Help my Unbelief

So I talk a lot about the fact that I am a Christian on my blog, but I haven’t talked much about my experience as a Christian or about God. And I think it’s time to change that. And for me, at least right now, that goes hand in hand with a story about my semester.

So, it’s September of this year, right? (Not right now, I’m using this as a way to tell my story.) And I’m at school, I’m an RA, I’m taking cool classes, I’m a small group leader. Everything’s going great. And I go to this worship thing that was part of a prayer event on campus. I didn’t stay long, and I don’t remember most of what happened that evening. But I do remember this: I was praying, and something inspired me to say, “God, break me. Break everything that I trust in, so that I can trust in you instead.” And then, you know, I left soon after that. And I don’t remember when I started noticing the consequences of that prayer, but boy, did they come.

One of the smaller issues was waking up in the morning. I’ve always been very good about hearing my alarm and getting out of bed in a decent amount of time. I started sleeping through my alarms, even after I made them as loud as possible. And this wasn’t a big deal, but it did raise some questions about my health and whatnot. I think I’m just sleep deprived. Even this morning, I woke up 15 minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off and then fell back into a deep enough sleep that I didn’t even hear my alarms go off. So that’s an interesting issue, and we’ll see what happens next.

My freshman dorm.

My freshman dorm. 

A bigger issue was loneliness. I went from having the great freshman dorm experience, with all of my best friends living just down the hall to living in a single for the first time in my life really, with my friends scattered across campus and even off campus. And that didn’t bother me for a while, but then it started becoming a problem. I felt so isolated in the room I have to myself. I don’t usually mind eating alone, but I felt like it was becoming a habit, a habit that I didn’t enjoy. One night was so bad that I just flung myself on the floor and cried. Soon after that, I went to the campus Counseling Center because I wanted to figure out if I have a form of social anxiety or not. And the counselor I talked to said to me, “Well it sounds like belonging is your real issue here.” And I know belonging is an issue for me. I’ve written about it. But to hear it from someone else’s words… It was an emotional time.

But I’m okay now, and I still don’t know exactly what has changed. I think it’s probably a lot of small things, like talking to people more and being more intentional with my faith. I think a good part of it is that I’m going more out of my way to help my friends. And maybe they have more problems, maybe it just feels more out of the way, or maybe I’ve just taken this role on. But I love it. I love being able to serve them and love them. And I’m not saying that to make myself look good. I’m just in a position to care for people right now. One day, I’ll need them to care for me. And that’s okay. And I tell them to let me know if they’re not doing well, which makes me reflect on my own actions this semester. Because in the depths of my loneliness, I wanted people to just know I was having problems and come help me, but that’s ridiculous. So I’m trying to get better about telling people when I have problems the way I ask them to tell me.

More recently, I’ve had issues with academics. Organic Chemistry II is really hard, guys. I thought I was going to do well because I’m good at memorizing. But everything looks the same, and I did not do well keeping on track of things at the beginning of the semester. And now my grades are starting to show. Just the other week, I got a midterm back. It was embarrassing how terribly I did. Really. And I don’t want to write that on this blog that so many of my friends and a good number of strangers will see. But I want to be honest, and that’s the honest truth. I’m ashamed, really. And when I got my grade back, I felt like a failure. I questioned my career goals and my abilities as a student and so much in my life.

So I got that grade back two Fridays ago, right? And I was still feeling pretty down about it at the beginning of last week. And then came Wednesday. I have small group on Wednesday, the small group that I lead. And that has also been an interesting story because for several weeks at the beginning of the year, I didn’t have anyone coming to my weekly Bible studies. And that was discouraging, and it made me question whether I should have been doing it in the first place and whatnot. And then people started coming. Last week, I had four people. And we had an awesome discussion. Really, it was so good. And I was grinning afterwards, because it made me that happy. Two of the girls actually texted me and told me that it was great. And it’s not because of me. They’re all just really comfortable with each other, so conversation comes easily, and they’re not afraid to share about their lives.

And now I’m finally bringing this story back to God. Because it was God that did this good work. It was God who was with me when I picked out the passage, where a father says to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!” It was God who brought each of those girls that night and inspired conversation. It was God who was faithful. God took this thing that wasn’t working and showed me that20150626_195502 He can make something beautiful out of it. When my life is going well, it’s because God made it that way. And when my life isn’t going well, I can still point to His faithfulness throughout my life. I can say, “Well, Orgo isn’t going well, and I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen with it. But God was faithful with small group and in so many other parts of my life, so He will be faithful with Orgo. He will put me where I need to be.” And there will be days when I doubt. There will be days when faith isn’t easy. There will be days when I try to find security in my abilities instead of in the God who provides. There will be days when I say, “God, I don’t understand what you’re doing.” But He is good, and He will bring me through.

Epylle Spydre

Dear Incoming Freshmen

Dear freshmen,

Greetings! Wherever you are going to school, I hope you feel welcome there already. You may have already moved in, or 11891163_1062086420468140_1429134503368646281_nyou may have yet to move in. But I wanted to write this to you to give you some of my advice.

