GOOD MORNING, ABILENE

Contrary to the title of this post, it’s not morning here. Not nearly, though I wish it was. I’ve always been a night owl, but the problem with that is that I begin to miss the sunlight.

I’ve always been a bit of an optimist. A sarcastic optimist, often, but deep down an optimist. I’ve also never really been able to pinpoint what I want to do with my life. The answer to the question “So what do you want to do with your life, Maggie?” has always been one that I’ve answered with some level of excitement and assuredness that yes, this is what I want. Even if I knew that wasn’t what I was going to stick with. For a long time it was English teacher, then at the beginning of this semester when posed with that question by one of my favorite humans, Mel Hailey, I gave a brutally honest response: Lots of things. I want to be a Disney princess in Florida one summer, Dr. Hailey (“Well, you can’t be that forever! Haha. What’s a more long term plan?” was the gist of his response), I want to be a writer, I want to help people, I want to be a pub/bar church/music venue owner.

One of the most beautiful things about studying abroad is that you fall in love with far away, wondrous places and amazingly relatable, human people. Nothing could’ve prepared me for how much I fell in love with people. Barcelona, Vienna, Budapest, Dublin. St. David’s, Haverfordwest, and Broadhaven, Wales. The people are just people. And that’s what makes them remarkable and wonderful and loving. And on this trip I realized that I never want to leave them, and that now I know for sure that I am one of them. We’re all one people, and we all have this amazing capacity to hope and to love. I guess you could say I woke up.

So now, when people ask me what I want to do with my life, I smile. I say, sometimes often too fast so that I receive confused looks and have to repeat myself, that I want to work for something like a humanitarian organization. Something where I can help people and love them. My ideal job would be one where I get to fight for people, and love on kids all day, and give a home to those who need it. I guess that’s not a job though, it’s a vocation. And I can’t wait.

But before I can go out there, I want to finish college, graduate from ACU with a degree in International Studies, concentrations in Europe and the Middle East. I want to go on and get my Master’s degree (hopefully from Trinity College in Dublin), learn languages, and learn more about God. Right now, in order to finish the first goal on this list, I’m in this little class called Terrorism Studies. Exciting, right? Actually, it is really interesting, and I know that I’m going to learn a lot. However. It’s hard to stay optimistic when I’m sitting in a classroom for an hour and a half hearing lecture over the evils of radical groups who like to use bombs to get their point across, to show everybody that they mean business. No matter how much you know that it isn’t true, it’s not fun to know that there is a group of people out there who consider you to be pure evil, The Great Satan. And then I go to work in the Political Science office, and even though I’m surrounded by some of my favorite people on campus, I’m also watching the news. And the thing about 24 hour news is that it repeats itself over and over again, so you see a story about a school shooting covered three or four times without any new information since the first one and it makes you sick and then there are three shootings within two days and there are women who are so hurt that they are threatening to blow up civilians and there are governments who are using chemical weapons against children and there are kids who don’t have parents because their parents were killed in the genocide and there are parents who don’t have their kids because Kony took them and suddenly the world isn’t full of hope and love and you’re stuck, and whether you pray or not sometimes it feels like nothing will be okay for those people and you lose your hope.

And that’s where I’ve been off and on lately. I’ve been engulfed by this grey cloud since late last night. After work today, I went straight home. Not dorm home, home home, and I stayed there until 10:00. I spent an hour just hanging out with my dad, and I started crying and telling him why I was upset (he’s one of those people who can always tell when I’m off) and instead of the simple “Don’t worry, it’ll be okay” that I have given out before when I don’t know what else to say, he just talked with me. He talked about how it seems bad now, but it will be okay, eventually. Something’s always wrong. But it’ll be okay. We talked about how we’ve made it this far, we’ll keep on surviving.

He’s right. Because in all of that bad, there’s always hope. We as humans have this really insane and beautiful knack for taking up arms and radiating hope, love, and determination, even in the face of peril. We’re never going to give up. One of my favorite books, Looking for Alaska by John Green, includes one of my favorite quotes: “When adults say, ‘Teenagers think they are invincible’ with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.” (My only qualm with this is that it seems like all adults have lost hope, but if lack of hope is the measurement of adulthood, I refuse to grow up.) The human spirit can only be broken if we let it be. The one thing I have control over is my soul, and whether or not I choose to crumble or snap. And even when I give up, God can fix me. He can put me back together again, and does over and over, and it’s amazing.

When people ask me what I want to do with my life, I smile, because the simplest, most honest answer I can give is one that they are not looking for. It’s not a doctor, or a psychologist, or an actress. It’s that I want to experience and contribute to humanity, I want to show God’s love and see it working around me, and quite honestly I think that’s perfect, even for someone like me who messes up often and would rather listen to AC/DC than the Newsboys just about any day of the week. And sometimes I get the “Oh Honey” shake of the head at my “innocent outlook” on life, but those people completely misunderstand. I don’t love people so much because I think that humanity is spotless. I love people so much because we choose to fight when we must, and there’s a light that seeps out of us that cannot be squelched out by any darkness, and I want in on the battle.

God gives us an unlimited supply of hope. It’s hard to get to sometimes, but it’s there. He’s always there, and we needn’t fret or be dismayed. We never need to fear or lose hope. But even when we do, God’s there to catch us if we let Him, no matter where we are in the world, no matter who our parents are, no matter what language we speak.

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