This Feels Like Home

I arrived home on Friday; I’ll be here for a week and two days.

It feels different being home, even though most things have remained the same.

There’s one building on the downtown strip that’s been demolished and there’s different pillows on the chairs on my front porch.

There are many more things that have never changed, and probably won’t, in the rest of the time that I spend here.

But I have. I’ve changed. And I know a lot of people say that because the world is constantly in motion. People say that because they encounter experiences in their life that shape their worldview for a little bit but then they fall back into the same habits they had at the beginning when they’re placed back into the same situations and spend time with the same people.

This type of change is different, I think.

I’m running into people I’ve always known and I’m driving down the four main streets in my hometown. Everything is familiar, but everything is different. The view in my rearview mirror is different.

Instead of letting it be what it’s been to me, it became what I’ve always wanted it to be.

When I went to college as a freshman, I was looking for a fresh start. In a way, I “broke up” with my hometown like it was my ex-boyfriend and traveled a little over 405 miles to a new place with new opportunities.

And a new place with new opportunities is exactly I found when I came to Hope. I praise God for that every day, because when I walked in as a freshman, I would have never believed I would be in the place I am today – full of joy, patience, and new knowledge.

But my hometown and I had an awkward “breakup,” because there wasn’t really any resolution. Neither one of us really had an answer to some hard questions, and we left each other without really talking – falsely hoping the relationship would improve with us being further apart.

My assumption was that, by building a life somewhere else, I’d fix all the parts of me that were broken. I was incorrect.

There was a time that it didn’t get better; in fact, it probably got worse. But then, it did get better; and now, it’s the best it has ever been.

Porch Swing
So often, we swing close to the person we want ourselves to be, but when we’re working off our our own strength, we swing back to the person we were.

I’m writing from a couch in my living room, and I’m more than happy to say I have two homes.

One is Hope, and one is here. And as awesome as it would be to say that “making up” with my hometown was on me, with joy, I say it’s Jesus. He made the view in my rearview mirror clearer than it’s ever been before.

I never would have found Him without Hope.

The choices we make sometimes lead us to places where we can’t find peace. We know we messed up, but we can’t find the way out on our own. We can’t find a way to break our habits, adapt our character, and change our perspective permanently. As often as we try, we fail twice as much.

We often run away in attempt to find what we’re missing, and in effect, we gain more loss. And I wish I had a list of steps to take, a magic recipe to find that peace to keep us from running away, but I don’t. I only have one word.

Jesus.

I learned that instead of running from something, we have to run to something. And the only One who will stay constant enough for us to run to, the only thing that will still remain, is God. He’s permanent, He is never changing. He’s the only thing that was there before I was here and will be here long after I am gone.

For the first time in a long time, perhaps the first time in the history of ever, my house is home. And my hometown is home. And I’m at peace. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in a place that hasn’t changed, but feels brand new.

We love a God whose desire is peace, and He gives us peace because He loves us in return.


Glad I got over that breakup… thanks, Jesus.

Follow me @hopesophie17 on your social media outlets (I’m trying to get better with my Instagram, I’m really trying). If you have questions or comments about anything at all, I would love to talk. Please send them my way at sophie.guetzko@hope.edu.

Ambiguous Clockwork

We’re good at forgetting, but we’re better at remembering.

I’ve heard people say time changes us, but I can’t say I agree. I don’t really think it’s time that changes us – I think it’s us who change the time.

We sometimes say we want things to never change. It comes mostly during the nights we stay up until 4 AM in the common areas of our living spaces talking about life – what’s happening now, what’s happening where we’re going, but especially, what’s happened where we’ve been. Because more than what can happen in the future, it’s our past that holds on tight.

The end of the year is wrapping up quickly. It’s the end of my second year, and I have one more left to go. It’s difficult to believe that May 2016 will conclude my college journey.

Although I’m over halfway done, I’m convinced that things are far from being over. I’ve been blessed with a season this spring that has been a time of build-up rather than breakdown, and when this season concludes, by God’s grace, I’ll be standing on top of a mountain that I’ve climbed for so long – and I’ll be completely in love with the view.

