Updated: Aug 31, 2019
It is currently late August in Texas. This means 2, very important, things:
1. It’s almost sorta-hot-summer, instead of dead-heat-summer.
2. College football is back, baby!
I logged on to Facebook today and saw that one of my “memories” from 6 years ago was going shopping for my first college apartment. My college experience was a whirlwind, to say the least. I spent my time in school experiencing periods of growth, going on lots of adventures, and studying (dun, dun). However, this time was also filled with sadness, confusion, and a whole lot of running away from the Lord. Sitting at 25, I wonder how different my life would’ve been had I chased after Jesus like I do now. I wonder how many reconciled friendships I would have, if I would’ve not been as reckless in my drinking, and if I would’ve ended up in a different place that I am now. It’s easy to feel like you have to be involved in everything, meet all the people, and talk to that one cute guy from your lab class – but, as I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered where life is truly found.
So, in honor of college starting back up again, I have complied a list of 10 things I wish I would’ve known in my college years:
1. Your first love isn’t ultimately your only love.
Earthly love comes and goes – but the love our Father shows us is eternal. I met my first boyfriend when I was in college and I thought he was the elusive one. We too often look at relationships with rose-colored glasses and think that once we find “our person” then we are suddenly complete. The truth is that our lives are only full and complete when we place Jesus in the center. Matthew 7:24-27 talks about how we are to build our foundation on the solid rock of God. Going into my first relationship, I put all my eggs in that basket. I was foolish and built my foundation on sand. When the “rains and floods” of the breakup came, the house I had built on my earthly relationship crashed (v.27). One important thing to note is that we are not promised romantic relationships. It took me a long time to understand that. We have sadly become a culture that takes our ideals and values and tries to twist God’s to match that – but, this is not the case. I stood on my own two feet before I was in this relationship, I stood on my own two feet when he left me, and I will continue to stand on my own two feet while I chase after Jesus.
2. Seek to find friends who pour into you, not empty your cup.
One thing you should know about me is that I like to talk in coffee mug quotes. One of my favorites is, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Looking back at the friendships I held in college, I wish I would’ve followed the saying, “quality over quantity”. I felt as if I had to be friends with anyone who would give me the time of day. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is okay to know a lot of people and be kind. I don’t think you should just ignore people and blow them off because you feel that your invisible friend quota is met, that would be really weird. Love everybody always, but also remember that you are the 5 closest people you put yourself around. If you are constantly surrounded by negativity, then you are going to be a negative person. Think about who you are surrounding yourself with – are they pointing you closer to Christ? Are they feeding you with Biblical truth? In the same way, is your circle filled with people you can encourage, equip, and engage with? If not, you may need to change your playmates and playgrounds.
3. Don’t seek to be the life of the party, seek to find a table at the Feast.
One of my favorite songs right now is called, “Fight My Battles”. There are a lot of versions of this song, but I prefer the Upperroom version. The song starts out, “There’s a table that you’ve prepared for me. In the presence of my enemies. It’s your body and your blood you’ve shed for me, this is how I fight my battles.” This comes straight out of Psalm 23: “You prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies (v. 5).” In college, I ran to alcohol, men, and partying to bring me joy. I ran to those things to define my worth. I aimed to be the center of attention and the life of the party. We are too often entertained by the things that Christ died for, and it breaks my heart that I partake in that – especially while I was in college. We should never take His grace lightly. When I feel like I need to be the center of attention or the life of the party, I think of the party that will be held when I cross the threshold into Glory. Now, THAT’S, a party worth crashing. Don’t seek to find your place in the world, find your name tag on the eternal table where a place is already made for you.
4. Feelings are not reliable.
If you even want to see how deceitful your feelings are, I’d challenge you to take a day to write down everything you feel. You’d be shocked at how often you can move from sadness, to anger, to happiness, to discontentment…it is truly unreal. Rely on the steadiness of Christ, not the unsteadiness of your heart. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Now, let’s jump over to Hebrews 4:15: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet he did not sin.” BREAKING NEWS: Jesus is our high priest. He knows what you’re feeling because He felt every single one of those emotions, too. Rely on Him, not your feelings.
5. Your body, your weight, and your appearance do not define your worth.
This honestly is a blog post in itself. I spent a lot of my college years worried about how I looked, how much weight I lost, and what others thought of me. All I have to say about this at this moment is: You are everything God created you to be, 1 Peter 3:3-4, and Psalm 139:14. *Mic drop.*
6. If you’re struggling with mental illness, do not isolate.
It’s so easy to feel utterly and completely alone – especially when you’re doing a lot of running in the opposite direction of Jesus. It’s okay to have Jesus AND a therapist, too. Seek help, reach out to someone, and don’t fight the battle of mental illness alone.
7. Don’t self-medicate.
I self-medicated with alcohol and this lead to a borderline addiction. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I think we are at our most vulnerable when we are putting toxins in our body to distract, disengage, and numb. I’d dig in really deep with what God’s word says in regards to using anything other than Him to help heal you.
8. Know your worth, not because of WHO you are, but WHOSE you are.
We are told in 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chose people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” You are worthy, because God is Holy and He calls you one of His special possessions. Do you get the weight of that? Think of the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen or experienced in your life. God created that, and He created you – He looks at YOU and says, “You are my special possession.” You are God’s favorite creation. You belong to God. You are created to praise Him with everything you are.
“But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has trouble of its own.” - Matthew 6:33-34
10. Sometimes you have to walk through a season of loneliness to find a season of abundance – and that’s okay.
John 10:10 says, “The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come so that you may have life and life abundantly.” Just because you may be lonely doesn’t mean that you necessarily alone. Right after I graduated college, I had a conviction placed on my heart to turn away from the party lifestyle. I moved further away from my playground, which meant that I left a lot of my playmates there. Sometimes the place God is calling you to may seem lonely, but He’s really just pulling you closer to Him. I can’t help but think of when Peter was walking on the water towards Jesus. This story is found in Matthew 14:22-33. I like to try and picture myself as Peter. When I do this, I can feel the wind, the rain, the storm…and I can feel the trembling of my hands because of the uncertainty: “Is that really Jesus? This doesn’t make any sense. I am insane.” I feel my feet standing on something that I shouldn’t be standing on, I can see Christ in the distance – but, my flesh takes back over and I snap to back to reality and I’m sinking. In verse 31 it says, “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.” Immediately Jesus caught him, and he immediately catches us, too. Take that step off faith towards God and keep your eyes fixated on Him.
As I have transitioned out of my college years to "adulting" years, one thing has been abundantly clear: Jesus over everything. Sure, following Jesus may cost you friends, relationships, or comfort...but He is worth it, He is worth everything. Just as we were worth everything to Him when He took up the cross at Calvary.
Thanks for letting me share,