Here I Am

Birthdays are strange times—they offer arbitrary yet significant marking posts along life’s path, allowing me to stop and take a breath, to reflect on where I’ve been, where I hope to go, what has changed, what has stayed the same. There are some things that all of my birthdays have in common—time with friends, questions about what the next year in my life will bring, talking and celebrating with family (sometimes in person, sometimes via phone). This year, I sit on the 9th floor of my dorm building, looking out across the snowy city with splotches of water emerging from the thawing, snow-covered river. It is 20 degrees but I am cozy inside with my Ecuadorian sweater and a hot cup of tea. My body is contentedly tired from an 8-mile run through Boston’s history, my stomach is happily digesting my mother’s pumpkin bread, and my ears are filled with music from my brother. Over the last few weeks, I have been on a roller coaster of emotion—wondering where I will be living next year, how I will be serving, what language I will be speaking. I’ve been imagining myself teaching English in Madagascar, working with Swahili immigrants in Australia, collaborating with churches in Argentina, fighting for immigrant rights in Seattle, coordinating volunteers in DC, tutoring students in Minneapolis, and engaging in intersectional theology in Chicago. My heart has been pulled in every possible direction but today I’ve found a bubble of calm. I am content and hopeful, still curious about the future but distracted with reminiscing and marveling about where life has brought me this far. Four years ago, I was in another transitional phase in my life. I had applied to colleges all across the country and was nervously waiting to hear back from them, wondering where I would go, what I would study, who I would meet. Wondering where God was calling me to go. Choosing where to go to college was the most nerve-wracking decision I have ever made and I had no idea if I was making the right choice. But now, as I sit on the other side of that decision and look back on these years, I can see God’s fingerprints everywhere—from the first time I sat in the Marsh Chapel pews on Sunday morning to eating homemade pretzels this past Tuesday with both old and new friends in the chapel kitchen. I see God entwined in the music of the choir, the struggling and discerning in my blog posts, the support of my fellow undergraduate interns, the hard questions, the welcoming space, the countless home-cooked meals, the constant and steady presence of the chapel building at the heart of campus, the wisdom from the pulpit. So even though I face another nerve wracking decision that seems even more life altering than the decision of where to go to school, I am taking comfort in the fact that God will be with me wherever I go. Last semester, I used verses from Jeremiah 1 and Psalm 139 from a place of reluctance and inadequacy. But today, I use them as verses of comfort—reminders of God’s presence and call. In the first chapter of Jeremiah, God says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you… you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.” And Psalm 139 continues in the same vein:

Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me.

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

You discern my thoughts from far away.

You search out my path and my lying down,

And are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue,

O Lord, you know it completely.

You hem me in, behind and before,

And lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

It is so high that I cannot attain it.


Where can I go from your spirit?

Or where can I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there;

If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.

If I take the wings of the morning

And settle at the farthest limits of the sea,

Even there you hand shall lead me,

And your right hand shall hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

And the light around me become night,”

Even the darkness is not dark to you;

The night is as bright as the day,

For darkness is as light to you.


For it was you who formed my inward parts;

You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

That I know very well.

My frame was not hidden from you,

When I was being made in secret,

Intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.

In your book were written

All the days that were formed for me,

When none of them as yet existed.

How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

I try to count them—they are more than the sand;

I come to the end—I am still with you.

These verses remind me that, while it may not always feel like it, God is eternally present, walking along beside me, leading me, calling me to follow. So as I sit here on my 22nd birthday looking out at the city that has been my unexpected home for the past four years, I am at peace. I may not know where God is calling me to go yet but I know that God is calling me and so all I can say is, “Here I am. Send me.”


In the words of the Holden prayer:

O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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