I had a fabulous YAV weekend retreat in San Antonio, Texas. We got to meet up with some other volunteers from San Antonio and Tucson. It was so great to chill out with such incredible people. I loved looking around seeing all these other eager young faces. We've all dedicated a year of our lives to service for various reasons but one thing we have in common is that we care. Listening to everyone talk about their passions, their frustrations, their concerns,etc. was so refreshing. It gives me such great hope for the future of this planet that there are young people out there who each have a social conscious and a willingness to doubt, to question, to take action, to love, and to believe. I am blessed to know a good number of these people, and they will probably never know the far reaching impact they are having on my life.
I got to eat some delicious tex mex, go see a hilarious play written by a former YAV that shed humorous light on community living, and got to cheer on other runners at the San Antonio Rock N Roll marathon. We also got to go on a strenuous, but reflective hike. All in all an incredible weekend get away.
Now that I am back in New Orleans I've been feeling a little stuck. My days are starting to slip into a numbing routine, and I just feel restless, and unsure of what I am doing and what I should do next. There are several projects that I've talked about starting but I just can't seem to get my feet on the ground about any of them, and I am feeling rather unproductive.
Don't get me wrong, I love the people here. And they have all been unbelievably welcoming to me. Last night was great, because we had a Young Adult Gathering where a bunch of young adults of different faiths and backgrounds who are serving in the city got together and discussed ways we could network and connect with each other throughout our time here. It is exciting for me to have new friends to look forward to.
But somehow, I've still been feeling lost and confused, an outsider in my own life who is desperate to break the walls of my boxed in world. I struggle to make a difference while feeling I am only going backwards and not doing enough or the right thing. I feel shy and afraid. I see so much complication and pain and doubt around me, it just makes me want to shrink away.
It is in these confusing times, that I turn to prayer. Prayer has always been difficult for me because it often feels strange and forced, like I am not really getting anywhere. We are submerged in a society that thrives on instant gratification, immediate results. With technology and social media advancing and exploding left and right, it is hard to remember what it's like to slowly, steadily work for something. We are the generation of microwaveable meals and internet phones. If we want something we mash a button, and it's there for us. Meaningful conversations and intimate moments with each other are hard to come by because we are all huddled against our tiny glowing screens, obsessed and addicted to information that floods from our fingertips to our brains. How do we lift up our heads back to the world around us, back to God?
Prayer, I've discovered, encourages a different way of living, goes against the direction our modern world is headed. Prayer is sincerely asking God not for some immediate physical thing you want, but strength to help discern what it is you really need amidst all the chaos and rubble that consume our lives. Prayer is not about producing instant downloadable results, but living a life by faith instead of by sight. Prayer is not a sign of weakness but a sign of willingness. A willingness to ask the big questions and trust that God is good.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6.
Every day is up and down, up and down. But that is how God intended it to be. For without this steady pattern, our lives would flatten out, with no space to grow, to thrive. I feel useless, scared, and overwhelmingly unsure of myself and others. But at the end of the day God has a mysterious, magnificent plan. I don't have to know it, I just need to have faith in it.
"We can reach our world, if we will. The greatest lack today is not people or funds. The greatest need is prayer."