Well, I decided I’d write this to follow up on what happened with the meeting at North Park today. As you can likely guess from the title, the meeting went quite well. She basically handed me a form and said, “Write down the courses you want, and then we’ll talk about any questions you have.” I wrote down what I wanted, and then brought up the question of prerequisites. Unfortunately, I ended up having to put down the Grade 11 Chemistry and Physics courses as well, which I didn’t want to have to do, but which I thought I would likely have to do anyways.
After I filled in the sheet, we basically talked for a little bit about universities and such, she gave me a couple books about Guelph University, because she was mentioning about a program they have called Akademia, which basically gives a general program for the first year for those who can’t decide between Arts and Sciences. I must say that I’m a little undecided on that issue. I know I want to get into Psychology, but I’m not sure whether I’d want a BA or a BSc. I decided a while ago that I’d probably want a BA, because BSc deals more with Neuropsychology and brain functions rather than the actual thoughts and actions of disorders and such – as far as I can tell, anyways. It might be a good idea to check out that program, although I hadn’t really considered Guelph as much of an option. I’ll look into it, at any rate.
As I handed the sheet listing all my courses to her, a wave of relief came over me. Here I was, finalizing what I’ve been stressing out over for the past month or two. Well, I can’t say I really got stressed out over it, since it takes a lot to really do that to me, but it was definitely a major concern of mine. She explained how they would feed it into the computer and work out a timetable for me, and then send it to me in June, where I could then look it over and see if I needed changes to be made manually. I think I was just excited about the fact that I was finally getting into North Park.
I’ve always wanted to go to North Park, ever since the end of Grade 8 when I (or more accurately, my parents) were deciding which high school to go to. I mean, I’ve grown to love BCC, just because I’ve helped shape it and personalize it to make a better experience for me – with a small school, it’s easy to do that – but I think I’m going to need a year of being in a larger high school just to get prepared for university and the massive class sizes, if anything else. I mean, the courses are important as well, but it’s going to take a while just to adjust to the mass of people around. I’ve never had the experience of not being in the same class with almost all the same people all the time. I’ve never had the experience of not knowing everyone in my school (unless you count elementary school, but even then, I knew everyone in my own grade at least). It’s going to be a major shock, and one that I’m excited about. I’ve got friends there that I’m sure will help me get adjusted, so I’m sure it’ll be awesome. Even if it’s not awesome, I’ll make it awesome. I have a way of doing that. If I don’t like it, I may get discouraged, but I’ve always had a way of adapting into new circumstances, which is always a useful tool to have.
After handing in the sheet, my dad asked the guidance counselor what the next step was – referring to whether I still needed to set up an interview with the Vice Principal like he had said. She told us no, that she had talked to him and told him that I wasn’t one of those kids that got kicked out of other schools or something. That’s basically what the interview process was designed to check for, and here was a lady that I barely know, standing up for my integrity. It was a strange feeling, and yet encouraging at the same time. I mean, she’s seen my marks, and she’s seen my personality, as well as my diligence in calling her back to try and get something set up. It shows that I care about getting into the school, and it also shows that I’m not just trying to enroll in North Park because I got kicked out of all the other high schools.
So I’m glad I don’t have to go through that. Not that the Vice Principal seemed intimidating over the phone or anything – if an interview had been set up, it’d likely have been a short one, but because it’s just one more thing to deal with. It would also mean waiting until June to find out if I was allowed in, something which would only increase my stress level unnecessarily. In one sense, though, it would be kind of funny to go to an interview designed to check up on whether I’m some unruly kid and then walk in there maturely and basically making him look like an idiot for having to set time aside for it. I mean, I’m not saying that I’m incredibly mature or anything – I can be pretty stupid at times. But compared to many people my age, I’m at the top of the pack. I don’t say that with pride, I say that with the greatest thankfulness at how I was brought up and the experiences that shaped me the way I am; I thank God and my parents for that, although not nearly as much as I should. If anything, I hope my time at North Park will open my eyes to see how much I have in Christ compared to people whose purpose in life is to smoke weed on the weekends and get drunk with their friends. My greatest fear is that I’ll get sucked into that sort of thing, because I’m coming from a strong Christian influence into a place with nothing of the sort. It will create a vacuum that I’m hoping will not suck me in.
