by Jennifer Bowman
January is over. And I always thank God for that. I loathe the month of January. It's dreary; it's a constant reminder that Christmas is over and a new semester at school has started. Then it's always cold and dry, or wet and just warm enough that it won't snow. The weather hates me.
February is a little bit better at least. There's Valentine's Day, right? Or for some: Singles' Awareness Day. For me, it will mark the first real Valentine's Day that I've ever had a significant other. I've been dating a certain Daniel Martin for about six months now, and it's a somewhat bizarre experience. I've never dated anyone for this long. And I'm not really quite sure I've gotten over being single on every single Valentine's Day for my entire life. So despite having a boyfriend, I'm still bitter, mean, and cynical towards all things pink and romantic on the 14th of February.
I've realized, actually, that I'm pretty much bitter and cynical about everything. I mean it: everything. The other day in my Contemporary Math class (an easy math class which I took despite having an ACT score putting me into College Algebra - it was a mistake, I tell you!) a girl walked in while the professor was praying. At Lee, professors pray before class, which is a welcome change from public school. But this girl - she was late, first of all. This irritated me. Yes, occasionally I am late to class, work, etc. but I still get irritated when someone else does it. But it's not just that she was late.
She had with her a plate of pineapple pieces, a coffee cup, and a bottle of water. And when I say plate, I mean a nice, ceramic plate. I know that in college you're pretty much allowed to quietly snack in class unless the teacher says otherwise - but I found her bringing actual kitchenware to be slightly disturbing. She made lots of commotion during prayer, getting arranged in her seat, actually talking to the guy next to her as she passed him by. She ate. She didn't close her eyes, or stand quietly, or sit still. The grand finale, right before the prayer was over: she blew her nose. Got out a tissue, and blew her nose. Not quietly. I wanted to kill either myself or her, but preferably the latter.
This event angered me throughout the entire class period, while she continually talked about her new lip ring or said loudly, "I DON'T GET IT," after the professor had explained it for about ten minutes.
But I recently had the pleasure of listening to Shane Claiborne in chapel. Basically, he was one of the coolest and most interesting Christians (and people) that I've ever encountered. He spoke on how he'd been arrested in Philadelphia for feeding the homeless, and had his Bible taken away before being put in jail. Ultimately, he had the laws of Philadelphia changed. He worked with Mother Theresa. He'd gone to Iraq to preach love to the Iraqis. He had so much Christian love in his heart, and he loved Jesus so much, and it was visible not only through his words, but his actions.
Sometimes I feel like I don't even know how to express love with actions. In fact, some of my actions directly clash with the very idea of love. All I have is words, and words mean nothing when not backed up by actions.
So hopefully, this February, and for the rest of my life, I can learn to really show people the kind of Christian love, forgiveness, and grace that Shane and so many others do on a regular basis. I can forgive obnoxious girls in class who annoy me. I can be less demanding with everyone around me. I don't know if I can drop out of school and live with homeless people - but maybe I can start by washing away my bitterness to become someone who truly has Christ in their heart.