During the time I was journaling for this project, I misinterpreted the focus. Instead of the group doing this project together, we have each been working at different paces if you will. So, in consideration of the directions for this summary, I cannot rightly say that we agreed together for two weeks on this experience, and in so doing may have come to a different end result than if we had agreed. With that in mind, I have decided to include excerpts from my journal within my overall response to the project, along with reflection and insight into specific instances that stand out in my mind.
I began journaling on Wednesday, November 26th. The first week or so of my journaling was characterized by spiritual exploration and even little leaps of faith, while I was trying to keep focused on my academics in spite of an indistinguishable illness that, even today, has my doctors confounded. My first experience sets the mood for my thoughts about the importance of how to shine in many different settings, and challenges me to this day. For the sake of authenticity, I didn’t correct my English errors in my journaling, and I think it makes it a little more real. I write exactly how I would talk.
Wed,9/26: Well, I started journaling today. It’s kinda weird to do this project, seeing as we’re all Christians anyway. Doesn’t that mean we should always have this mindset, ya know, ”What Would Jesus Do?” Any way, I was also considering the lecture in Global today, and that got a lot of questions going. So, I needed to go downtown, and I decided I would try to go about my errands with purpose. I am Christian, and I just happen to go bible college, and I just happen to be going shopping. I’m a Christian first and foremost.
On my way out, I grabbed my lighter for some reason. I guess I always have one around, but they’re handy, right? Anyways, wouldn’t you know, on my way downtown, a guy asked me for a light. I hesitated, then remembered I actually did. As I handed it to him I thought I should say something, but then he began to cough and turned away from me. He said “These things are gonna kill me…” I asked him why he even smoked then, or if he’d ever tried to quit. He said he had tried, and I told him I had quit some years back. When he asked me how I did it, I thought, “here’s my chance…” I told him that I did it for my best friend, and I said “do you want to meet him?” He asked me if I was gay, and I said no. I told him my best friend was Jesus. He said that his mom’s been trying to save him for years. He said he just didn’t think he’d fit in at church, “church folk don’t like people like him”. I said, “What do you think they say about me?” Then I showed him my tattoos, and told him a little about my past. By the end of the conversation, he had given me his cigarettes, and I had given him directions to ICCM. It was great.
Now, in the interest of space, I felt it necessary to include that whole entry but summarize a few of the others. The next was rather uneventful, I was just sick. Friday I was set to thinking about some of the guys on my floor, and how they talked about some of the female students at this school. I guess I kinda folded, though, and got caught up in some of my own struggles and therefore said nothing to them in order not to be hypocritical. I should have said something, but I’ve had the opportunity since then. These are just more accountability issues.
The following weekend was our lifecore retreat. We spent Friday and Saturday with our sister floor, and I had already began to resent some of the people I run into at bible college. I guess I was wondering why so many people thought it was okay to be un-Christian when we’re around each other, but we must be proper around non-Christians, (or as I like to say, pre-Christians.) Some of these kids were really doing things I had objections with, making sick jokes and carrying on just like some of my old friends. I resolved to get the best out of this opportunity and pray for them and just let it be. The lot of my journaling over the next two weeks has, for the most part, been outlined above. The most exciting entry, in my opinion, was this next one.
Thurs.,10/11: Well, I’m in the hospital right now. But I’m so glad I left work.I had missed church the past two Sundays, and so had not seen if the man I met on the road on the 26th had attended or not I saw the guy who gave me his cigarettes, as I was walking here. It turns out he’s homeless, though I kinda figured that. But he went to the library and looked up his mom on one of those people search websites. He gave her a call last week on a pay phone, and she’s going to drive up and meet him at the Metrodome on Saturday. She’s coming from Chicago. His name is Jamal. He is so full of joy, he’s been going to ICCM and he’s praying and someone gave him a bible.
Now I don’t want to go back to school and have to face all the people there who would rather argue about doctrinal details and other little things that really have no effect on our salvation anyway. Jamal and I could’ve talked for hours. were I not ready to puke, and we would have totally shared a glimpse into God’s idea of happiness. God, give me a new love for Christians who could use a dose of reality to enhance their perspective of the mission you’ve charged us all with, and give me the joy Jamal has. So child-like and unfettered.
That was a huge deal to me, and if I hadn’t been so sick that I had to leave work, then I would have never run into him again, and I really needed that boost. I was so happy to hear about his situation, I only wish I had more space to include the entire set of entries. He made me think long and hard about what I expect of God, and those around me.
I only had about six more days worth of journal entries after that one, in which I think I really lost focus on this project. The first few I was pretty much in bed for. Sunday night, I got a phone call from another person in my group, and got really mad. I also ran into her on Monday, with much the same result. I didn’t react how I would’ve before this project, maybe two weeks ago, which is good. But I wanted to yell back, or defend myself. I wanted to put her in her place. I hate it when people challenge my integrity, but I really felt that I had no real excuse. I was sick, and therefore doing the best that I could. Maybe I’ll talk to her, maybe not. All I know is that if I hadn’t been thinking with the mind of Christ to the best of my ability the past couple weeks, I probably would’ve ripped her apart right there in the hallway. I used to have a razor tongue, and the thought’s were present and ready to flow. Man, I’m lucky I didn’t say what I was thinking. Now I can pray for her, and for myself and the way I wanted to react. This project has really challenged my thought life in many areas, and my reaction to negative things. I find myself wanting to pray for my brothers and sisters instead of responding in anger, or accusing them of impure thoughts. I need to change me before God can change anyone through me.