By Bri Lazarchik
Once the weather stops being so hot and humid, I’m going to be so much happier.
Once classes start, I’ll be able to focus and feel more connected to other people.
I just need to buy two more skirts, and then I’ll feel ready for the school year to start.
I just need a snack and a coffee, then I can tackle this project.
Whenever I feel uneasy, tired, or impatient, I tend to problem-solve based on what is in front of me. The above thoughts generally flutter through my mind as solutions to whatever the unsettling emotion of the moment might be. The easiest solutions often lie in the form of chocolate, coffee, sleep, new weather, different schedule, a change of scenery, and so forth.
I fall into a trap of placing my hope into things instead of into God.
This mentality clashes directly with the call in today’s Gospel reading. Jesus says to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16).
I hear this reading, and I think, “But, God! There’s so much great stuff in my life! How could I give it all up?” Not to mention, the idea of taking up a cross just never sounds all that fun... you know?
But as I grow older, I realize that there is a lot of beauty to be found in the Jesus’ message here. All of my blessings are gifts from God, but with worldly possessions comes the temptation to covet, to overuse, and to want more. Also, Jesus lays it out plain and simple--
I can’t expect to grow closer to him if I’m not willing to pick up some challenges along the way.
I just went through a major life change that involved a three-part moving process, a fresh start at a new school in a new city, and a month-long summer of waiting for it all to begin. There were points when I simply couldn’t stand it. I wanted time to go faster. I wanted to be anywhere besides bored in my parents’ house. I wanted to wave a magic wand to get everything packed and put in the right places so I didn’t have to deal with it.
In those moments, my coping mechanisms looked a lot like gummy worms, wine, and Netflix.
But knowing that transitions are often immensely uncomfortable yet extremely important, I did my absolute best to talk to God at each step along the way. And to trust him, talk to him, and realize the many ways I can find comfort in him has been an experience I know I will always be grateful for.
I found solace in the “Prayer for Patient Trust” by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, which tells me that I must pass through stages of instability in order to make progress with God. I journaled with Scripture more. I joined the Instagram team at TLP and re-connected with my love of ministry. Along the path, I found many reminders that when it feels like everything is raining down on me,
it means that God is trying to grow me in some way.
As I finally settle into my new life, I look back knowing that I am so grateful for the many chaotic conversations I had with God over the summer. I recognize that I have practiced patience more so than ever before. I sit here, at Harvard University, feeling ten times more grateful than I would have been before, realizing that this is such a huge gift from God that He just made me wait a little longer for.
Today’s Psalm, one of my favorites, puts a powerful emphasis on my lessons this summer. “You are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water” (Psalm 63). In any given moment or season, I don’t need anything tangible to make my life better. When I am feeling parched and lifeless, I don’t need cuter clothes, more affection, extra chocolate, or better weather.
All I should want and need is more God.
So perhaps that seemingly terrifying call to deny myself isn’t so scary after all. In fact, more and more, it is the only thing I want. I want to deny the anxiety, insecurity, and need for “more” that plagues my worst days. I want my future challenges to teach me about who I am when my confidence comes solely from God, what I find when He is all I long for, and how my life unfolds when His greater-than-life goodness fills my restless days.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Wherever she is, you're likely to find Bri singing or smiling with an iced coffee in hand, hopefully surrounded by people she loves. She is inspired by passionate people who discover God through seeking out who He created them to be, and she tries to do the same each step of the way. What proves more and more true in her life is that "if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." Bri graduated from John Carroll University in 2015 with a B.A. in Economics and a minor in Catholic Studies, spent two years as a volunteer apprentice teacher at Saint Martin de Porres High School in Cleveland, and is currently at Harvard University pursuing a Master of Education in Education Policy and Management.