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Treading Water

Treading Water

I’d been treading water, unable to muster up the strength to swim into the horizon of ocean spread before me, a horizon that lost its intrigue in all but memory; yet all of this floundering still required energy, a slow drain rather than the burst of a kick, the momentum in the following stroke. I was tired of going nowhere. For a Type A personality, feeling out of control and disorganized is disheartening.

After a series of conversations and self-reflection, I realized that my sense of disconnectedness started in the summer. My boyfriend had broken up with me, but it was less the breakup than the ensuing loss of a friend—my best friend—that was such a blow. And simultaneously my support system disappeared, leaving our college town for grad school, city lights and jobs elsewhere. I’m an extrovert; I make friends easily. But there’s a depth of friendship that comes from having entwined your life with another’s for years that you can’t just build in a few months. We need others we can trust, others who are willing to call us out in love when we’re wrong, others who will pour their lives into us and to whom we can return the favor.

I’d stayed in Ann Arbor, Mich., convicted that I should work for my church for the next year or two, but my enthusiasm for that—and the difficult work of raising funds so I could have a salary—waned. I forgot my purpose, at least in any meaningful way. And while on the outside I could make my life and activities sound good if I tried, I’d lost my passion for God. We still talked, but it’s hard to relax with someone when you’re half-afraid of His judgment, convinced that He’s disappointed in you, disappointed by your failures. Even reassurances that His grace could overcome my mistakes couldn’t break the static inertia.

Then I went to the Onething conference in Kansas City, Mo. I spent a week with God, in worship and prayer, and I was reminded that He doesn’t just love us because He’s supposed to, He loves us the way a new groom is awestruck by His bride. And this was tangible. I hate crying; in fact, I flat-out refuse to if I’m around anyone—it’s both a fear of vulnerability and distrust of emotion. But during that week I spent more time in tears than I have in a long while, hidden in a mass of 10,000 people and trying desperately to hide my face. God spoke so clearly to my disappointment in myself and to my struggles, and He overwhelmed me with the knowledge that He thinks I’m beautiful, that He rejoices over me even in my frailties: “You have ravished my heart, my treasure, my bride. I am overcome by one glance of your eyes” (Song of Songs). He’s exceedingly happy when I talk to Him, not saddened by my weakness. This is unconditional love. This is a love I cannot earn by charm or accomplishment or my own virtue—and this is a love more real than the computer I’m typing on now.

For the first time in months, I’ve regained my sense of direction. I’m no longer just treading water—I’m swimming. And approaching the horizon has regained its feeling of adventure.

[Dawn Xiana Moon is a singer/songwriter soon to be on staff with University Reformed Church in Ann Arbor, Mich.]

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