A Reflection from Erica Waysville, age 21.

Visual Arts Student Leader with UMin.

 For most of my life I have been preoccupied with signs. It started out as part of my obsessive compulsive disorder as a young teenager and even though my disorder had long since subsided, it carried over to my Christian faith when I gave my life to the Lord two or so years ago. I felt as if signs surrounded me – a word I heard spoken in casual conversation or read on a screen or in a book, a song I heard on the radio, the way certain places evoked such strong feelings within me; I felt all of these things told me that I was meant for something more. That I had a destiny that was greater than I could ever imagine if only I could interpret them right.

But I was constantly worried that I interpreted those seemingly prophetic signals wrongly. For a long time it consumed me. Perhaps I just imagined that they were meant for me? Perhaps I was looking for something that wasn’t there at all. It got rather disheartening, as I’m sure you can no doubt imagine. I was constantly turning this way and that, trying to catch a glimpse of my future before it passed me by like a speeding subway and I no longer had any say in the matter. “Oh I saw this word on a newspaper that happened to be blown across my path as I crossed the street. It must mean that I’m going to get this job I’ve been hoping for,” or “Oh, this song on the radio at this particular moment in time… it must mean that I am going to start dating this certain guy.” It may seem silly to you, but to me, that was reality. God was sending me secret messages and I was the detective that could decode them.

For a long time, this went on. And I was miserable because of it. I was miserable because all of the signs I thought I was seeing kept letting me down. They never came true. Of course, I am not one to say God does not send signals to people or even to me, for He works in mysterious ways. I certainly do believe that God can and does influence us in perfectly human ways and can lead us in the direction He wants us to go however He chooses. I just think that I took that too far and took every detail, insignificant or otherwise, and let it rule my life. I was determined to keep my path strictly according to these signals. I was planning out my future according to these “signs,” which, in reality, were keeping me from truly living.

Over time as I’ve learned more about Jesus and myself, I’ve changed. I can proudly say that I no longer waste my time looking for things that aren’t there. With God’s help, I’ve broken these shackles from my wrists. The freeness I now know is exhilarating. I’ve realized that if God really wants me to know something, He’ll make sure I find out! I don’t know where my life is going at the moment, where I will be in five years, in ten years, who I will marry, or what job I will have. But that doesn’t matter and I’m not afraid anymore. God’s plan for me is greater than anything I could ever imagine. And it’s the same for all of us. Why waste our time, effort, and sanity by trying to force His hand in a direction it doesn’t want to go? Why keep our eyes on the shapes that the cracks make in the tile instead of looking up and seeing the vast riches that surround us? I can breathe more freely now that I know it’s not all on me to discern where my future is headed.

Life is a pilgrimage; life is an adventure. Turn your back on the earthly reflection in the mirror and don’t let the little things hold you back. As George Hinman said in one of his talks recently, “Jesus Christ is a perfect judge, a noble slave and a loving servant so that we may be free.” Honor that. Taste the salvation, live the salvation. We are free to enjoy the beauty of this world and to pour ourselves out because of His willingness to give His life. We are called to turn away from ourselves and focus on the sacrifice of Jesus. Turning away from our earthly appetites and petty worries and instead giving our love freely to those who need it – this will give us true freedom. This is what I’ve learned.

I have realized that with a true heart and a desire to seek the Truth in Jesus Christ, it doesn’t matter if your feet falter along the way. It doesn’t matter if you don’t always know where you’re going. If you really believe, if you really have faith, if you are really willing to give yourself up, anything is possible. And when the focus is no longer on yourself, that’s when you can become truly liberated. That’s when God will answer prayers and show you where your path leads, in ways that are subtle and ways that are huge. That’s when you will grow. To me this is a comforting thought, and I hope it is to you, too. No more chains – just freedom, with two feet in.


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