{Reflections} Taking a Look Backwards

I feel like I’m walking up to a gigantic mirror. I’m outside, on a bright, sunny, cheerful spring day. The warm breeze gently pushes back my blonde hair as I take caucus steps forward, wondering what is going on. The smell of spring is everywhere. Flowers are coming out; trees are budding tiny green leaves; grass is finally turning from an ugly brown to a lush green. I take another step toward the mirror. It doesn’t look like a normal mirror. I do not see myself. 

I see flashes of what has happened this past school year. I hear people telling me that things will not be the same Sophomore year as they were Freshman year. I do not completely believe them. At least, I kept this very small part of Freshman year that I thought would never change. It did. As memories literally flashed before my eyes, I could see how much has changed since Freshman year of College at Cedarville University. I had expectations of what Sophomore year would look like…but I guess God had other plans. 

There were times when I felt like God was gently but steadily plucking my fingers off of everything that had been so important to me and taking them from me. I couldn’t understand why that was happening or what I was doing wrong. There were times when I truly felt that God was leading me towards something, more strongly than I ever have before, but it seemed to only lead to a dead end. It didn’t work out. I stayed here. Again, I didn’t understand what God was doing. 

There were times of intense pain and heartache, as well as great steps toward healing! I went through stages that I wish I could have skipped…but I made it through them and truly believe that I have learned something from them that I probably would not have learned if I had not gone through them. 

Even though I still cannot see the purpose of many things that happened this year, I can begin to see God’s hand throughout both semesters. I had some great personal accomplishments. At the end of Freshman year, I tried out for the JV volleyball team even though I thought that there was no possible way that I would make it (even though the coach did ask me to try out). I was absolutely terrified of trying out. All that I could think of was failure. What people would think of me if I had failed. I made it. Even though I was on the team, at the beginning of this year, I still felt like I didn’t belong there. I never felt good enough. I never felt like I connected very well with some of the girls on the team. I felt like they didn’t want me there…that they didn’t think that i belonged there either. I wasn’t confident in myself. Next year will be different. 

Just a few weeks ago I decided to audition for a choir instead of volleyball for next year. But I had second thoughts and, after trying out for the Choir, and even though I missed volleyball tryouts, I decided to ask coach if there was a spot on the team for me anyway. He said yes. I didn’t get into Jubilate. But I was okay with that because I realized that maybe God wants me to try this volleyball thing again. And besides, I felt good because I had tried out for something new. I had never auditioned for anything before and that was an accomplishment in and of itself! 

Suddenly the images stop. They vanish instantly and what I’m left with is me. Just me. Emily Mathews…an ordinary girl who is far too competitive when it comes to volleyball and who loves coffee and cameras a little too much. Over the years I have struggled with my identity. This year I struggled with it a lot. I feel like God has finally placed this issue in front of me again and gently said, 

“Okay, Daughter…now it is time for you to deal with this….”

This year I have so often been far too worried about what others have thought of me. I have been far too self-conscious, even when I am playing volleyball! I have constantly been worried about what they might be thinking about me. It has kept me in a cage. I have also had victories, though. On spring break I went out of the house without any makeup on for the first time since I was allowed to start wearing makeup at age 16. That might not sound like a big deal for some of you, but for me…it was. I realized that I am so often hiding behind masks. Makeup. Fake smiles. Always saying “I’m fine”. I finally began to let go, a little. Not every day…and I know that I have a ways to go on this, still. But I realized that sometimes it just doesn’t matter what I look like! I just need to have some fun and stop worrying about that sometimes, and see what happens! 

I blinked and again just saw myself standing there. The fresh spring air felt refreshing and I took a deep breath, enjoying the moment. I enjoy looking back. It’s funny, but things are often so much clearer when looking through the Rear-View mirror. I still don’t have everything figured out. I have some loose ends. I have some growing to do (okay, a lot of growing to do…lol). But I have made some progress and I am happy with the way things are. And so is God. I may be ordinary, but I have an extraordinary God who has never left my side…even though I’m one heck of a hot, beautiful mess…He has never left and He never will. I have good memories from Sophomore Year 2013-2014, but I can say that I am truly ready for the adventures that God has for me this summer 2014!

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel; ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.'” -Isaiah 43:1-2 

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