It’s almost May. Graduation month. Exciting times!
It was just 11 years ago that I donned a graduation gown for the first time, put on the funny hat, and was granted freedom from high school. About 6 years ago I donned another hat, and said good bye to college. Graduating is good. Leaving behind the familiar is good. Entering into a new season in life is good.
It’s just hard. It can even be really, really hard.
During my years of college, I was a freshman for one, and a freshman mentor for the last two, and from my experience, the majority of new college students have this same experience. Going off to college is a huge adjustment. And even if you end up attending a local college, things change a lot.
I attended a liberal arts college. It was actually located about an hour from my hometown. Even though I was just an hour away from home, nothing was really the same. I had a new pastor, a new home, and the majority of my close friends were either back home or they had moved away to a different college. That first year was fun and it was not fun. I enjoyed making new friends, having new freedoms, and staying up all night studying (yeah, not so much). But at the same time, I missed the familiar, I missed my friends that knew me so well, and I so wanted to go back to my old, easier life.
The only thing that truly kept me going was that I had no idea what else I was supposed to do. And that is really all that matters, in college and in life in general. You just figure out what God wants you to do, and then go do it. And keep doing it, even when it gets hard.
Once I became a freshman mentor, I told every single one of my freshmen students that the most important thing was to just come back after Christmas break. And then to come back after summer break. And then it would get remarkably easy to keep coming back. Pretty soon you’d be graduating and they would have to force you to stay away. This wasn’t just my experience either; it has been proven time and again by research in higher education.
But perhaps this is more applicable than to just those of you who are headed into the circles of higher education this coming fall. We all, me included, need to be reminded that when things get tough or unpleasant, we should just keep heading toward where God last pointed us.
It was the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore year when I hit a really low point. Through a series of events, I became completely confused about where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be doing. I was lonely. I was very uncertain about the future. I cried on the phone to my mom a lot. I thought about changing my major. I spent many nights praying on a soccer field and I didn’t hear anything. Not knowing what else to do, I decided to keep my same major and go back for my Sophomore year.
The passage of Scripture that inspired me the most during that time is Psalm 138:8: “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.” It has become my life verse. One translation reads it this way: “The Lord will fulfill his purposes for me.” This verse is now tattooed on my spirit. It has guided me when everything was going wrong in my life and guides me with confidence that God has a purpose for me and will bring me through all things to accomplish His will through me.
Boy, am I ever glad I did. Within a few weeks, I had no doubt that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I was just going through a period of adjustment. God’s will for my life hadn’t changed and I simply had to endure that season of change.
And sure enough, years later I cried when I drove around campus for the last time.
Just keep this in mind as you head to college, or into any new adventure God has planned for you.
“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place.” Isa 43:1-3 NKJV
Love you all,