Some Lessons From College: What I’ve Learned So Far

Last week, I started my first day back to college for the fall semester—after a summer that flew by way too fast.It was also my first day of my third year of college, which feels funny to say, considering the fact that it seems like just yesterday that I started my first year as a nervous and excited college freshman.

Since then, I’ve learned a lot. About myself. About life. About my faith. And though I still have a long ways off until I graduate, I feel led to share about what I’ve learned so far, and my personal journey as a Christian college student. Hopefully, if any of you are going into college, or in the midst of the insanity of college life, you’ll find this post insightful and helpful!

So, without further ado…here is my list on how to survive as a Christian college student! 

  1. Find a community of believers who share your faith – This is so important y’all. I cannot emphasis this point enough. As Christians, we weren’t meant to do life alone. This is a point that’s emphasized time and time again in Scripture, and through the example of the early church in Acts 2:42-47. Furthermore, Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”                    Depending on the college that you’re attending, there is a very good chance that you’re going to be a minority in your faith. Even if you’re going to a Christian college, it is a good idea to get plugged into a smaller club/Bible study/church where you can meet people on a more intimate scale. College life can get pretty hard, but it is so much easier when you have a solid group of Christians in your circle to do life with.
  2. Stay close to God This is an important one for any stage of life, but when you’re in college, it takes on a whole new urgency. College is a time filled with changes. Odds are, you’re probably going to change your major at some point, and a lot of people even change their career path during college. You will probably also have a lot of changes to your schedule and sometimes, even your state. This can be pretty hard for a lot of people (especially if you’re and ENFJ like me!) and staying close to God will give you the security and solid ground that you’ll need to endure these changes. College can be a time for real growth in our faith, but if we don’t actively pursue God through prayer and Bible reading, it can be all too easy to miss out on the lessons that He is trying to teach us.
  3. Ask Questions – For many people, college is a time when people really start thinking about what they believe and why. Many Christians see this as a bad thing—but it doesn’t have to be. I have learned so much through the questions that I’ve dared to ask and the answers that I have found. I would never detour someone from asking hard questions about their faith – because there is no question too big for God to answer. So dare to ask questions and think critically about the world around you. Read books. Listen to lectures. Engage with your faith and make it your own. Asking questions doesn’t mean your losing your faith – it means that you’re growing in it.
  4. Life probably isn’t going to go as planned…and that’s OK – When I got to college, I thought I knew exactly what my plan was. I was going to do two years at a local community college and than transfer to one of my state’s universities. I was going to major in teaching or psychology and than become a teacher. I was going to work at one part-time job all through college. However, when I actually got to college, everything changed. I still am taking classes at the local community college, but rather than going to the university I was planning on, God led me to get my bachelors’ through Liberty University Online with a double major in Linguistics and Theology. I still am working towards becoming a teacher, but there was a journalism detour along the way. And I did get that part time job—but it closed down a few months after I started working there—leading me to a brief office internship and later, to a position at a different store in the same mall. Long story short, nothing turned out the way I thought it would. But God’s plan was better than my plan (isn’t it always?). And now, as chaotic as it was, I’m thankful for every experience that God has given me.
  5. Stay true to your convictions – In college, you’re probably going to meet people who live pretty differently than you. That’s almost inevitable. And as we probably all know, sex, drugs, and alcohol aren’t exactly a rarity on most college campuses. But as a Christ-follower, you have the power within you to stand against temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.Through Christ’s power within us, we can stand courageously against peer pressure and the attacks of the enemy – and dare to live original and be a light in a world surrounded by darkness.
  6. Study what interests you – In college, we have an opportunity like never before to study the subjects that we find interesting. You need electives for your degree anyways, so why not take the time to study things that you care about? You want to become a better communicator? Take a public speaking class! You want to improve in your creative writing skills? Do it! You want to learn more about politics and policy in America? Go for it! You’re only in college once, so take full advantage of the opportunities that God has placed in front of you!
  7. Schedule, schedule, SCHEDULE! – If there’s one thing that any college student will tell you, it’s that time is valuable because in college, you don’t have a lot of it! Between part-time jobs, classes, and church activities, your schedule is going to be full! The good thing is, if you’re careful to plan out your time, you can usually get everything done with some free time still available. Make a to-do-list, or get a daily planner. Prioritize, and decide what’s important and what you can do without. In the words of a quote I found online, “You gotta make it a priority to make your priorities a priority.”*
  8. Have a healthy view of your GPA – Grades are super important in college. Many of us know this and have been preparing all through high school to succeed in college. And for those of us aiming to get into a post-bachelors program, the pressure is all the more real. However, never let your grades define you. There is so much more to life than getting that A+ on your exam or making the dean’s list. You have inherent worth as a Child of God that is not rooted in your grade point average—and there is nothing that you can do to change that! So work hard and study hard, but never put your grades in the place where God should be.
  9. Find Godly mentors – 1 Peter 5:5-7 says, “In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”[aHumble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.Having godly Christian mentors is such a blessing, and I am grateful to all of the older women who have spoken into my life through my transition from high school to college. I would highly recommend finding someone (or a couple of someones) who can speak into your life, and help you through the ups and downs of college life.
  10. Have fun – You’re only in college once, and one day, your going to look back on these days as a faint memory in your rearview mirror. Make them count, and take advantage of the blessings and opportunities that God has placed before you.
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My first day of college back in 2016.
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My first day of college this year.

