But it wasn't all bad. I took a writing class, which reinforced the obvious: I like writing enough to make it my major. When I told my family, they all said, "Finally!"
There were valuable lessons in my other classes, too, even the ones I dreaded most. I suspect I'll be mulling over them for many months to come. And that, in part, is what leads me to write this post.
Back in June, I wrote "Space Brothers: Dreaming Big" and "Mutta and Me: A Second Chance to Dream Big." I ended the second by saying, "I don’t want to wait until I’m Mutta’s age to pursue my dreams. I don’t want to push aside the opportunities my Hibitos and Sharons have presented me. This is my second chance to dream big. I have no excuse not to take it."
I stand by what I said then. But I must admit that my dream to become a writer is too small. Or, to be precise, it's under-defined.
I go to a Christian university. I take Bible classes and, when I can, I go to chapel. Even professors of history and writing encourage me in my faith. Sometimes, these sources approach the same theme from a different angle. This semester, that theme was the Great Commission.
I've heard or read Matthew 28:18-20 many times, so it's not like the Great Commission was news to me:
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of every nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the end of the days."
I've sung these words in Sunday School and written them in my journal. They're the words said in a resounding voice at the end of children's Easter movies, right before Jesus goes to heaven. But He didn't say these words just so we could repeat them. Our Lord was giving a command. And I can't claim it was a command just for his followers 2,000 years ago, either. Jesus told them to make more followers, and to teach them to obey everything He commanded. See that little "make disciples" part? That's a command. So Jesus told that group to make disciples who would make disciples who would make disciples... and I'm part of that chain. Oh snap.
No, I'm not packing my bags and headed across the world to be a missionary. But I pray I'm open to the possibility. I have to come face to face with something I've known all along: I can't write just for my own sake. I can't live just for my own sake. The world is broken. I see it in the shootings in Colorado. I see it in my mistakes. I see it in hungry children and overworked mothers. I see it in stubborn politicians and thin pop stars. I see it in anime, books, and movies, because those creators see it, too. I feel the brokenness in my heart, and it hurts.
I know where to find hope. I know who will renew the earth, who has won the battle against evil. If I call myself His servant, His friend, and His follower, then I can't hide from the pain. Jesus' deep compassion and His actions are connected. He left his throne and became one of us. He reached out to the suffering. He made disciples. He died a painful death and rose again, reconciling us to God.
When I chose to embrace Jesus as my Lord, I chose a difficult path, and I like to pretend I didn't. I like to pretend I can slap "Christian values" onto my life choices and pursue the same type of success everyone else does. There's a big problem with that: Jesus values souls - people. I'm supposed to value people's souls the same way, and I'm supposed to value God's glory. Those kind of values can't be tacked on as an afterthought.
Well, that's uncomfortable. Can I stop writing and go watch anime now? Please? I'd like to leave these thoughts for later, when I'm closer to graduating college or I'm accumulating debt at a slower rate.
Following God is uncomfortable, but I'm not comfortable focusing on everyday comforts, either. I long for more, for a purpose in life that doesn't revolve around me. I want to write, but when I write just to get more readers, or praise, or money, I feel hollow.
I'm taking steps toward professional writing. I'm learning more about the beauty and power of words. I want those words to glorify God. I'd like to contribute to the disciple making process. Sometimes, I'd just like to delight in the words God has given us to use, and to know that He takes pleasure in my delight. I'd like it if, no matter what kind of writing I do, it opens doors to conversations and relationships that bring glory to God. I want to highlight goodness and confront brokenness.
If I want to take the risk and dream big, I must say, "You are my Lord. Here is my pen, my keyboard, my dream - use it for Your glory. Give me Your dream, because it's better than mine. I look forward to an eternity of living, obeying, and writing with You."
God's dream is bigger than my dream to publish a book or Mutta's dream to go to the moon. It's bigger than Naruto's dream to become Hokage, or even his goal to bring back Sasuke. And the best part? God's dream is reality, and He's invited... well, actually, He's commanded me to join the effort to see it through. So when I dream about writing for a wide audience, I hope I catch myself and ask, "Am I dreaming big enough?"