It’s been a fight to get here, I think. College is a time to figure out who you are, sure, but I think it’s also a time to figure out who you’re not.

Freedom
There’s a choice we all have to make: to sit back in the chair we’ve always sat in, or take a chance and climb the ladder.

I look back at last summer and last fall, and I’m certain that I am no longer who I was. Sure, there are pieces that have tagged along with me. But I see life a lot differently now. I know new people, and think new thoughts, and create new words and phrases. I am hopeful that we all can say that – that we’ve changed, hopefully for the better, in one way or another.

We have a tendency to let our past drag us down, I think. We base our future off of who we’ve been, convinced that there are certain patterns that will always take place.

But have you ever considered the concept that our past, present, and future are all connected? Your present circumstances – your reactions, your words – have a direct relationship to where you have been and what you know to be true based upon the past. And your future circumstances – your perception of what is to come – is based solely on what you know to be true in the present, which is based on what you know from your past. There’s essentially minimal, if any, differentiation. And at any second, our perception of any one of them can shape our perception of all of them.

We’re working with ambiguous clockwork.

Define that, Sophie. Okay. Ambiguous is an adjective that means “open to multiple meanings,” and clockwork, well, it’s inner workings of a clock.

It takes one thought, or the lack of one thought, to change everything. There are multiple interpretations of what our present moment contains, what our insides feel, and whether or not our perception even exists at all. Because one second, we’re in the present, and the next second, it becomes the past.

Which brings us back to time.

We’re good at forgetting, but we’re better at remembering.

Have you ever noticed that we forget, we make the same mistake or discover the same joy all over again? That rediscovery is something that can change everything.

I’m not saying that we should be better at forgetting. In fact, it’s often important to remember. But I’ve noticed that our future choices are too often dependent upon what we have seen in the past. We leave blank spaces in our expectations only for new experiences – but even then, we’re prone to infer.

We’re all filling in the blanks for summer, even though it’s a new year, with new people, new places to find. We’ve had new experiences. Yet, we remember. We’re expecting some things to remain the same. The heat. Maybe the beach. Working, family, a break from school.

But I’m hopeful and convinced mine is different. That this summer will be entirely different than any other year. My plan is to live like a little kid – with a sense of wonder, joy, and minimal expectation for the things that are yet to come. To not let my inner clockwork get messy by thinking there’s only one way to tick, but instead keeping in mind that I can remain open to different interpretations of the same circumstance.

I want my time to be shaped by me, rather than me be shaped by time. As the school year is ending, my journey is just beginning.


Follow me @hopesophie17 to keep up with me this summer! Questions or comments? Post below or sen me an email at sophie.guetzko@hope.edu.

Go for Broke

I’ve been praying a lot.

But before that happened, I went on an adventure tonight. I hung out with friends, ate some food, went to a business meeting, saw love take shape in a bunch of different ways, and felt the cold weather we thought was gone for good creep back into our community.

And after all of that, I have this picture in my mind that really won’t go away, and because of that, I’d like to share it.

The picture I have is a room of funhouse mirrors (the ones that change your figure to make you look shorter or taller than you actually are).

I remember being a little kid and laughing when I walked into a room of mirrors that distorted the way I looked. Then I remember being a middle-schooler and feeling self-conscious. Being a teenager and thinking it was stupid altogether.

Being 20 and rethinking everything.

I’m tracking back to my roots and realizing something important: It’s hard to talk about being broken when we’re broken. That’s why it’s hard to talk about depression, why it’s hard to respond, “I’m having a bad day,” it’s why we can’t find the words to say at funerals.

Brokenness manifests itself in a lot of different ways. And it’s best disguise is the lie telling us that we’re not broken. It’s best disguise happens when we push it away.

In essence, brokenness is a mirror that distorts our perception. Sometimes we act like a kid, and we think it’s funny. Sometimes we’re middle school kids and we feel self-conscious. But most often, we never really leave our teenage phase of thinking that it’s stupid all together. Most often, we push it away.