How about you? Do you have any advice that you would give someone in college? Or any experiences from your own college days that you’d like to share? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below! 

*This quote is by Riche Norton, whoever he is.

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When Worlds Collide: Some Thoughts On Christian Dating

I’m going to be honest. I have a serious weakness for romantic comedies/dramas. 

Like a lot of people, I love movies like Sweet Home Alabama, A Walk To Remember, and Sleepless In Seattle. Not to mention pretty much every Christmas movie that they play on Hallmark in December.

I love seeing both characters grow through their relationships. I love seeing the thrill of first love. And of course, I love happy endings to a perfectly fitting soundtrack.

But, if there’s one thing that most of us know, it’s that love isn’t always as simple as it is in the movies, is it? There are bumps in the road. There are complications. There are a lot of Taylor Swift songs. And there are a a lot of really hard decisions to make, forcing us to ask, “What is God’s will in the midst of all this?

Since I’ve graduated high school and started college, I’ve seen more and more friends move into relationships and ask really good questions. Questions about knowing if they’re ‘the one’, navigating fights, dealing with emotions, and establishing boundaries. Even as a single girl, it has become pretty clear to me that relationships can be hard. And, if we don’t come at them from God’s perspective, they’re only going to be ten times harder.

I’m going to be honest, I don’t claim to know everything about this. I’m not an expert and I certainly don’t have any kind of relationship-certification. But as Christians, we do have two things that we can always turn to with our questions: God and His Word. If we continuously go to God with our questions about this, He’ll lead us in the right direction. And, as I’ve been seeking to better understand God’s will for relationships, I’ve come across some advice that I believe is a good starting place when it comes to dating.

The first thing, which many of us are familiar with, is to be equally yoked. I can’t stress enough the importance of this one. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” This is not to say that we should never interact with unbelievers, as Christians we are called to be salt and light in this world (Matthew 5:16). But, our closest interactions should be with those who share our values. And in dating, our boyfriend or girlfriend should always share our core beliefs and convictions. 

The second, is to pray about the person that you are dating (or, the person that you would like to potentially date). Ask God what His will is for your life and ask Him to reveal it to you. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Here’s the thing guys, God has a plan for your life. I don’ t know what it looks like, but He does. And if marriage is part of His will for you, than He’ll reveal the person that you’re supposed to be with when the timing is right. In the meantime, trust Him with His perfect timing.

The third thing is to look at their character. What kind of person are they? What do they care about most? Do they love God? Are they kind to those around them? What kind of father (or mother) would they be (assuming you want to have kids)? These are all vital questions to ask yourself when you like someone. A love for God, a love for people, and a desire to live life God’s way are some of the most important qualities to look for in a person. These things will all affect how they treat you and how they treat those closest to you. Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” These are all important qualities to consider when you’re looking to date (or court) someone new.

