02/07/2020

By Ashley Chang '23



For me, college started off easy.


"Hi, my name is Ashley."


Sometimes, people forgot my name, but for the most part they didn't. I waved at strangers all across campus, plastering on a smile while trying to remember what made them laugh.


"Hi."


"Howdy!"


I knocked on people's doors at midnight, asking if they wanted to play cards. A half-empty cup of soda lay on the floor, slowly fizzling out. We wondered whose it was.


"Maybe it was one of the corner peeps."


“Maybe it was Tom.”


"Maybe it was—"


Sometimes I forgot people’s names.


"You were saying?"


Classes started off fun. Homework was minimal, and everyone wanted to talk. Most of us had little in common, but still...


"What classes are you taking?"


I grinned and then rattled off my go-to speech.


"English, Math, Computer Science..."


I prepared my responses too.


"Physics is cool. I think.”


I held up my thumbs, then started making right hand-rule finger guns. We half-smiled at each other, and then the professor started speaking.


“The beauty of science lies in math…”


I started taking notes on paper, and they pulled out a tablet. My thoughts grew louder as I quieted down.


Who should I get lunch with today? When? Where?


My penciled lines looked thin and crisp. I tapped my feet against the floor. I felt my phone vibrating. A text from my Dad.


How are things going so far?


This one was an easy question, and I thought of the prayer I'd just prayed.


God, things have been good lately. Real good. Thanks.


My mind felt empty, and I wondered if this was what it meant to be happy. The professor kept speaking, and I held my phone under my desk.


going good! will call soon!


My phone buzzed with a reply.


good to know!


I left the text on read and then started to take notes. For a moment I thought about vectors and their crossing, but then I looked down at my hand. It was shaking.


Zip!


It was two minutes till the end of class, and people were already packing their bags. I pulled out my phone.


Call you this Sunday, okay?


I returned to my dorm.


"Ashley!"


My computer’s FaceTime window was open, and it showed my parents smiling. Mom's phone seemed to be held too close to their faces. Dad wore a sports coat and Mom's sweater shimmered. My living room glowed yellow and then blue.


"We miss you!"


I wanted to say the same to them, but I didn’t know if I could. A Calc textbook lay on my desk, already worn.


"Me too!"


I placed my hand in my pocket and searched for my phone. A text from one of my friends showed on the screen. I swiped away the notification and then opened my phone.


"I've been making more friends lately. I've got pictures here, if you want to see."


I held my phone in front of the webcam.


"Yes! I'm really happy for you, Ashley."


My Mom smiled, and my Dad grinned. For a moment I felt like taking a picture here, of screenshotting this moment right now. But then my Dad spoke.


"Ashley, have you been praying?"


There was a pause in the moment, and I wished I could say something more, but I was thinking.


"Yes."


The hesitation was loud, but really, I wasn’t lying. A faded blue notebook lay on my desk; it was filled with prayers. Dear God, they started. Dear God, I like how things are going. Dear God, I'm happy. Dear God, I...


Dear God.


"What have you been learning?"


For a moment my smile slipped, and then Dad's did too. He shook his head at me. I looked away.


"Well, things have been going well," I said, quiet for once. "Things have been going great."


The pause was short, but it was as loud as could be. I listened in for a voice I’d been forgetting.


Dear God, they all started. But what had He been saying to me?


"Just remember praying is more than just speaking," Dad said, and he paused. A few minutes later, he hung up. My phone lay limp in my hand. My prayer journal’s pages were slowly tearing.


Dear God, I thought to myself, but there were no Bible verses coming to mind. What had He been saying to me? Why hadn’t I been listening? My diffuser tilted off the edge of my drawer and then cracked. The sound was deafening. I covered my ears. But then, in the middle of the chaos, I heard a still small voice.


It was a quiet sound in the back of my mind, but I heard it this time.


Pray.


So I opened up my prayer journal, and flipped through my Bible. I turned on my lamp and then paused.


Dear God, I wrote. And that was the start.


The sound was quiet, still, but I wasn’t waiting anymore.

_______________


Dear God,

Ezekiel 1:

Ezekiel is cool to read. He really is in awe of your glory. I need to be more in awe of your glory. It’s so amazing and such a fundamental part of my life, but maybe that’s why I take it for granted. God, being a Christian really is just so awesome. I need to clean my room tomorrow.


Love,

Ashley

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