Was it Profound?


Was it profound?

BY Christine Hammond 

          As a young, BC (before Christ) teenager, I read the popular novel aimed specifically at teenaged girls, "Thirteen Reasons Why." Though the themes of the work (suicide, peer pressure, rape, etc.) left me deeply in over my fourteen-year-old head, I remember feeling like I had been impacted. Flash forward to my early twenties (ha, now), and a TV series is made. Curious, and apparently having forgotten how scarred my teenaged self was from the book, I attempted to watch maybe one or maybe two episodes in the beginning of the series.

          Every episode destroyed me emotionally, and for the sake of my mental and emotional health, I stopped watching. That is not really the point of the story. The point is that there was one line of dialogue in the show that stuck with me, that begged deeper (if possible), existential questions. Forgive me as I don't even remember the names of all the characters, but I do remember one of the male friends of Hannah Baker at one point flippantly saying "I changed," (referring to a wardrobe change), to which Hannah poignantly replies, "was it profound?" 

          Instead of empty, new-agey soul searching, my mind immediately leaps to sanctification every time I remember that line, "I changed." "Was it profound?" This in itself reveals the level of profundity which innately exists inside of each of us, and we are created this way intentionally, subconsciously searching for a God that has revealed Himself in all that He has created and done, leaving man without excuse (Romans 1:20) as we desperately seek purpose, security, and fulfillment in broken cisterns that will never hold water (Jeremiah 2:13) when right before our very eyes exists the spring of Living Water (Zechariah 14:8). 

          During my senior year of college, I experienced a number of trials which I felt certain would break me. Beginning in May and June, I fell very ill with some sort of bacterial infection, causing a great deal of (probably unwarranted, but highly effective) anxiety, along with major weight loss. In July, as soon as I considered that trial over, I began experiencing unexpected relational issues with a boyfriend I deeply cared for and wanted to marry.

           This was the beginning of a lesson I desperately needed; I had no control.

           Fall semester, unwilling to budge and allow God to remove the comforts and loves which I so treasured (admittedly, often more than I treasured my Heavenly Father), I succumbed to a sinful level of fear. Every attempt to alleviate the anxiety of sadness was so clearly a fickle stride to hold onto my idols, yet I persisted, all but forgetting the promises afforded me in Romans 8:28, that my God was working all together for His glory and my ultimate good.

           In November, we broke up. I remember driving back to my house and crying like I'd never cried before, screaming really, as I felt what I had created my world around come crashing inevitably down. I slept long that night, and when I woke up, I went through the cycle afresh, crying all over again as I realized that it had not been a dream, and I finally allowed the depth of the loss to overwhelm me. That night, playing intramural sports in a very tiny attempt to distract myself from the emotional brokenness, I tore my lateral meniscus and fractured my tibia. 

          Let's recount at this point the idols that have (mercifully) been stripped away from me: pride in my supposed mental health and ability to be a "well balanced" and efficient woman, some of my literal physical health, a relationship in which I found the vast majority of my security and identity as a person, and now my ability to exercise (and really even be mobile) as a means of distraction.

          I was rendered entirely dependent upon the people around me, and having just gone through the aforementioned breakup only intensified the loud loneliness of going to MRIs, two surgeries, and countless Physical Therapy sessions.

            Praise the God of the universe and Lord of my life, for His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23-24)

           After reveling in my deep weakness for an embarrassing and obstinate amount of time, I cried out to the Lord, unable to withstand the pain "alone" any longer.

          And He heard my voice (Psalm 5:3). I stumbled across Psalm 42, vigorously memorized it, and it has colored this season of my life ever since.

           Verse five was (and is) especially useful as I sought (and seek) to preach the gospel to myself in an extremely dry season: "Why are you cast down, o my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God" (ESV).

          Nights when I cried because I was 22 and single, and I couldn't get up and bring myself a cup of water, and my body was aching, and I literally didn't know where to go from here, I repeated over and over to myself "I will again praise Him, I will again praise Him, I will again praise Him," and my God is faithful. 

          In May of 2017, I graduated from university, jobless, largely directionless, and single during a time when many of my friends were/are getting married. Spurred on to experience the goodness of God in new and unique ways (and unsure of where to go from here anyway), I made a decision to join a team. This team included eleven college students, two professional staff in the ministry I was involved with in college, and me, the welcome but slightly confused "floater."

           I am realizing now that the experiences of Cross Cultural Project 2017 to Tacloban, Philippines, necessitate an entirely different blog in and of themselves. Know for the purposes of this one that the will of God for my life clearly and blessedly surpasses all that I could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21). If only so that I could end up in the Philippines, doing ministry and facing quite possibly the biggest fears and discomforts of my 22 years of life and being tossed into a situation where I can do nothing short of trust God with every aspect of every day has impacted me more deeply than my limited vernacular can ever seek to express.

          Praise Jehovah, for in my weakness He has truly manifested His great strength! (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). 

          There was a time eight months ago when I felt certain to my core that I would never truly experience joy again. I lashed out against the God of my life, an insolent child angry that my ENTIRELY lesser-than "joys" had been stripped away from me. No part of my depraved heart or mind trusted that any part of this would be working together for my good, or even for my "okay." 

           Today we drove to a more northern province of the Philippines called Biliran, hiked up a mountain to a waterfall, and jumped off. In the three hour car ride back to our home base, as I looked around at the community of God-worshipping believers around me and remembered the countless experiences of intimacy with Christ over the course of the summer, it dawned in me that for the past two months I have experienced deep, abiding joy.

          This isn't happiness because the trip is fun, or adrenaline at having taken a great deal of risks today.

           This is the fulfillment of my God's promise that in His presence is fullness of joy (John 15:11). It is the knowledge and full assurance that when Jesus came to Earth, lived the perfect life that I could never dream of living, and knowingly went to the grave to atone for my sins, He said "tetelestai" and He MEANT that "it is finished," and that is enough for me to be filled over and over and over.

             I could and should say more because God is worthy of all glory and honor and praise, but for the sake of time I won't. 

            Let the word of God in Psalm 30:5 encourage you that if you are in Christ Jesus, and you are being refined through the fire in the midst of deep trial, that the same applies to you: "For His anger is but for a moment, and His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning."

             Even more exciting is the promise that through just such trials, idols are being removed, and we are being transformed "from one degree of glory to the next" to look like Jesus Christ Himself (2 Corinthians 3:18)! 

              Because of the saving and sanctifying work of Christ on my behalf alone, I have changed, and I will change, and it is VERY profound. 

Shannon JanicoComment