The fourth thing is to understand their personality and yours. As human beings, we are all fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image (Psalm 139:14). We were each made for a divine calling and purpose. And we are all given different strengths, gifts, and personalities. And more than likely, your boyfriend or girlfriend is not going to look exactly like you. Thus, it is so important that we take time to understand the other person. Are they introverted, or extraverted? Do they make decisions based on logic or emotion? Do they like to have a schedule, or are they more spontaneous? With personality, there is no ‘wrong’ way to be, but it is important to understand both yourself and the other person in a relationship. Romans 12:6-8 addresses how we are all created differently, with different strengths, as it says “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

Fifth, listen to the input of your friends and family – Oftentimes, our first instinct is to be defensive of the person that we like, and ignore the input of others. However, as Christians, it is so important that we listen to what our friends and family have to say about the person that we’re dating, because oftentimes, they can see things that we can’t. I would even advise asking common friends about them before going out with them, asking if they see anything that could be a potential red flag in a relationship. Proverbs 16:20 says, “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.” The people closest to us will always have our best interest at heart, and if they see a lot of red flags in the relationship, than it is best to listen to them.

Sixth, work on the other important relationships in your life – There is so much more to life than romantic relationships and dating. And though there is often pressure from society (and sometimes, even other Christians) to get into a relationship, it is totally OK to be single! Singleness is not a curse or something to be ashamed of – Paul was single and so was Jesus! And whether married, dating, or single, it is important that we make our relationship with God our top priority! It is also important that we maintain strong relationships with our family and friends. Not to mention, grow in knowledge, faith, and compassion as human beings. Marriage temporary, but our relationship with Christ is eternal. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31.

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How about you guys? What advice would you give about relationships and dating? And what do you believe are important qualities in a potential spouse? Let’s start a conversation about this in the comments section below!

 

How To Have With A Crush (Without Going Insane)

It happens to all of us, doesn’t it? The first butterfly. The sinking realization. The late nights agonizing over them.

The person who has suddenly taken up space in our mind and left us with one-too-many love songs on our playlist.

The person who it could never work out with, yet who leaves us with shreds of hope that someday, somehow, maybe it could.

The whole thing can be absolutely maddening sometimes. 

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We’ve all dealt with the agony of a crush at some point or another. It’s one of the few experiences we as humans deal with that’s nearly universal. It has been the topic of songs, books, movies, and TV shows. Ross’s crush on Rachel (Friends). Corey’s feelings for Topanga (Boy Meets World). Practically every Taylor Swift song ever. We have dealt with the pain of an unrequited crush.

Nonetheless, as stressful as it can be, I do believe there are some things we can do to make the whole thing a little less agonizing.

  1. Talk To Someone – One of the worst things we can do when we have a crush is to keep the whole thing bottled up inside. Oftentimes, talking with a close friend can help lessen the intensity of the situation, giving you the chance to talk through it and get some of those bottled-up-feelings out in the open. It is not always wise or feasible to confess your feelings to the person you like, but it is smart to have someone to confide in, who can help you walk through the very difficult and awkward situation of having a crush.
  2. Pray for them – One of the best way to deal with feelings that you don’t know what to do with is to channel them into something productive—and what’s more productive than prayer? It can also be wise to pray for yourself, and ask God to lead you through your circumstances with wisdom and guidance. He’s always someone we can confide in and though He may not magically make the crush disappear or bring you to a relationship with this person, He will make the whole thing easier to deal with.
  3. Trust God – God knows the entire course that our lives will take before we’re even born. He knows how many hairs we have on our head and He knows each and every one of our hopes and dreams. He also has plans for us when it comes to relationships—whether it’s a marriage and family or a call to celibacy with lots of close friends around, both which He will equip us for and give us the strength to live out. If it’s God’s will for you to be with this person, He’ll orchestrate things for you guys to be together. If it’s not, trust that He has something better for you down the road. No matter what path life takes us down, God always has our best interests at heart.
  4. Be their friend – As hard this can be when we have strong feelings for someone, sometimes it’s best to just be their friend for the time being. As much as the ‘friend-zone‘ is bemoaned as the worst situation to be in when you have a crush, I believe it is still better than nothing at all. It gives you the chance to get to know the other person on a deeper level, and if the circumstances someday allow it, it creates a great foundation for a future relationship.
  5. Don’t loose focus – One of the most frustrating things about having a crush is how distracting it can often be. It can be so easy to spend time wallowing in self-pity, watching movies, and listening to dramatic songs on replay, but it’s important to stay focused on other aspects of your life besides your crush. You have and always have had more in your life besides just them and it’s important to remember this fact. Go out with friends, accomplish some goals, and read some good books. You still have one life to live to the absolute fullest, crush or no crush.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

How about you? Do you have any on dealing with a crush? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!