I went to a great college with a great president who loves his God, loves his students, and loves his job. After I graduated, I realized that at other schools, not everyone has a great president who walks so closely with them. It really is a shame, because as far as leaders go, this guy knows what’s up. This particular president specifically spends some time pouring into the student leaders on campus. He recognizes their unique stance among the population, and doesn’t waste any time getting to know them and equipping them with enough motivation to change the atmosphere of the school. He’s probably the most inspiring man I’ve ever heard speak; his words give you the strength to pick up cars.

At the beginning of my senior year, he spoke to the group of student leaders I was honored to be a part of.

He asked three questions. He told us to write them down, and to start each and every day with them. I wrote them in the front of my Bible, on my bathroom mirror, on the first page of my planner. I almost got it tattooed on the inside of my eyelids. (Kidding. Kind of.)

Three questions. 

Who are you?

What are you doing?

What difference does it make?

Virginia Woolf once said “The man who is aware of himself is henceforward independent; and he is never bored, and life is only too short, and he is steeped through and through with a profound yet temperate happiness.” Delicious.

 

A blog I recently stumbled upon published a post from a new friend. She boldly asked those first two questions beautifully. She, along with the writers and editors of this blog, beckon readers to believe in the power of story, to not be afraid of the honesty of those questions, and to search deeply within themselves to find the answers.  Who are you and what are you doing? Nail-on-the-head important. But I think the president of my college beautifully and gracefully pushes them just a little bit further.

What difference does it make?

This is my attempt to answer those questions for today. This is not your story, it is mine. And my answers might be different tomorrow. But for today, this is my unafraid journey into these questions.

Who are you?

I am a 20 something mover and shaker with a zest for life and an affinity for spicy foods. I am a Californian born-and-bred, wavy-haired sassy little lady, attempting the deep-fried-southern life while living in a small town outside of Dallas, Texas. I am a passionate believer in faith, hope, and love. I am a stumble-while-I-follow Jesus fan, and I am overly enthusiastic about every single day. I am a shower-singer, a car-dancer, a diet-coke-addict, and a surprisingly hilarious individual. I’m a morning person, an extrovert, a writer, a reader, a laugher, a WOO-er (hey, StrengthsQuest, heyyy), a loud-mouthed and opinionated fire-cracker. I’m a call-it-like-I-see-it, let’s-talk-it-out kind of woman and I rarely take “whatever” for an answer. I am a story-teller, a story-seeker, a story-believer. I am over the top awkward, unafraid and underpaid, and a hell of a fun road-trip partner. I am a Type A control freak with tendencies toward OCD, but I’m working on it. I am a love-not-war-er, a communicator, a friend and a sometimes-failure. But I am always trying new, trying bold, trying fun. I am a daughter, a friend, a sister, a graduate, a girlfriend. And a self-proclaimed dork.

What are you doing?

I am working in Dallas in a job I have wanted for years. I spend most days working with students, for students, around students. I am brainstorming ways to make their college residence life experience much, much better. I am learning from my colleagues, asking all the right questions, impressing my bosses. I ask students hard questions, and then I pacify them with an ever-full candy jar. I listen to their stories. I tell them mine. I learn how to love them, based on their stories and the story of Jesus.

I am living in a college dorm-room-turned-apartment built sometime in the previous century. I am living on a budget, prolonging the time in my life where I own things like mortgages and couches. I live in my job and work where I live. Quite the fluid life.

I am in love with a boy I never thought I would deserve. And I am learning every day more and more why I actually do deserve this kind of love. I am spending time with him, opening up to him, texting him, day dreaming of him, writing notes to him, taking pictures of him, learning him. My joys are doubled; my sorrows are cut in half. I am in a relationship that I thought only existed in my mind, and I am loving every moment of it.

I am reading and writing, more and more. I dream of a day when story-telling and story-hearing can be my only job. I am discovering myself in other people’s stories. I am constantly finding my own, without reshaping it. I believe in the power of story. Telling it like it is, for the truth and gross that it is. The best part is seeing the good that comes from gross.

 

What difference does it make?

Hmm. As I sit writing, the words up until now have flowed out of me like an overturned bucket. I barely had to press “delete”; everything fit together perfectly and beautifully. And now I’m stumped. This is the part that changes every day. As an honest woman, I can tell you that some days, I make no difference at all. So I'm stumped. But here goes.

 

Two lives.

I had a gross story, years ago. I had a gross life. A different life. I did things, said things, promised things, and repeatedly messed up things. I was up to my ears in sin, and I was completely aware of my deliberate disobedience.

I have died to that story.

“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” [Galatians 2:20]

 

I have died to that life.

“Go into the temple courts, and tell the people the story of this new life.” [Acts 5:20]

 

I have a new life.

I live every day free from the bondage of sins. Free from the chains that bind me to the patterns of this world. Free from the need to be accepted, to be tolerated, to be loved conditionally.

Because now, in my new life, I am not only accepted, I am delighted in by the King of kings. [Zephaniah 3:17].

Now, in my new life, I am not only tolerated, I am chosen. [Colossians 3:12]

Now, in my new life, I am loved unconditionally. Nothing will ever change His love for me. [Romans 8:38-39]

 

One direction.

The difference is that now my life has been made new, by a God who specializes in redeeming the ugly and broken parts. The difference is that now my story is about redemption, grace, forgiveness, and love. My story involves the gospel of Jesus Christ. Scratch that -- my story cannot be told outside of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I recently asked a new friend how he knew his "ugly" was behind him. He answered that, the whole time he was living in addiction, he felt like he was living in a jungle. His entire view was crowded by vines and branches, winding and turning their way up and down, back and forth. He was constantly stumbling and turning himself around. The air was thick and hot.

And then one day he walked into a clearing. The jungle was still there, but it was behind him. Slowly becoming smaller and smaller in his rearview.

Yeah, it's kind of like that.

I am a forgiven daughter of a redeeming God who has granted me child-like love to live every single day.

And that makes all the difference in the world.