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Cover Story


I Quit!



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Are you going to run for class pastor this year?” Jessica asked excitedly, as I stood holding the petition flyer in my hand.

“I don’t think so,” I replied, looking down at the sheet.

“You should!” Jessica squealed in response to my indifferent shrug. I shook my head, despite her trying to persuade me otherwise. I finally gave her a noncommittal answer and hurriedly walked away from further questions. The summer before senior year had been a rough one, and even though I had been class pastor junior year, I was slowly losing my grip on who I thought God was.

One day in a particularly dry session of religion class, I had mostly tuned out the teacher as I internally wrestled with myself. As I silently agonized, I came back to reality just in time to hear my teacher saying, “Abraham challenged God. Gideon challenged God. Have you ever thought of doing this? Sometimes God proves Himself to us to give us the faith we need.” Lightbulb moment!

As I sat there, I made a rash, split-second decision. God, You see me struggling to trust You. I want You to try my faith until I have to trust.

Be careful what you pray for.

As the school year progressed, I drifted between the dangerous extremes of apathy and becoming too attached to people’s problems. As the time came to elect class officers, I gave a halfhearted speech to sway my class in favor of deciding I should, again, be class pastor; I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t win. I’m not ready, Lord. Try me.

From that month onward, the school year plummeted downhill at a breakneck pace. I had a severe asthma attack that kept me out of school for two weeks, and when I came back, I was quickly overwhelmed by the piles of homework I had to climb. But things hadn’t even gotten hard, yet.

The day had been a quiet one, and as I left class to go to the bathroom, I noticed a sophomore friend of mine sitting on a bench in the hall. His head was hanging, and he was wringing his hands in his lap. I tried to ignore him, thinking, It’s not my battle

But my motherly side won over, and I slid onto the bench beside him. We sat there in silence for a few moments, and I watched the sunshine inch across the glossy floor.

“If I hadn’t seen you right now, I was going to walk home and kill myself.” The cautious silence was rudely broken. My chest tightened up as I thought how this afternoon might have gone if I had just decided to go the bathroom and overlook him.

“I know you listen to God, and through you, He’ll tell me what to do.” Although he said these words almost inaudibly, he might as well have been screaming at the top of his lungs. 

No! I wanted to shake him senseless. I’m not the saint you think I am! I’m not even sure I know God!

After talking to him for almost an hour, he left for class smiling, and his burden was somewhat lightened, at least for today. But as he left happily, my heart ached. I then decided that all bets were off. God, I’m done! You tried me, and I failed. I’m done! Unfortunately, God wouldn’t be dictated to.

It seemed I was respected, put on a pedestal I had no wish to sit upon. I was texted at 3 a.m. by a friend telling me that she didn’t know what to do with her life, and she needed me to pray for her because God had stopped listening to her. “But He listens to you.”

As I fell further behind in my work at school, more friends came to me, and even people I had never talked to in my whole time at school sought me out to pray for them.

“Hey.” I was called over by a freshman named Phillip. I talked to him often, but he was extremely hesitant to say anything personal about himself, let alone his feelings.

“I heard what you tell other people,” he said quietly. “I have to tell you something.” 

Oh, Lord, not now. I have homework to do . . . 

“I’ve decided never to get married, because I know I could possibly kill my wife. I have a horrible temper, and I can’t control it at times. I’m terrified, but I’m also lonely. I don’t want to die alone. Can you pray for me? Please?” 

I agreed.

One morning as I slogged through last-minute physics before I had to leave for school, I put my foot down. God, I won’t. I have been tried and found wanting. With that finality, I naively assumed that God would now leave me be.

That weekend was school tournaments. At the games, I ran into Sarah, an old friend. “I hear you’re somewhat the school therapist,” she joked. “Some of my friends have talked to me about you, that you’re quite the wise woman.”

I frowned. “I’m not,” I protested. “I told God I quit.”

Joking aside, Sarah sobered up. “You can’t lay aside a gift God gave you. If you do, you’re telling God He’s wrong, that He’s wrong to talk with people through you. That’s not something you do lightly.” Infuriated, I cut the conversation short. I had expected her to tell me I was right to be silent.

That following Sabbath at church, I poured out my soul to an elderly friend of mine, Mrs. Bordeaux. “I wish I could stop caring, could stop listening. I told God I quit, but I feel as if He wants me to learn something! I’m not sure I want to listen to God.”

She gave me a scathing look. “You don’t just tell God no. You have a gift. You are trusted, and trust isn’t something people hand out lightly. Have you ever thought that God has given you what you wanted? You’ve mentioned how you spend time praying over your friends and their problems, and you put your own problems aside. Faith isn’t something that you look inside yourself and say, ‘I have faith.’ But in what you’ve said, you trusted God wordlessly. You knew God would help, and you asked Him to help you help your peers. That’s the truth, you just kept denying it.”

As I sat there, stunned, I realized she was right. I had spent hours praying for them. I had forgotten how mad I was at God for my own struggles, and in helping others, I had found a peace with God. All along I had been asking Him to help me.

Senior year taught me plenty of lessons. But the greatest was one I had known for years and just had to embrace. 

 

Ria Carriger writes from Lincoln, Nebraska.

 

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