Yesterday, I started tearing up while reading a nonfiction book on the subway.
Think that’s a first. I would say that I’m embarrassed, but actually I’m not––in fact, I’m really happy. These were not depressed, self-pitying tears, but the kind of tears that come from being really touched by something, from remembering a deep unfulfilled longing you used to have or a quiet despair you used to live in and realizing that the something more you were hungering for actually does exist.
When I was young, I never used to cry during movies. I would cry when people hurt my feelings in real life all the time, but movies didn’t affect me that way. The first time I cried during a movie, I remember being glad because it meant I was less cold-hearted and numb, able to experience life more fully.
I feel similarly now.
The other day, I was telling a close friend from college about both the overflowing joy and profound loneliness I’ve been experiencing here. As I shared, I found myself confused about how good and yet how hard being here has been. Am I having a good time or a bad time? It seemed contradictory. But when my friend observed that the deep loneliness and joy were probably connected, something clicked: They are both emotions.
I’ve been opening up emotionally in a new way here, and because of that I’ve been feeling everything more fully.
But what has been happening in me is deeper than mere emotions.
When I think back to my life six months ago, survival is the word that comes to mind. I was finishing up my last semester of grad school, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life, so stressed out that I got a stomach ulcer.
At the time, I was aware of my anxiety about the future, but now I see that I also felt discouraged. I thought “growing up” was merely about learning to take care of myself, and that struck me as a bit depressing. I thought of my future in terms of: getting a job, getting married, becoming financially independent, finding/maintaining friendships, figuring out where to live, etc, unaware that God wanted to give me so much more than that.
What is that so much more?
I’m afraid I can only barely scratch the surface in explaining, but, in short, life.
There is a hunger I have felt at various times that I always feared couldn’t be filled on this earth. I thought that asking for that longing to be fulfilled would be asking for too much. But now I am experiencing that more. It’s too much to go into all the details here, but all I can say is: Seek and you will find!
I’ve been experiencing joy and power on a whole new level. Life has been far from easy––pain and difficulty have perhaps even increased as well––but I wouldn’t go back to a life of mere survival (if that were possible) for anything. I feel alive.
And now I’m not afraid to be hungry. I have tasted and seen and press in for more.