It’s been an interesting few months. I went to Poland, I got baptised and…oh yeah I deferred my admission to grad school. Since then, I’ve had a lot of time to think and pray and begin interesting projects. The hardest thing about free time is that you never get anything done. You get to the end of the week and you realise that that ministry book you wanted to read remains untouched. Then, after reading a page, you take a break and congratulate yourself on actually opening the book. A month later, you still haven’t progressed past that page. Oh Lord Jesus, help me in my reading!
During this post you will see pictures from my baptism. These pictures have nothing to do with the subject matter, I just wanted to share a special event in my life.
The most interesting part of these past few weeks has been the realisation that I am transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. Currently, I’m in that phase where I can clearly see both sides of the coin. On the one hand I still experience the same emotions and frustrations of adolescence, yet there is now a maturity and assuredness, which I’m assuming comes from adulthood. This unique view has been very useful when serving with the young people and then fellowshipping with brothers and sisters about the young people. It has also allowed the Lord to deal with certain situations I wasn’t aware that I was going through.
After deferring grad school for a year, I was naturally a little disappointed. This is something I had really wanted to happen this year and so a little disappointment was expected. What surprised me though was what was beneath the disappointment. I realised that there was a deep resentment towards certain older saints for what I perceived to be a lack of oneness for my future plans.
Without exposing anyone, several older saints remarked, rather forcefully, to me that the Lord’s Move was in Europe and that I was going the wrong way. As someone who, at that point, had barely been in the church life for two years, this was quite a damaging thing to hear. I now understand what they were trying to say but because of the type of person that I am, how they said it and when they said it were both wrong. I don’t get offended easily, but when I really want something I can be both strong-willed and stubborn. When you add this to the fact that I still thought of myself as a newbie and I hated confrontation, it make sense that I dealt with it by cutting myself off from those saints. At that time, I didn’t realise it but if I saw them walking towards me, I would walk in a different direction. I would also do my very best to avoid having any sort of conversation with them but, if they managed to corner me, I would give frustratingly noncommittal answers to their questions. I allowed a misunderstanding to become a divisive issue.
Thankfully, the Lord was fully in control and all that resentment is now gone. Had this situation happened a year ago, I’m very certain I would have left the church life feeling bitter and and angry. Remember, I’m from the Catholic world where if you had a problem with someone you either bad-mouthed them behind their back, or you moved parishes. Trying to figure out and engineer a move abroad was hard enough without people openly opposing you, or so it seemed. Thankfully the Lord had gained me enough for me not to even consider leaving. And in time He revealed to me the role I had played.
My mistake was not fellowshipping with the saints in my locality and home meeting about grad school. I made the decision, announced it and expected their full support. Instead of saying, “Hey saints, I really have this feeling to go and do my Masters in America. Can we pray about it?” It’s almost as if I said, “Hey saints I’m going to America to do my masters. You will pray for me!”
As a semi-adolescent/semi-adult I can now clearly see how both sides caused damage to one another. My actions, like those of many young people, didn’t take into account the church. All I cared about was my growth, my migration, my future experiences with the Lord. I didn’t once consider how it would impact the church in London and the saints I’ve been blended with. The actions of the older saints, like that of some adults, didn’t take into account my susceptibility to offence. It’s easier for an adult to notice that they’ve damaged a young person because it usually leads to the young person withdrawing from the regular church life. It’s much harder for a young person to realise that they’ve damaged the church. When we make arbitrary decision without fellowship, we takeaway authority from the church and give authority to our flesh.
I understand this now, although it would have been great if those saints had subtly but firmly shepherded me in this area instead. The truth is that most young people don’t have the spiritual maturity to think about anyone but themselves and often a lot of offence can be avoided by realising this. But hallelujah for this experience.
The great thing about deferring my admission is that I am essentially redoing the whole of last year. I now have a whole year to sit down with the saints in London and say, “Saints, I still have this strong feeling to go abroad and study for my masters. Can we pray and fellowship about this so that we can go forward in oneness?” Finally, after almost three years in the church life, I am getting the hang of this fellowship thing.