I encountered a situation tonight that reminded me of the person I was at this time last year, and I’m convicted with joy to say that I am not the person I used to be.

There was a lie that I lived – one I had lived in for a long time – that whispered, “Hide your pain.” This translated into a lot of different phrases. “No one cares.” “You’re a burden.” “You’re not worth it.” Phrases I think that too many of us are telling our voices on a much too regular basis.

I got so good at this lie that I put up a front to try to hide the mess underneath.

But the lie started seeping through. I was short with people who were close to me, becoming frustrated with situations that brought up reminders of the past. Not only was I living with a broken past, but I was also breaking apart my present, which was crumbling my future. My heart was a mess.

I thought I was fine.

Then, this semester, something happened that I cannot explain.

By grace alone, God captured my full attention, and when He captured my full attention, He captured my entire heart. And He started fixing it even though my head told me it wasn’t broken. He started by tearing down walls and building up hope. Placing keys into locks and chains that I told myself I deserved. Replacing lies that were a part of my identity with truths that resounded with grace. He went all in – changing me, shaping me to become the person He knew that I could be. I began experiencing freedom, and now, I live in grace.

All of the messes I had been storing in my heart – bitterness, anguish, hatred, annoyance, frustration, guilt, regret, shame – replaced with love, kindness, goodness, gentleness, patience, joy, peace, self-control. I’m not perfect, I’m still a mess. But it’s a different kind of mess.

water, waves, broken, beautiful
Set free the locks that are holding you steadfast to the things that make you miserable.

This is the change that happened: I can talk about it. I can talk about being broken because God has redeemed it. He’s healed it. He’s fixed everything. I can tell you about situations from my past because I know they have no hold upon my present and no say in what my future will hold. We’re good at believing the phrase, “You’ll never change.” But the power of Jesus proves otherwise. He’s done a work in my heart that’s changed everything. And I know it’s nowhere near being completed.

If you want to be free, be free.


Let’s continue the conversation. Follow me on Twitter @hopesophie17– tweet at me, tell me what God is up to in your own life. (: Questions or comments? Post below or send me an email at sophie.guetzko@hope.edu.

Just a Train of Thought

I’m sitting in the library at a table on the first floor near the Cup and Chaucer by myself, and I might be alone, but I’m not lonely. The rain is falling against the window, quietly, but it’s just loud enough for background noise. A girl across the room keeps shouting, “Want to take a survey for free candy?” to everyone who walks in the door and in return, every person who walks past her says, “No.” She keeps glancing at me, and I keep looking away when our eyes meet by accident. I’m avoiding it, because I have “better things to do,” such as scroll through my Facebook timeline.

And I’m laughing now, because “better things to do” was a concept that made sense in my mind, but after writing it down, it’s completely absurd. Do you ever do that? Think about something, maybe overthink it so much in your head that when it finally strikes reality it becomes absolute nonsense? I realized something important.

Maybe my sight is too narrow.

Sometimes it's as if we're looking through the lens of a camera, and that's all that we can see.
Sometimes it’s as if we’re looking through the lens of a camera, and that view is all we can see.

There comes a time where there’s so much going around us that we become immune to our surroundings. Maybe it’s because our brain is talking too much or we want to remain under the radar or we’re too busy being the center of attention of a different situation. We operate on our own tracks, like trains, never crossing into unknown territory. The worst part is that I don’t think I’m really afraid; it’s more the fact that I never considered off-roading in the first place. It’s more ignorance than it is a lack of courage.

I guess that’s why they call it a “train of thought,” too. Because it has a tendency to go in one direction until it reaches the end. I wonder if I could change that, even a little, to create a path with many trails rather than to stick to what I know to be solid ground.


How are you stepping out of your comfort zone? Tweet at me @hopesophie17. Questions about Hope? Other comments you may have? Feel free to post below or email me at sophie.guetzko@hope.edu.

