Growing up, my family will tell you, I was forced to take on responsibilities earlier than most people my age. I can recall the constant prayers that ended in tears. Why did I always have to struggle? Why did I always have to sacrifice? Why did I have to second-guess every purchase I made?
Everyone always traveled during spring break, winter break, and summer; I’ve always stayed behind to work. I had a phone bill to pay. Rent due, a sorority bill, and a utility bill every month. Medical expenses. I needed gas for my car. Contacts to re-order. Car repairs to be done. Books to purchase and school supplies to be had. I needed groceries and clothes.
On top of this, I was seeking comfort, attention, self-worth, and self-love from people who were never designed to provide it, trying to live out my passion for volunteering, keep up at one of the top universities in the country (Go Dawgs), and try to balance having somewhat of a social life. Life just got to be so much so fast and I was overwhelmed.
“You’re a Davis, we always make it through.” “You’ve got to look for the good in the bad.” “There’s so much to be thankful for.” “Less is more,” I was always told. Cue eye roll. Cue tears. “But why me?”
To this day, I still worry when I don’t have a certain amount in my savings, because I know from experience that life can change drastically in a matter of minutes, and I’ve always been dead-set on being one step ahead.
Also I have always been too stubborn to ask for help from my parents because I knew that they were giving me all they could, and that they both had already sacrificed so much for my brothers and I. I couldn’t bear to ask for more. After all, a lot of the things I wanted were material desires and I wasn’t going to selfishly ask for something I could very well work for on my own.
After pushing all of my worries and problems deep down, building walls that I refused to let anyone tear down, the countless “I’ll be fine,” or “I don’t need help,” conversations, I went to the hospital for severe abdominal pain and bloating, caused by what doctors and specialists said was anxiety and stress.
I came to find that the problem was not that I’ve always had to work for what I wanted, but the problem was that I was so wrapped up and consumed in myself and my desires, so caught up in my own world that I couldn’t see all that I had in front of me, all that I had to be thankful for.
After a fat hospital bill because of my lack of health insurance, a blown engine in my car, and a hurting heart, I decided it was time to go see mom. When I arrived, she embraced me with open arms and said, “I’ve learned one too many times that God is in control of my life and I am not.”
I remember immediately bursting into tears. She was right. I needed to release control.
We had to choose a program to do our volunteer hours for my major. Prior to reading the list of options, I knew I needed to be plugged into a low-income community full of children raised by working class parents or in single parent households, who have known struggle and who were battling their way through school in addition to the trials faced at home.
Not only in the same year of God providing His will for me did He take it one step further. I now know my purpose is to serve the less privileged, to work with children who I can relate to.
So, I didn’t stop there. I needed more experience. I needed to be surrounded constantly by people who could remind me that there’s SO much beauty in struggle. God provided just that.
Over the past year, I developed a consuming passion to serve in orphanages overseas, and to help build schools all over the world. Though those desires are still dear to my heart, when I went to a small gathering called The Real Movement (Google them!), someone said, “It’s funny how there’s this misconception that you have to go overseas to serve, when often, there’s work to be done in the community around you.”
Cue Lightbulb. Duh Trisha. Why hadn’t I thought about that? I had been so invested on leaving that I didn’t realize how much I could do around Athens, Georgia.
And so I began to research. I reached out to the Athens Homeless Shelter, a home for single women and their children. Because of this place, my summer nights have been filled with a whole lot of love, laughter, tears, smiles, genuine conversations, and hope.
I spent some time recently looking after a child of a friend of mine. Have you ever seen the joy in a child’s eyes when they begin to talk about something they really love? Have you ever seen a smile on someone’s face when you plan a few hours doing something that they’ve mentioned they would love to do?
I later discovered that he and his dad walk everywhere they need to go because they don’t have a car, including to and from the grocery store. My heart, again, was broken. How could I have ever been so wrapped up in myself?
I began learning the stories of my co-workers throughout the different jobs I’ve worked this summer. Some of them fought their way through rehab, some through depression. Some work overtime or have two jobs just to keep their head above water, like my family has done before, and then there are some who, just like me, are in college, and are working to pay for it.
I made a family away from family out of people who were once strangers. My family lost our home while I was in high school and I’ve never really had a physical place to call my home, but rather, found that home for me has been in the stories of people who once were sinking but fought their way out of the depths.
It wasn’t until I released control, and began to search for love and comfort in the One who had already experienced all trials and tribulations of life, who understood all that I was facing and knew I needed a Savior, did I become fulfilled. When I surrendered, I found joy. When I casted all of my worries and anxiety on Him, I found relief. I had always tried to imagine my future. I was constantly worrying about if I had enough, or worrying about what trial was going to come next. However, when I started to take my life one day at a time, and decided to give my time and money freely, I experienced true freedom.
“For when I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”
When I catch myself worrying about something I have no control over, or if I catch myself looking ahead to the future, I immediately stop. “For each day has enough trouble of it its own” (Matthew 6:34).
The point of my story is not to make you feel bad, but to just make you (hopefully) take a moment to think about all there is to be thankful for.
I am still a work in progress, still battling my self-confidence issues, jealousy of friends without jobs, my longing to travel all over the world to educate children, and so much more. However, I now know that I’m not alone in doing so. I’ve got a Savior who is walking with me every step of the way.
And in this journey, I’ve learned that you have got to realize how much you have and how fortunate you are. And then you’ve got to start living and loving accordingly.
Sometimes, you just need to take a deep breath. I’ve learned that when you have faith in a God who has overcome the world, knows that you will experience trouble, gave His life so that you may LIVE, everything will eventually work out. He may not answer in the way that we would like, but He answers according to His will and His timing. And while we are waiting, His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).
He does not cause all things, but He does cause all things to work together for good. Jesus comes through. Even when you feel defeated, have no hope, and have turned your back against Him, He comes through. And because I have personally experienced that truth, I have so much to be grateful for.[subscribe-by-email-form]