Summer 09 was a struggle in some ways, because I found myself outside of the “Harding Bubble,” away from my new-found friends, and not at all sure what I should do with what I had learned the past school year, and what I should do with myself. I can’t say that this is a problem I ever fully solved. So much of the summer was spent wasting time. I couldn’t figure out how to be proactive, to find a way to do something God-honoring and meaningful with my time. I still need to figure something out, for the upcoming summer.
I did eventually decide to get my World Lit credit taken care of at a community college here at home. It was actually somewhat of a challenge to my faith. I’ve always seen the art of writing as an attempt to understand the world around oneself, and oftentimes that includes trying to understand that figure that is bigger than ourselves, namely God, although some don’t see it as Him, as the God of the Bible that I know Him to be. Even throughout high school, as I learned more about literature and literary movements, I knew that not all views were compatible with Christianity. But I had never experienced that to the extent that I did in this class. It was the first time that these views (i.e. the Enlightenment, among others) had been presented as…fact. Or at least more reasonable than faith in God. It was a challenge, and most of the time I didn’t know how to respond. Most of the time I didn’t, I just sat through it and took it as it came. I was disturbed by my inability to vocalize my doubts and disbelief in the philosophies that were being presented to us, and, although I’ve always been better at expressing myself in writing and tried to present my faith in the essays I wrote, I don’t know if that was “good enough”. If it wasn’t I ask for God’s forgiveness, and for strength and wisdom the next time.
This incident is something that I could have studied and reflected on for a long time, but it didn’t receive it’s due because of the next event in my life: the fire. The last two weeks of my summer were more memorable than the rest of it combined. Our house was struck by lightning for the second time in a month only two weeks before I was to return to school. It was scary, but I wasn’t that worried. Mom and I hid in the hallway (the only portion of our house that isn’t close to windows) and waited. The smell of smoke came only minutes later. I was surprised how well I kept my head as I gathered some things I wanted to save before grabbing my keys and backing my car out from the garage. But as we sat watching the smoke billowing out from the top of our house, I lost it, and felt more helpless than I had ever felt before. It’s a terrible feeling, helplessness. But it will make you realize more than anything else how much you need God. Boy, I can tell you I called out to Him a lot that day.
The fire story has a happy ending. The smoke was disproportionate to the size of the fire, and the damage done was much less than we thought it would be as it was happening. We didn’t lose anything, but while it was happening we were sure we would lose everything. God is gracious. But I can tell you, what a lesson it was. It drew my family together in a way I hadn’t experienced before, and showed me just how little I really am in control.
And yet again, this experience held so much insight to be mined, so much to reflect on, so much to learn, and again it didn’t receive its due. Because I had to go back to school.
(This is taking longer than I expected. Sorry if I’m boring whoever might be reading this. But it’s been a great benefit to me.)
Part 3: Fall of Sophomore Year