We Hope for Certainty, But We Stand in Fear

There are times we wait for courage, but it never really comes. Sometimes we wait for peace, or pure knowledge, or steadfast trust, but we lack the capacity with our mind and heart to accept it. We’re hoping for certainty while stand in fear, our knees knocking, teeth chattering, stress pumping through our veins.

There’s a verse that comes from Matthew 17:20, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Faith. Faith is what it comes down to, faith is what we truly lack. Nothing will be impossible when we have faith.

Consider it this way: if we are provided with courage without faith, we have no cause to be courageous. If we are given trust without faith, what are we trusting in?

Faith the size of a mustard seed, Matthew 17:20
Sitting on top of a giant rock in Denver last week, I realized something: I was safe sitting upon it, but I was terrified to fall off of it. And if Jesus is my rock, I want to be filled with that same fear every day, that I’ll never fall away His presence. That I put my full faith in Him that He will keep me safe as long as I remain in Him.

It’s been striking me lately that I have a tendency to lack in faith, especially in the small things. I remember planning my Fall 2015 class schedule last week and feeling terrified that I would not have the classes I required to graduate on time. But now, I feel ridiculous. I was able to register today and I received all of my first-choice classes. Last week I did not have any trust because I did not have any faith.

Faith the size of a mustard seed, the verse says. I’ve been meditating on it for the past week. I look at my life, and figuratively, I’ve seen mountains move. I’ve overcome obstacles and broken down walls to walk into the fullness of living in Christ. He has proven to me that nothing is impossible through Him. But it’s striking me now: What if the verse is literal? I’ve never seen a real mountain move. They’re huge.

A mustard seed is so small. What if my faith is so much smaller than even the size of a mustard seed? What if the faith that I see as “so large” in this world is smaller than the 1-2mm diameter of the mustard seed?

There’s another verse in Luke that I love, it comes from chapter 17, verse six: “He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

I have yet to see a tree be uprooted and planted in the sea, but there’s a tree at Holland State Park that I’d really like to try this out on.

When I scrambled in a search for trust, courage, and peace, and my search was to no avail, faith is the part I was missing. I wanted to be sure of myself, steadfast and certain, before I moved I ahead. It’s so much easier to be fully prepared. But I know now that life doesn’t work that way. It never has, and it never really will. That’s not the life God calls into, either. He qualifies the unqualified as we seek His kingdom and He protects and rejoices with those who put their faith in Him. We must project our heart’s desires ahead of us in faith, knowing He has already gone before us, to gain the courage and capacity to trust without knowing when it will be a reality.

We don’t have to scramble or search for these things, we need only to have faith in our Father.

Moses, who led the Israelites out of Egypt by faith, said it well, and I am hopeful it will be an encouragement to you today:

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today… The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14).


What area of your life is pushing you to have faith? Tweet at me @hopesophie17. Or if you have questions or comments, feel free to contact me at sophie.guetzko@hope.edu.

I Found You at 5,000 Feet

We explored the world from a mile high. We free climbed giant rocks, learned to love like Jesus, met a professional fighter, obtained a free t-shirt, slept on air mattresses that didn’t inflate, took partially cold showers, and ate a lot of PB&J. We swept sidewalks, talked a lot, and learned the truth behind what it means to be homeless. That’s how I spent my Spring Break.

I spent Spring Break in Denver, Colorado, at 5,280 feet above sea level. Ten of us, including myself, plus our leader, Professor Schoonveld, and his 8-year-old daughter, made a 5 AM trek via a three-hour flight to the Mile High city on Saturday the fourteenth. This Hope College Immersion Trip was one week that changed me from the inside out.

Denver Fam
Here’s my Denver family and the 15-passenger van we named Joyce, aka JOY(ce), because we’re a pretty joyful group. The selfie stick was the perfect addition to our photo taking capacity.

And while I was there, I found something that changed everything.

I’m doing my best at living life without putting boundaries on God (but I still fail often, it’s part of being a human). His ways are always higher than mine, and His ways are not my ways.

There are times I struggle to remember it, but when I forget, He never ceases to remind me. He’s so good to us.

