You Turned My Darkness Into Dawn

I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of girl I was in high school lately.

To be completely honest, I don’t like that girl. At all.

She was loud and rude and incredibly mean. Desperate to be “cool” and to fit in. She couldn’t understand why nobody wanted to hang out with her, and she hung out with people that maybe weren’t so nice either. But she didn’t drink! She didn’t smoke! She was a straight-A, 4.0 student, a model of what a non-rebelling teenage is!

I look back on high school now and I understand a lot more about life. Some of it is just because I have a little more life under my belt, but two years isn’t really the biggest gap. Mostly, I look back and understand because of Jesus.

I recommitted my life to Christ when I was sixteen, and maybe I’ll write more about that later, but that was a really pivotal moment for me. But still, that nasty girl who was just bitter and angry still existed. And she didn’t realize the kind of person she was, so she didn’t want to change. She knew she wasn’t perfect, but she didn’t realize how deeply flawed and broken she was.

When I moved to Louisiana for college, I started going to church for the first time in my life, and I actually developed a relationship with Jesus. And that’s when I started to change (Praise. The. Lord.) All of my bad hard edges got softer. I’m still sassy, but I’m kinder. I’m still feisty and hard-headed, but I’m willing to admit my mistakes and give. I am comfortable with who I am, and I like who I am. I don’t want to be like all of my peers, because I was not designed to be like them. I pick my friends carefully, so I won’t get dragged down to that place again. I kind of feel like the Grinch, like my heart grew two sizes that day. I definitely don’t want to go back.

And ya know, that’s what Jesus offers all of us. He offers to turn our darkness, whatever it may be, into dawn. To bring that nasty stuff out into the gentle light of the morning, and to fix it. Being on the other side of that, it’s so dang sweet what He does for us. It’s amazing the kind of transformation a person can have in such a short amount of time when Jesus goes to work.

So yeah. I’ve been thinking about high school me a lot lately, and when I do, I’ve been thanking God for the amazing Cameron-flip He’s done in the last two years, because I was a real fixer upper. I pray that He’ll keep changing and molding me into a person that is more like Christ and less like a person. And I go out into that dawn, birds chirping and pollen covering my car, ready to face the day and the changes ahead.

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The Third Round

“Hi. I’m Cameron. I’m from Georgia.”

When I lived in Louisiana, it’s how I introduced myself. I immediately wanted people to know that I was not from there, I did not understand all the things they said. I would need someone to explain things.

So hi. I’m Cameron. I’m from Georgia.

I’m not telling you this to get some explanation-I’m telling you this because the weather here, particularly where I live, has been awful. The National Weather Service is calling it a Particularly Dangerous Situation. The Walmart 12 miles away from my house had its roof ripped off yesterday. Things are kind of scary. I’m sitting in my house and all I know is things are bad (and also that the Falcons are winning, which is exciting even though I don’t care about the NFL).

I also know I’m terrified. People around me have luckily survived, but there is damage. It’s bad. And I’m thankful I live at home with my parents, and I’m not stuck in a dorm for this. I think I’d cry.

But this morning, in a brief reprieve from the weather, we took the opportunity to go to church. My mom didn’t want to. My sister didn’t want to. But I was determined. I’m glad I was, because during the service I was reminded today that He truly is a good, good Father. That He’s taking care of us, even through all of the uncertainty happening. That no person will ever be in control, only Him. What a comfort. He alone is in control here. And because He is a good Father, He will take care of us.

As the third round of tornado weather sweeps through, it’s a thought I’ll be repeating in my head. I’m scared right now, but I am so blessed. My family is alive. Our house and cars have sustained no damage. We still have power and water.

To quote the great Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, “Happiness (and hope) can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Loving This City

I see a really broken city around me, even though it’s not a city you’ll hear about on the news that much. See, I live in Macon. And around here, it’s got a nasty reputation.

You might be wondering how a city can have a reputation for being bad but not make national news. I don’t know. In the past year alone, some of the major news stories include:

  • a woman stabbing her boyfriend with a dog food bowl shard at the Waffle House (where’s @floridaman when you need him)
  • several police officers shot and killed
  • at least one person dying almost every single day
  • several house fires, many of which are suspected arson

That’s not even all of them. Or very many specifics (but if you google this place, it’s got a “very high” crime rate). And that’s just crime. It’s not really taking into account all the homelessness, the poverty rates, the unemployment rates. Macon is what you might call a broken city, and people hate it.

Honestly, I used to be one of those people. I moved 540 miles away from it and tried to shake away my past. “I’m from Georgia,” I’d say, but I’d never speak about Macon except with my closest friends. But I’ve been learning something since I’ve been put back in this broken city: the only way we will ever fix Macon is if we start loving it. How did Jesus heal people and places and situations and even my heart? With love. Undying, unfailing, would do anything for it love. Not running away. Not getting out. And even though money would certainly help improve some of the situations, money is not going to heal this city. Just love.

And to love a city, you’ve got to really feel a burden for it. You’ve got to hurt in your heart about how broken it is. You’ve got to feel passion and compassion. Loving is not passive. Loving is active. Loving a whole city is real active. You’ve got to really feel for it.

I’m not perfect at this yet. I’m not even good, really. But I’m trying my absolute hardest, and every day my love for Macon is growing. Even the other day, when my dad said “What could you expect, he’s from Macon?” I got a little offended.