To sum up everything I’ve said, I’m both excited and nervous. I’ve got those knots in my stomach as I imagine what things will be like in just a few short months. On the one hand, I’m sure that I’ll have a great time and lots of fun. On the other hand, I’m scared that I might not be cautious enough in ramming my stake into the high ground and choosing my friends wisely. I just want to stay firm in Christ, and having been in a Christian school for thirteen years, I’ve always had a level of protection. Pray for me in this time and in the coming months, because I’m going to need it. Of course, I have Christian friends there that I hope will support me and encourage me to stay strong, but I’ve unfortunately learned that even Christians cannot be trusted too much. It’s sad that those who have complete fullness in Christ sometimes don’t even realize what they have, tossing it away for temporary pleasures. And I know – I’ve been there myself. That’s what I absolutely, positively do not want to happen; I don’t want last summer to repeat itself. I threw away God for a person – a very special person to me, but nevertheless a mortal person, and not a Christian either. I tossed away an immortal God for a mortal person, a thought which still saddens me to this day. I just thank God that His grace even covers the days, weeks, and months, when I fall away from Him. I’m thankful that God is faithful even when we are not.
“This is a true saying:
If we die with him,
we will also live with him.
If we endure hardship,
we will reign with him.
If we deny him,
he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:11-13)
I was going to end off with the above verse, since I think it’s so powerful and it just popped into my head. But as I was thinking back to what I just wrote, I noticed how much I thanked God – something which I’m really not that good at. I find it so much easier to criticize than to thank others, and even moreso with God. In fact, barring Thanksgiving, I don’t think I’ve ever thanked God so much; that’s sad considering I really didn’t thank Him that much, but I just found it encouraging even still. I’m not even nearly as close to God as I’d like to be, but the strange thing is that I’ve started seeing characteristics in my life that are much more evident now than they were not too long ago. I’m seeing fruit in my life, and the fact that it’s there is not so amazing as the fact that I’m actually noticing it. It’s one thing to notice something good in someone else, but often we are our own biggest critics. It’s as if Someone’s pointing these new qualities out to me – and the word “Someone” is capitalized for a reason. And although I’m so far away from God, it’s so amazing that He’s not holding that over me; instead, He’s pointing out the good points of my life. If I didn’t know I’d look like a complete stupefied idiot, I’d be dropping my jaw to the floor right now in shock and amazement.
Please pray for me; I need all the prayer I can get as I grow in Christ. And speaking of prayer, that is one of the weakest areas of my life right now. If you want something specific to pray for, there it is right there. And the thing is that I know what the problem is, I just can’t seem to fix it. I tried starting a prayer journal, but it just didn’t work out – it took way too long to do, and it just started to get monotonous. I’d start praying for the same things over and over – I mean, if prayer is supposed to be a conversation with God, who likes to have a conversation about the same thing for two weeks in a row? It just started seeming impersonal, and my prayers started to get passionless. I didn’t see any results when I was passionate about it, so I just started to get discouraged. I knew He was up there listening to me, and yet He just didn’t seem to be doing anything, like He was sitting up there with a bowl of popcorn just watching me pouring my heart out like a soap opera. I still intend to get back into praying daily, but I just don’t know how to practically carry it out.
The thing is that I think it’s more important for me to talk with God throughout the day rather than have one giant “prayer-fest” at one point in the day. And while having a regular prayer-time is important, I think it’s more important that I learn to integrate God into my daily life by talking to Him about every issue instead of the big “prayer requests” like people with cancer and African children and world peace. I believe in the power of prayer, but there are some things that just aren’t going to change overnight. I mean, God could miraculously make all children in Africa healthy and give them food to last a lifetime, but considering He hasn’t yet, I seriously doubt that He’s suddenly going to do so because Mr. Jeff Hughes asked Him. There are likely still starving children over there to give us Christians something to do, through organizations like World Vision. But considering that I really don’t have the financial security right now to sponsor a child or take a trip over there to help out, and I especially won’t after I begin university, there isn’t much practical that I can do. So, with all that said, I’d rather start praying to God throughout the day, just asking Him things like, “God, help me to be loving to so-and-so as I try to comfort them in what they’re going through today.” “God, help me to control my tongue today.” “God, give so-and-so the strength to handle what they’re going through.” I believe that these are ten times more effective, because you don’t have the time to get carried away with saying the “right words” and start to ramble just to try and score points with God.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (Matthew 6:5-8)
Jesus spoke these words right before telling the disciples how to pray – the introduction of the Lord’s Prayer. Way too often I notice people that just ramble on. They use synonyms to say the same thing – and hey, I do it too. It’s most common when we have to pray out loud, because we’re trying to “pray well” so other people will come and pat us on the back or respect us for our spiritual maturity. But the ironic thing is that thoughts like that just show a lack of maturity. And I’ve noticed that I even do it when praying alone. I start stretching out what I’m praying for to make it longer – I mean, I wouldn’t want to make it look to God like I don’t care about what I’m praying about, would I?
