“Now is the time to seize the day. Don’t be afraid and don’t delay. Nothing can break us, no one can make us give our rights away. Arise and seize the day!”
If you don’t know 90s movie musicals like I do, that’s a song from Newsies. 1992. Christian Bale. Vinnie from Doogie Howser. Bliss. And their voices were in my head.
I had tickets to see the musical, Newsies, at the Smith Center. I couldn’t wait. I sang the songs from the movie all morning long. My poor co-workers thought I was crazy, as I sang songs about New York and bringing Pulitzer down!
I was on a high and I couldn’t wait for the curtain to rise. And then it happened.
I work in a call center. One of the calls that came in was with someone who was both drunk and high. The callers were discussing sensitive issues. I was having a hard time with the call, but thought I could manage... until I took my next break.
Gone were the funny songs. Gone was the laughing and dancing. In their place was a cloud; dark, painful, seeing the worst in humanity.
I tried to shake it off, remembering that this wasn't MY call, it wasn't MY life, and that I serve a God who is much bigger than this. It just wouldn't go away.
Then, when I was almost home, I got a call from a good friend. He and I were discussing church, our goals, how to help people grow and seek Jesus more effectively. When I hung up, I rolled down the window, grinning at the warmth of the sun on my arms, got myself a Cherry Slush from Sonic, and felt like all was right in the world... and prepared to go have the time of my life at Newsies.
I mean... really?
Am I so fickle... am I so centered on my circumstances, that I let outside events dictate how I feel, and ultimately... who I am?
As I was getting ready that night, I started thinking. Do I really believe what God says? Do I believe what He says about me? About the other people in this world? About Himself?
I know the answers to those questions are "Yes." Maybe I should say, "Yes, mostly."
Because God says that I am the apple of His eye. That I am a treasured work of art--despite external circumstances. God says that He cares so much about the other people in this world--even those who are drunk and high and who people want to give up on--that He was willing to give His own life to bring them to Him. That they, too, are cherished. And He says that He is good, and purposeful, and works things together in the right way (albeit, maybe not the most comfortable way), and that He will never change, ever, and never leave me alone. Ever.
And if I can just learn to rely on THAT truth, instead of the things that I see during the day that can cause all kinds of uproar, I might end up feeling a little less... insane. A little more consistent. A little more the kind of person that He wants to shape me to be.
The more that I seek Jesus, the more these circumstances slide off of me and don't form who I am. The more that I seek Jesus, I see how deeply He is seeking me, and instead of allowing myself to absorb the anger and despair I see every day, I can feel His love and compassion for the circumstances that brought this about. When I'm confronted with the cultural mindset of poverty in the United States, I can choose not to judge, but instead to care. When I see people verbally abusing each other because that's all they've ever been taught, instead of cringing, I can pray. And I can live my life in such a way that can show love to people who've never felt anything other than condemnation and judgement.
This is not easy. This does not come easily to me.
But this is what Jesus would want in our world. More people loving. More people caring about others. More people depending on Him instead of letting our circumstances dictate who we are.
I will not be the same person I was on Friday, because Friday taught me something. Friday taught me that I need Jesus as my rock. So next Friday, when I have a call with someone who is drunk and high, I can commit to take one very difficult step closer to Jesus. I will grow. I will change. I will fight to lean more on Jesus and less on circumstance.
And it will be worth it.