I’m from Macon. It’s my home. And I think I’m turning out okay.

I’m from Macon. I used to cringe when I said that. But now I’m a little proud.

I’m from Macon. I’m learning to love it. And I think if we all could, maybe Macon would be the shining jewel it used to be.

Loving Freely

I love a lot of things. 

In high school, there was a girl who wouldn’t even say the word love just to talk about it–she called it the “l-word.” To her, it was reserved for special occasions so the word meant more. I used to want to be like her. I’m definitely not like her. 

I love everything and almost everyone. It all gets a big piece of my heart, without me holding anything back. My job, my school, my friends, my hobbies. I love it all, with a heart wide open for anyone to enter and anyone to pick at. I guess you could say I’m passionate about everything I do. But I just prefer to say I love it. And if it puts me at risk for getting hurt, that’s okay. I’ve given it my all. 

Love Your Enemy?

Y’all.

Y’all.

I’m writing this post when I am still feeling fresh wounds and the attacks are still going, so this might be an emotional roller-coaster ride for you and it might be full of spelling and grammar errors. Bear with me. This is one of those things that is better raw. (So I tell myself).

Tonight I’ve been working on a group project and it’s been great, I’ve been able to get a lot of the work done, but one of my group members has just been incredibly rude. He’s not collaborating, he’s blaming us for everything, he’s being passive-aggressive, and because we haven’t finished on his timeline he’s attacking us.

It hurts. A lot. Because when I think of this group project I see how much we did get done over a holiday weekend, and I’m just proud. It might be due Wednesday but a lot of it is already done, and yeah it’s rough around the edges (a little more than the edges), but we have a full day to edit. We haven’t even seen each other since Wednesday and we’ve done so much.

And for, let’s call him Partner L, for Partner L to be so incredibly rude to us, it’s not fair. It’s just not. It’s incredibly rude. And to top it off, he’s facebook ranting about us even though he added us on facebook! He sent out the requests so he knows we are all “friends”.

But let’s not let that facebook title get mistaken for the truth. Partner L is certainly not my friend. To be completely honest, I just want to yell at him. Ask him why he thinks any of his behavior is acceptable.

But I won’t.

The Bible, and people, talk a whole lot about loving your neighbor even though you disagree with them. But that’s just disagreeing. What about your enemies? What about those people that are just tearing you down, aren’t just disagreeing but actively arguing? What about them?

(Obviously they are still your neighbor.)

It’s hard to think of someone like that as your neighbor though. So tomorrow when we meet up, I’m gonna show a whole lotta grace. I’m gonna bite my tongue, be nothing but polite and even friendly. Partner L does not deserve it, but I don’t deserve what Jesus did on the cross for me.

A friend of mine once told me to “Shine bright, little bird” when I was having a bad week. But that advice applies here. Tomorrow when he wants to argue, I’ll be nice. I’ll let myself shine through, not by arguing but by showing grace and patience and all of those things I’ve got to really work hard to be.

Peaceful(l)

Morning coffee.

The lawnmower rolling by.

Hammers banging on something, with absolutely no regard for the time of morning it is.

The weatherman promising us the rain will end soon (the rain will not end soon).

Screaming from the living room about who knows what.

Dogs barking because a knock came from somewhere.

A pink calculator and the repetitive calm that comes with math.

A Bible that may or may not be open, even though it’s not being read at the moment.

Scratches at the door because that dog wants back in.

Hollering because it’s dinner time and nobody is prepared.

That is peace.

My heart is full.

Life Dump | Feeling Unworthy

Today I feel sad. I feel sad because my best friend from high school dropped me out of her life like I was nothing over a disagreement.

Today I feel hurt. Other friends of mine from high school would appear to not be talking to me. (Admittedly, this is just my perspective, and admittedly, I didn’t expect to be welcomed back in the same way, but did a quick hi ever hurt anyone?).

Today I feel lonely. I have lunch plans with my mom. This will be the first time I’ve eaten lunch with someone since school started, and I love my mother, but doesn’t it just kind of stink when she’s the only person willing to make plans with you?

Today I feel longing. I want to be back in Louisiana. I crave it. I want to be with my friends, my adopted family. Here is good, but it will never be there.

Today I feel like crying. I didn’t get the job I needed to pay for my gas and textbooks.

Today I feel appreciated. My little sister got me Waffle House as a thank you for taking her to school and getting her breakfast in the mornings.

Today the bad outweighs the good. And I can’t help but wonder. Is all of this happening to me because of who I am? Did my friends leave me, did I have to move back, did I not get the job just because I am me and I will never be good enough? My sister thanked me, but taking her to school is something I enjoy doing, certainly not a chore.

And perhaps today my biggest struggle is fighting off those very feelings of unworthiness. My identity is not in me, but in Christ. Those feelings of just not being good enough, not being worthy, those aren’t me. Christ cleaned me up, made me good enough, made me worthy, when His blood washed over me. Not because of anything I will ever be able to do, or say. But because I accepted Him. And in His eyes, the only eyes that matter, I am loved. I am accepted. I always have open arms to run to when I need a hug. I have reassurance that His plan is better even if I’m in a rough patch at the moment. I am always appreciated.

Today I feel a lot of swirling emotions. But every day I am God’s child, and every day I never have to worry about who I am or my worth. In God’s eyes, I’m worth gold.