I think I’m going to try hard to apply the KISS rule when praying: Keep It Simple, Stupid. I could really use it a lot. God knows my heart, and He knows whether I mean what I say. If I’m truly passionate about what I’m praying for, I will use that passion not to make longer prayers, but better prayers. Then He will take into account what I’m praying for and answer it saying yes, no, or wait. The big thing to remember here is that we can’t dictate what God does – it works the other way around. You see, He’s the big guy up there, and we’re puny little people down here. He could crush us like insects – just be thankful that He loves us. His will has priority over everything; however, we have a listening ear with God. He will take the desires of His people into account when He decides what He wants to happen. It’s amazing that He does that; He’s not required to follow us, but sometimes He lines up His will and our prayers. Most often, though, our prayers are answered when our prayers line up with His will.
It’s a strange balance when you think about it; God listens to our prayers, and He grants our requests when they line up with His will. So why pray? If He’s going to do what He’s going to do anyways, why should we bother? I believe – from what I understand from the Bible – that prayer is more for our benefit. Although I’m sure God loves hearing the prayers of His people, prayer is a way for us to communicate with God, and therefore we grow as we talk with Him. As we mature in Him, our prayers begin to line up with His will more and more, and therefore our prayers are answered more frequently. The thing to remember is that God listens to every prayer; He doesn’t listen more to spiritually mature people, it’s just that their prayers line up more with what He wants. So, in essence, prayer is a sign of maturity. The more your prayers are answered – answered as “yes,” that is – the more Christ-like you are becoming. After all, Jesus was the one that prayed, “Your will be done.” His prayer was a prayer of submission to God. That’s also a strange balance – He was God, and yet He submitted to God. But the main thing was that He conquered His flesh and submitted that to the will of His Father. My goal is to do the same. It’s what I want to do more than anything, and although I lose sight of that goal sometimes – many times, actually – it still remains in my heart. It’s only my inabilities to let go of my flesh that hold me back from living freely in Christ. I’m not bound by the chains of sin anymore; I just have to let go of the edge of the pool and start swimming into the deep end.
People out there are searching for fulfillment. To continue the analogy, people are standing around the edges of the pool. Some have turned around and walked straight away from the pool. Others try a wading pool, a false religion which seems to fulfill, but leaves them empty. Still others dipped their toe in and gotten scared. But here are the Christians, who jumped into the pool, and yet so many of us – “us” includes myself – stand around the edges of the pool, clinging onto the edge, trying to still hang onto the outside world and be associated with those standing outside of the pool. Though we aren’t bound by our sin, we cling onto it anyway, keeping our old sinful habits. The most challenging thing I’ve found of the Christian faith is pushing away from the edge of the pool and swimming deeper and deeper into Christ. It gets deeper to no end, and it fulfills more and more the deeper you travel. That is freedom. And I want it. Desperately.
I’ve gone on much, much, much further than I expected to in this post. That’s okay. Things just needed to be said, and as I was writing, I was working things out in my head. It’s always interesting to take a neural journey and see where you end up. The funny thing is that I started writing this at 8:57 PM, so this entry has been about an hour and a half in the making. But hey, I feel much better after getting all that out. As I said somewhere in that literary entanglement, please pray for me, and if you already are, I thank you. God bless you, and I’m not just saying that because you sneezed. I know I don’t pray as often as I should, but when I do, I pray for blessings from God on those around me. I know that’s in His will, because He’s working all things for good for those who are called according to His purposes – that’s Christians. Keep strong in the faith, and learn the skill of thanking God for His mercy and grace – it just keeps getting better and better every time you thank Him. Oh and hey, if you got to the end here, leave a comment. Not only is it a great feat that you got through it all, but I get lonely here when no one leaves comments. It makes me feel like no one reads this except me – even though I know that for the most part, that’s true. But hey, if you’ve read all this, you really have lots of time on your hands anyways, so a couple more minutes to leave a comment won’t hurt. Right? Right.