I SAT IN MY DORM ROOM staring staring down at a page of text and feeling lost. Everything seemed just too familiar—the posters above my bed, my potted plant, the bookshelf, and the words I was reading in the weekly Bible Lesson. I could remember sitting in that exact spot not long ago, feeling content and confident. But those feelings were gone—replaced by apathy and uncertainty. I was used to feeling engaged with the Lessons; reading them helped me find answers to my everyday questions, gave me comfort, and challenged me to understand new ways of thinking about life. Yet, this time the words on the page seemed like reruns, frozen in time and inaccessible.
A few weeks earlier, I had started to ask all sorts of questions—about life, about love, about human relationships—because things were going wrong. I had just ended a great relationship and wasn't really sure why, I felt stuck with a new, unrequited love, and I was feeling underqualified, both in my job and as a student. Life seemed hard, and in its face I was frustratingly passive. After some specific moments in which I really tried to pray for direction, I came away feeling only that I was separated from God and therefore excluded from His help. While I appreciated uncovering this feeling of distance from God as the true culprit of my problems, being able to say to myself, OK, so you aren't feeling any real connection to God right now, wasn't exactly inspiring or progressive. The temptation to feel like a victim of circumstance was strong, and my sense of self-worth plummeted. I found myself looking for validation and approval from other people in order to feel stable and productive.
I knew I needed to trust that my pastor was just as easy to interact with as any personal pastor would be.