Beyond the boundaries, I discovered something greater. I discovered the complexity of God. Obvious, maybe. But by being in Denver, I realized that somewhere along my journey I had lost my awe of the kingdom He has built here on the earth.

As we sat at the Red Rocks Amphitheater the first day, a thought occurred to me: God, you know every hair on my head, You know every crack and crevice in these rocks, and You know every space in this city. And still, You want my heart. You created a tree, but not just a tree. A tree with branches, big and small, with needles. And You didn’t stop there. You created leaves. Leaves big and small, different shapes, sizes, and colors. A thousand trees is just a glimpse of Your glory.

Through this, I tackled another realization: Who I am in Christ and who I am on my own are two separate identities. Too often, I try to hold on and raise my broken self up to be who God wants me to be. I fail miserably, trying to figure out why my past mistakes and bad habits are holding me back as I’m pursuing a relationship with God. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow me” (That’s a verse in Matthew 16).

I’ve spent so much time making this so complex, but it’s more simple than I could have imagined. I was in shackles to my past and mistakes, but Jesus set me free from all of that. He set me free, and the chains are lying on the ground.

But over and over again, I find myself picking the unlocked chains back up and dragging them with me everywhere I go. I forget that my identity in Christ has set me free. It’s like I’m carrying 50 pound dumbbells the instant I wake up until the time I go to sleep at night.

Could you imagine doing that in real life? Not only would we look pretty dumb, but it would also be exhausting. So, here’s the question: why do we do it all the time? Bitterness, anger, frustration, regret, guilt, grudges; they all build up and weigh us down, causing us to drag around burdens that have already been lifted.

It’s more complex to carry it around than it is to lay it at His feet.

God is complex, but His complexity allows for Him to meet us where we’re at, because He’s the only one who sees us as who we are: children adopted into His family by the blood of Jesus. And He is so amazing, so good, and so worthy of all of the glory.

Thank You, Jesus, for opening my eyes. For teaching me to love people in the way You first loved me. For giving me Your eyes to see the brokenness and the heart of Your Father to love people relentlessly. And allowing me to remember that You meet us where we’re at. You love us for who we are, not who we have been.


I did a poor job of documenting my trip via social media because I was having too much fun, but you can still follow me @hopesophie17 to keep up with my on-campus extravaganzas. Want to hear more, or have questions or comments? Send me an email at sophie.guetzko@hope.edu. Have a great week!

A Letter to My Past Self

Yesterday I was sitting on the carpet of my room, typing on my laptop, and a thought occurred to me.

“Isn’t it weird how one day, at a particular time, your brain reminds you of something you haven’t thought about in over a year?” I looked up at my friend, who was standing nearby.

“It is pretty bizarre,” she replied. Because at that moment, I remembered the blog I started during my senior year of high school. I typed in the URL and I revisited “high school Sophie.” Each post made me laugh, reminding me of all of the little things that seemed so big at the time.

I wrote for the moment, because I didn’t know where I was going.

So much has changed since then.

College naturally makes me move faster. I’ve entered my major classes, I’m closer to completing course requirements, and I’m counting credit after credit. I hear the constant question, “What do you want to do when you graduate?” and I have a Pinterest board for an apartment I don’t own. I act like I know what I’m doing, and I think I know where I’m going, but in reality, I scarcely know what will happen tomorrow, let alone the rest of today.

Little Sophie, you had it right.

There are so many things to enjoy right where you are. You don’t have to worry about falling in love and finals week of next semester or even what you’re going to wear tomorrow. Start now. Look at what you have right now. There’s no sense in living for Friday and leaving Monday behind. Each day is an opportunity to be a little closer to building the future, because we can’t build the future by starting there. We build it by starting now.

Typewriter
Sometimes [drawing] from past experience is exactly where our future should lead. (I drew this for an assignment in my drawing II class).

We take each grace, and take it day by day, leading us a little closer to the destination.


Questions as you continue your college search? Want to know what I’m up to? Follow me @hopesophie17. Do you have questions, or just want to chat?