“You look happy…”

There was a space inside of me when I first came to Seattle Pacific University—a gutter that was a means of transporting water.  It was done waiting patiently to be filled. I used to attempt to fill the void with other things, such as smoky garages, loud bands, computers, and water, but I think I was looking in all the wrong places. 

There was a time when I forgot why I was alive.  That was a time when I was new and green and knew nothing about anything, except perhaps how to awkwardly ruin a conversation, rattle off the Rolodex of northwest indie bands, and carry out the basic principles of fashion.  I took AP English my senior year.  I took my time reading the material (when I wanted to) and started wearing a beanie everyday.  I think there’s a dimension out there that’s easy to fall into and is extremely hard to climb out of.  If it exists, that’s where I was.  It’s like a muddy ditch or something.  I was bound by addiction and boredom.  I’m sure there was more to it than that.  Insomnia has a way of making one forget the good we’re all surrounded by because you’re only conscious to experience the dark.

I remember my solemn ideas resonating with the notions of Ralph Waldo Emerson. His idea that divinity pervades all nature and humanity was one in which I took literally.  I looked for warmth in all the wrong areas.  I wanted to fill the space within me by gazing at tall trees and laughing at foolish people (thus learning from their foolish ways).  I thought I could honestly feel whole by living in solitude within community, but I couldn’t.  I tried to free myself of passion because that’s what the Buddhists and Hindus tell you.  But, nothing, not even the rain filled me.  I couldn’t do a whole lot of anything with eyes wide open for forty-eight hours at a time.  It’s a lot like holding one’s breath, a lot like dying.

I covered the western canon reading the classics.  I thought I appreciated literature until then.  Or maybe, that’s all I could do, appreciate them because I didn’t care to read them.  My relationship to books was analogous to my affair with the Bible.  I appreciated it, but wasn’t one to go out and read it on my own, and that’s just what I felt, on my own.

To skip all the “deep” stuff, I had a second spiritual experience, and now nothing makes sense to me except for Jesus and every single thing He said.  I came back to the fact that Jesus Christ was a real man in history.  I read about him in my European history textbook my junior year.  One has to personally decide whether to believe that he was a complete lunatic and lied about everything, or that He was exactly who He said to be, the son of God, the First and the Last, the Alpha and the Omega, with the whole world in His hands, and more importantly at the time, with my life in His hands.  I loved the idea of a God who loves everyone unconditionally, and Jesus’ idea of forgiveness and salvation.  It’s one of those things you feel a deep conviction about. It’s what honestly fills that space that’s in everyone.  I know because it happened to me.  And, I wasn’t always this way.  I’m done staying out at night to try and feel more alive. I used to run all day never stopping to catch my breath.  But, even now, in my physical weakness and blurred vision, I have something eternal to live for, and I never had that before.

In class, no other religion resonated with me because they didn’t give me hope.  I believe in Jesus because I believe in truth.  I believe in the hope that there is more than this.  I believe in justice and peace, and the power of love.  I believe because I see.  I’ve seen enemies embrace, victims forgive, and oppressors repent.  I’ve seen a beautiful sunrise, shining stars in the sky, and humans brought into it all.  I believe because I experience the power of the Holy Spirit.  I feel the Truth of the Bible make the hairs on my neck stand.  I feel the peace of Christ overwhelm me in times of need and in times of want.  I believe in Jesus because I am broken and He desires a relationship with me, so much so that He died for me, only to rise again to a triumphal victory over my sin, offering a new, a good, way to live.  I believe because He is God.

I guess the real point I’m trying to make with this is that the reason why I’m a Christian is because the only thing that stepped up to the task and filled the empty space within me was Jesus.  Before, that void inside of me was done feeling, and now all it does is feel out of love.  It’s clear to me now that nothing in my life, thus far, has gone unnoted for the God of the universe has been guiding me to this very moment since before I was even born, and I cannot wait to serve Him tomorrow.

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2 thoughts on ““You look happy…””

  1. Nolan! This makes me so glad! It makes my heart smile! Oh my gosh! This writing is breath-taking. You are very talented. I pray that God continues to make Himself so known in your life and that your identity is found in Christ alone. Thanks for being soo great!

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