BY JESS AMOTH
I used to hate the color orange. I couldn’t stand asparagus. I never saw myself in the small town of Pullman.
I would run away from my problems. When someone hurt me; I wanted to move onto the next charming person, or dream about the next up and coming event or thrilling new city. I defaulted to distracting myself instead of dealing with the root of the issue: ME. I used to be pretty self-centered, only focusing on what was in it for me. (Just ask my brother, he’s got tons of stories.)
If there was one thing I knew for sure, I hated Christians. My mom used to tell me that my life would be better with Jesus. I disagreed. I thought my life was great as it was.
I thought Christians were dull and boring, the people who like to be controlled and enjoyed structure. You know, the rule following critics, the fun suckers or even better the “holier than thou” who looked down on me and thought they knew my life. Being a Christian wasn’t cool, so I wanted to stay far away from it or anything else that could damage my reputation.
Recently the Washington State University Greek System was banned from all social events for the rest of the semester. A few years ago this would have felt like the end of my world. I used to live for the party. That’s where I would feel loved. Walking into a party was an instant shower of attention. I felt connected and had fun. We told stories and bonded as people all living the same life. I was so happy. I felt momentarily on top of the world. But it was fleeting.
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” -C.S. Lewis
Year after year the thrill of chasing this happiness proved unreliable. People told me they wanted my life, that it seemed like I had it all together. We were all searching for the same things: acceptance, success, fun, purpose, belonging. But it became painfully obvious to me that I had all I wanted and I still came up short. I had good grades, parents that were still together and loved me. I had a boyfriend whom I adored, loved my sorority, and had too many friends to keep track of. Chasing the approval of the world was exhausting. Because once I got it I just needed more - there was no ending point. I was happy, but it still wasn’t enough.
Jesus kept knocking at my heart. I had ignored Him for too many years that this interaction felt normal. But over the course of a year I found myself suddenly open to what God could offer me.
Someone explained the gospel to me. God is the only constant - the one that created the world and knows everything about the future. He loves me (and you) more than anyone on this earth ever could. But we have a sinful human nature, a tendency to desire things that God didn’t create us for, things that are harmful to our hearts. We think these things are better than God is for us. But God has no sin. Sin is the opposite of Him, He hates it. So He sent His son Jesus to live a life without sin and die for us so that it would cover our mistakes. This gave us the ability to have a relationship with God. He doesn’t look at us and see our sin, Jesus took that away. He looks at us as the love of His life, the ones He created and knows deeply.
I wanted this, to be known completely and loved deeply.
I realized that God wasn’t what I should be running away from. I should be facing the weight of the world with His help.
I was afraid of losing things. And I did, I have lost a lot along the way. But I realized that all this earth has to offer will let you down at some point. Even the things we think would never hurt us can blow away in the wind, subject to change. I now put my hope in things not of this earth, but the one who made it.
Jesus offers a life of purpose, giving me a joy I never thought obtainable. It is the satisfaction I was searching for all along, what I thought the approval and success would bring. When I lived for only my concerns and everything revolved around me, my world was so small. But now it has become incredibly big.
Now I find myself living in Pullman working for a church, both of which I used to make fun of.
Now I am willing to be vulnerable with my life instead of creating the illusion that I always have my act together. Now when something doesn’t go my way it’s not the end of the world. Now I am concerned about other people’s lives even when it is an inconvenience to me. Now I want to do everything I can to spread the hope and joy I have found in Jesus, which is available to everyone. You could say some things have changed, but I still hate the color orange.
If you connected with this story and want to speak with someone about it, email firstname.lastname@example.org.