The first interaction I had with Bailey Gerber was in second or third grade and–honesty hour here–I hated her. Some chick I had never spoken to before skipped up to my locker with the biggest smile stretched across her face.
“Did you hear?” she said eagerly. “The Taylors are moving!”
And that was it. She bolted off, while my 8 year old world was almost completely blown off its axis. The Taylors. My neighbors down the street whom I loved to visit, play with, and “babysit” (that’s quite a generous term for ‘carrying a little boy over to a trampoline’). They were leaving! Leaving forever! I’d never see them again! And this little Bailey girl was happy about it. Naturally, I cried.
12 years later, she’s my best friend. Allow me one cliche sentence: We have laughed together, cried together, worshipped together, worried together, and done school, band, church, Spring Break, road trips, mission trips, and life together. Bailey is one of those friends who teaches you about Jesus just by going through life, and I think that’s some of the best teaching you can find.
When I started a blog, I knew I wanted her to guest post first. (Insert girly squeal: BFF privileges!) By fifth or sixth grade we were swapping stories. That may not sound like a huge deal, but writing was something I did for me and only me; to let someone read what I wrote was like removing a piece of my heart and saying, “Here, keep this safe please.” Come to think of it, it’s still like that. Bailey and I would write short stories, poems, fiction scenes, and whatever else our wee little middle school brains came up with. Whoever was reading the stories went through them, editing and revising with colorful glitter pens. So basically we were bona fide authors, drunk with power.
Since then, we’ve grown up a little. (Emphasis on “a little.”) We both still cherish writing, Jesus, and each other though, and those are some key ingredients in a friendship.
I’d like to think I am her biggest fan, but I’m not so sure. Bailey has been impressing teachers, and adults far older and wiser than herself for years now. Once someone sits down and takes notice of how much talent she has, it’s a little astonishing. Even online magazines are starting to use her gifts, as one called Venn published one of her pieces just last month. However, she is more inviting than I could be with any words I come up with on her behalf, so I’ll let her advertise herself:
If you see yourself in my journey (or if you’re just interested), you can join me at notrunningfrom.blogspot.com. It’s where I recount my experiences of the Marvelous Light I’m walking in by God’s grace each day. Part of the fun is getting to walk alongside other Children of Light. So feel free to stop by anytime.
So that’s it. That’s my friend Bailey, that’s how our friendship began, that’s where you can find her blog, and now, this is a little piece of her heart. Keep it safe.
Last year when I moved into college, there were tears. Buckets of them. I wish I were kidding. When my family left, I stood in the parking lot and bawled my eyes out. I told them I didn’t want to be “left here” [[aka a mere hour drive from home]], even though I had my car. It was rough.
This year, not so. I moved in at 3:00 p.m., and I waved good-bye to my family at 5:15 p.m. Not even a lump in my throat. I went to dinner, met up with a few familiar faces, and slept in my own room [[for one night, anyway]]. The next day, I got up and went on a leadership retreat to train for the school year with the rest of my team. This year, I was ready for all of it. Classes, homework, leadership responsibilities. I’ll reiterate: no tears.
Until around 10:00 on Tuesday night. Suddenly, I remembered that I missed being able to hug my parents before I went to sleep. I missed my sister sitting annoyingly on the edge of my bed. I missed my people, who live in a variety of locations—all of which are even farther away from Grace than they are from Bluffton. I missed semi-knowing what I was doing at my job at Dairy Queen. I missed the security—the control—that home offered me.
Because, you see, I really don’t know what I’m doing. I’m signed up for classes that might not even matter if I decide to change my major one or two more times. I’m not prepared for any type of career, and I don’t really have one in mind to begin with. [[You know how most people start at square one? I’m that poor misguided soul who’s at square -342.]]
Maybe the reason I struggle here isn’t so much the place as it is the feeling of complete and total loss. I convince myself that I’m ready for the next step, but then I remember that my next step might not even be in the right direction. I hate not having a plan. I hate being trapped. But sometimes that’s exactly what I think I am here. If I graduate with a degree and get a job I hate, then it means I blew thousands of dollars during four years of education I won’t even end up using. How can I justify that?
During the summer, I got to spend time with my people and work at a job I was familiar with. During the school year, I’m with great people, but they just aren’t my people. And instead of having a job, I’m taking classes to prepare to get one. But the classes aren’t any good if I can’t figure my life out.
There’s so much pressure. On all of us. We’re supposed to find out who we want to be in this world. We’re supposed to pick something and stick with it. We’re supposed to be constant, but the ground under our feet is always shifting. Eventually we find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place—because all our decisions up to that point have been riddled with uncertainty.
Uncertainty is the only certainty we get in this life. I can’t be sure of people, because we’re humans and we disappoint. I can’t be sure of myself, because I am inherently flawed—sinful by nature. I can’t be sure of my future, because even my next breath is not guaranteed.
But I am sure of God’s goodness. I am sure of His love. I am sure that there is Light in the darkness I have to walk. At the end of every day, I just remind myself that the security and control I love so much is not mine to gain or relinquish. Sometimes I’m ready for the next step, and sometimes I only think I’m ready. Sometimes, I know I’m not. As long as I’ve got grace [[to make mistakes, to learn, to grow]], I’ll make it out okay in the end.
So yes, I thought I was ready to move back into college. Yes, I did find myself on those first couple nights feeling so, so lost. And yes, some days I do catch my breath and panic just a little bit because I have no clue what I’m doing.
But then I remember that there is no situation in which I will ever find myself to be trapped. No situation where there is not a way out. Jesus doesn’t do that to His beloved. His grace and His provision will always be enough to get me to the destination. Even if I’m not ready, I can be confident in the fact that He is.
You know, next time I’m caught between a rock and a hard place, I’ll take a second look. The thing about the “hard place” is that it tends to push me ever closer to the rock, and maybe—just maybe—I’ll find that I’m not caught after all. Because the Rock of Ages is hardly a bad thing to be trapped against.