three of those things are blessings – I’m blessed to love to read, have the creativity to write, and live in a neighborhood that had a good set of kids I could play with.
The older I get, the more I’m realizing my blessings and the closer I want to get myself to God. After my breakup in February I begged him to help me understand how something so incredible could end so badly. I begged him for the strength to get through it and the courage to move on if it was necessary. Like I mentioned in my last post, I didn’t realize the blessing W was to me. I met an a boy in a bar I didn’t intent to fall in love with. A boy that taught me what it’s truly like to feel loved and what it’s truly like to love someone in return. Nine months after the break up, I understood the blessing. I don’t understand the ending, I may never – but that’s His choice. I’ll learn it someday, maybe.
Months later, I met Jenna. We had one “study” night that ended up being five minutes of studying and fifteen minutes of girl talk. She knew I wanted to join a bible study, and that night I realized God gave me Jenna as a way to find Him. Because let’s face it, I was looking for a bible study on campus but I half assed it completely. He has helped me tons with my social anxieties, yet the thought of going to a bible study full of strangers was still unsettling. What if they try to change me? I don’t want to leave my Catholic faith, but I do want to join a Christian bible study. What if they don’t like me? Every school-kids nightmare. What if I don’t like them? I hate confrontation, I wouldn’t know how to leave. What if I never run out of what if’s?
Going with Jenna, on the other hand, encouraged me. Buddy system, people.
And finally I made it to my first bible study with Jenna. Again, it started off with an intimidating amount of smiling faces but those Christmas cookies definitely helped me settle right into a seat and immediately stuff my face with two. After all the introductions we all sat down and started something they called “fresh bread,” anyone that need a prayer – good, bad, and anything in between spoke up. That was when I first realized all these people genuinely cared about each other, the care in their eyes was real. We all linked hands and said an opening prayer to ask God to join us, but I think he was already there. He was there with all of us, you can feel it with the love in the room. After two from the group started sining, they were hymns (I’m assuming) that I’d only heard on TV or in movies (because I am Catholic and have only ever been to Spanish church – we have different songs, that I probably don’t know either…) when they got to Saving Grace though, I felt his presences all over again. To say I was fighting back tears is an understatement, everyone was singing. I (again) personally don’t know the song by memory, but the way everyone was singing made me really want to learn.
When the songs were over the study began, we went over Philippians 3:7-14 (I think, I was following along on the app but mainly listening/observing). While everyone spoke about their interpretations, how it relates to them, and/or what it means to them – I couldn’t help but truly listen. When I read “I press on,” (3:12) that’s exactly what I understood. I continued onto the next verse without critically thinking, but when the group went over it the meanings: forgetting what’s behind and fighting to continue forward, to learn of Him, to trust him and you learn from the past, but you don’t live in the past spoke to me. Living in the past builds a barrier against him, moving forward opens his doorway. Dwelling on the past forces him to have no room to work with you [on insecurities], heal you, and move you forward – two other explanations others understood.
I think I’ve rambled enough about how awesome my first bible study was. I think the simple fact that I felt so solid within myself…and complete when I walked out of there makes me want to study the bible even more. As much as possible. I want to let God fully into my life, which I know is going to be hard because I’m an OCD planner and my life revolves around His path and His plans. But with a 1,000 word post about bible study, I think I’ll be able to do it.