Jonathan Heffley writes:
After high school, I took a gap year before attending Asbury University this fall. I faced a lot of heartache, trials, and conflicts in this year. I went through a small bout of depression, lost a few friends, had no social life, and lost direction with my life. Once the summer came and went and I went to Asbury, I fell in love with it and didn’t want to come home to Shepherdsville or my family. I was so excited about starting this new and thrilling life full of new people and experiences that I tried to forget what I had here. This caused some conflict with my parents.
I love my family deeply, and I am extremely grateful for them, but I just didn’t want to be here anymore. I started to argue and fight with my parents a lot about coming home and keeping them updated with my life. To me, there wasn’t a whole lot to update them on from week to week because it was just school, and coming home was not important to me because there wasn’t much for me here anyways. I came home about once a month, plus breaks, wasn’t that enough? I was just ready to be away and be independent.
This prideful state of mind held a place in my life all throughout this Christmas break (12th of December, 2014-11th of January, 2015). It started out fine. I spent most of my time working and when I wasn’t working I was playing video games or occasionally out with some high school friends. But after the first week I was ready to get back, and get away, to Asbury. Once again I do love my family and my parents, but I just had this anxiousness I couldn’t explain that made me want to leave.
Once the New Year hit and I had spent a majority of the break either working or gaming, I grew a very hard shell around my emotions. I developed a very negative attitude and became angry, upset, and irritated by the smallest of things, which especially showed at work. After a few bad shifts and a few coworkers working on my nerves, I let the anger take control. As I continued working, I began cursing these people out in my head and not allowing myself any room to forgive or help them. A few particular coworkers really irritated me and I could literally feel my blood pressure rising and my hands shaking when they started talking. By the grace of God I was able to keep control and not yell at them, even though I wanted to so badly. I cooled down in the break room for a few minutes and finished out my shift. The rest of that night and the nights following went about the same. I had a very cold shoulder towards these people and some of my customers as well. I did end up snapping at a few people, but no mental breakdowns or yelling matches with people. Once I was home from work, I’d do the same thing to my family or friends who were trying to talk to me. This just caused more unrest in my house.
On Sunday I almost didn’t wake up for church (sorry, Daniel). But I decided to go and see everyone and maybe cheer myself up a bit. The very first Sunday of the New Year was one of the most impacting sermons I’ve heard in my life. Daniel began to preach on James 4, as well as my favorite verse, 1 Corinthians 9:27.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions (James 4:1-3).
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27).
God definitely meant for me to hear this sermon. He went on to say this at one point in the sermon: “Name-calling is essentially telling a person where they fit into your kingdom.” I immediately thought of all the names I had called people in my head in the past week and how ashamed I was of it.
Essentially everything I had been feeling was summed up in these two verses. I wanted to be away and to be back but I couldn’t, so I was murdering (not literally, but I was being very rude). I was fighting and wanted my own agenda satisfied that I didn’t think about the other people in my life. Most of the time my coworkers look to me to be the uplifting guy at work. I always have a song to sing, joke to say, or word of encouragement to help someone out and I was being a hypocrite this week.
After the sermon, I went home and apologized to my family and my coworkers that I had been rude with. I repented that day and let the anger leave my body and mind. Even when I felt it coming back, I just prayed that the Lord take control over it and let his spirit shine through me.