Congratulations on getting through the craziness of high school and the college application process (also know that I am not trying to exclude those of you who aren’t going to college–most of this will apply to you as well). Now you’re starting this new step in your life, and I’m sure you’re excited and nervous and twenty million other emotions all at once. There are many things I could talk about in this post. I could give you a whole list of advice just like all the other articles you might find here on the internet. But I only really want to talk about one thing.

Most of your high school life was figured out for you. You got to choose your electives and whether you took AP or honors or IB or what. You got to choose your extracurriculars, but it was still mostly handed to you. But now, now is so different. You’re moving away from your family; you’re making a new life for yourself; you’re figuring out what classes you want to take and when and how to make them all work together whilst praying that they don’t fill up before you can register for them. You may be trying to get a job or investigating all of the hundreds of organizations you can join. It’s a lot. And you are finally in the position where you get to decide it all for yourself. The possibilities are endless, and you may discover that you have way too many interests to be able to adequately quench them all. And that’s okay.

You may even discover that what you thought you were interested in is taking second place to some newer, bigger interest. You may have come into college knowing you were going to be a government major on the track to law school and find out that Asian and Middle Eastern Studies is way cooler. And that can be kind of freaky. Let me be the first to tell you: it is completely normal to have existential crises like this in this period of your life. In fact, it will probably happen to you. It’s okay. It’s normal. Your life is not over now that you’re changing your mind.

It’s also okay to have no clue what you’re interested in and what you want to do with your life. As a culture, we like to force everyone to have that 5 or 10 year plan. We are asked what we want to do when we grow up as little, little kids, and we never stop hearing that question. It’s really quite ridiculous. We can’t plan how our life is going to end up. And it’s crazy that we make ourselves even more stressed by obsessing about the future. We have enough stress as it is; we don’t need to make it worse.

So you may not have started questioning your life plans yet, but you probably will. And you will be okay. Know that you don’t need to know your future career, your major, or even what classes you are taking this semester to have worth. You don’t need all that to make a difference in the world. Ask questions. Try new things. Take time to analyze yourself and reflect on your life. Remember that everyone around you is in the exact same boat, so be kind. Smile at random strangers. Give thanks where thanks is due. Own your mistakes because you will make them. Work hard. And enjoy life. Today is the only August 21st of 2015 you’ll ever get, so make the most of it. Good luck to you. I really believe in you.

With all my love,

Brianna “Epylle Spydre”

p.s. This is technically written to incoming freshmen, but it’s really for anyone. Enjoy!

Ears to Listen and a Heart that Wants Change

Sometimes I just can’t deal with how much privilege I have.

Oh, hey guys, I should probably give more of an intro than that. It has been several months since my last post. I’ve finished my first semester of college and wondering where the time went and where it will go. I’ve learned a lot, about myself, about others, and about normal things like chemistry and such. And as usual, I’m blogging to procrastinate working on an application. But hey, it’s actually due in January, so I’ve got plenty of time to procrastinate.

One thing I wasn’t expecting about college, other than how quickly it all fell into routine, was how discouraged I would feel. No, nothing huge and terrible happened. There were just days when I felt like I couldn’t handle school or studying science, not many days, but it did happen. I cried for people I didn’t know and for people I did know. I read so many articles that broke my heart and not just the viral ones. I had to question how it could be possible that people could do such terrible things to each other. I’ve wondered where the goodness in the world was and if it could be truly good.

And I did find goodness. In cute animals and dancing and kind strangers and the understanding testimonies of people who have felt burdened for the world in the same way I have (seriously though, cute animal videos are the best). So I’m okay. I’m excellent, actually. The funny thing about me is that I haven’t really suffered at all myself. I just suffer for other people, and that can be surprisingly painful. But yeah, I’m good. Because I have hope, and I see goodness, and I have an idea of what I want to do with my life (crazy, right?). I have emerged triumphant from my short spell of melancholy.

And I come back to my opening sentence. Because even though I am okay, there are so many people who aren’t. And I feel like I don’t really have the right or the experience to write this post, but I’m going to anyways. Because I want to speak out. I don’t want to be someone who just sits on the sidelines hoping for things to get better but not doing anything about it. I have so much privilege, and sometimes I just can’t deal with it. Because even though I’m an empathetic person, I will never actually experience certain types of discrimination, such as racism.1507593_1013346725359142_141624265100650192_n

Sure, my life won’t be completely rosy. I will probably experience gender discrimination, and money has always been a bit of an issue. Not that it’s a big deal. There are many people who have it much worse than I do. And I feel like it’s helped me to be less attached to material things. But anyways, that’s not the point.

The point is that I am a straight, white Christian (see my post about religious privilege here). I’ve never been super burdened about racial issues, and you can see that in the fact that the post I wrote about privilege was about religion, not race. I don’t really have any gruesome anecdotes, harsh realities, or even inspiring stories about racial issues. All I know is that people are hurting and even dying, and that’s a problem.

As I’ve said, I really don’t have anything to bring to the table except ears to listen and a heart that wants change. And hopefully, when the time comes, hands and feet that are willing to act. As with religion, I think it’s important to articulate where I am privileged and do what I can to help those who don’t have that privilege. And I guess that’s where I am right now. And I hope that’s okay.

Brianna Kathryn Meeks

I’m signing with my real name because I don’t want to pretend to hide behind a fake name (most of you know my real name anyway).