5/16/2019

this little jar of clay


At the end of every April, my college ministry hosts Grad Night for graduating seniors to share their college testimonies and for other classes to show their appreciation for them. I'm still processing the fact that I was there a few weeks ago not to support someone else, but to go up on stage and give my own testimony. Graduation is also only four days away! Oh! Dear!

I'll admit that I was very hesitant at first to share certain things in my testimony because they're deeply personal to me—things that I'm usually not super vulnerable about unless someone specifically asks. But the more I ruminated, the more I realized that these things were what truly shaped my spiritual growth and my college experience. I think the fact that I was going to be sharing something so personal to such a large group of people made me tremendously nervous. I had butterflies, a pounding heart, and sweaty hands throughout, from the start of the evening and waiting for my turn in my seat to teetering on stage and saying thank you at the end of my sharing.

But praise! I managed to do it. And now, I think it'll be alright to be a little more vulnerable on here as well. I hope, in some way, that this will be a source of encouragement for you. :)

My name is Chaereen, and I’m graduating from Penn with a degree in psychology. After, I’ll be staying in beloved Philly to work full-time. I’m here tonight not only to testify of how our faithful Father has been patiently molding me these past four years, but also to remind myself that He was with me, is with me, and always will be with me wherever I go. While deliberating over what to share, I thought: what would freshman Chaereen, sophomore Chaereen, and junior Chaereen want to hear from a graduating senior? Each year came with many formative blessings, yet many agonizing struggles for me to tackle. From relationships and academics to depressive seasons and spiritual battles, it’s quite difficult to sum up.

So, this is my encouragement to my younger self—and to you:
the struggles are real, but they aren’t eternal. 2 Corinthians 4 says: “For God made his light shine in our hearts. We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; struck down, but not destroyed. Therefore we do not lose heart. Inwardly, we are being renewed day by day. So we fix our eyes on what is unseen, since the unseen is eternal.” I’ve learned that it’s really okay not to be okay. It’s okay to have days when you feel incredibly lonely, anxious, or plain worthless. During one of my lowest points in my second year, I locked myself up in my room and stared at the ceiling for hours on end, wondering if there was anyone who truly cared about me and if there was a point to anything in my life. Each new morning was unbearable to face. My heart felt so painfully empty, but so painfully heavy at the same time. However, it was through that challenging period that I met some of my most cherished friends in the GCC family group I was in. I now understand that God, with His perfect timing, introduced them into my life at that exact point so that I could witness His shining light in what seemed like perpetual darkness.

I have a scar on my left wrist that I left there when I felt I had no more hope before me. But today, there’s a cross that covers it, to symbolize that Christ drew me out of the deep waters and instilled eternal hope and purpose in me. I can attest with full confidence that God placed you and me on this earth for a very specific reason. He’s taught me that I’m never alone, because He’s my best friend. That life is indeed meaningful, because He created me. And that I’m actually cared for, because He’s the one who brought me to this loving church community that warmly welcomed me at Intro Night. He’s the one who sent me to Philly and gifted me with close-knit family groups and friends to journey along the walk of faith with every year. I know that the Lord has been constantly working in and through my life, sometimes in ways that I can’t imagine or visibly see. He’s never going to stop refining and pouring into this little jar of clay that I am, so I’m going to keep persevering and keep striving to seek Him with my whole heart.

Thank you to my supportive families, both back home and at GCC, who incessantly motivate me to live ever upwards and have stuck with me through thick and thin. Thank you to my dear friend Beccs, who went home to be with our Heavenly Father last fall before finishing college herself. Thanks, Beccs, for inspiring me to live every single day to the fullest. Thanks for reminding me that His way is my way and how lucky I am to be standing here tonight for His glory. And, thank you Jesus, for loving me, protecting me, and walking with me all my life.

^__^ ~ 💕

Much love,
Chaereen