Your Story Matters

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved stories. 

I have always loved the feel of the pages in my hand. I have always loved journeying with a character through the chapters of their life. I have always loved the feeling of crisp new pages in my hand, and the smell of a brand new book, just waiting to be opened. I learned to read at the age of three and I haven’t stopped since.

However, stories do not just exist within the pages of a poem or novel. They exist within in our lives. And every day, as we live, we are adding a new chapter to the story of our life. 

I have always felt that life is, in some ways, like a story. We are the characters and God is the author. He creates us and molds us into the person that He wants us to be. He places dreams, hopes, and desires within each one of us that we can use to serve His Kingdom. And sometimes, he allows us to face trials and plot twists—all so that we can grow and experience character development in the grand story that we call life.

Chances are, you likely have quite a few chapters in your story that have already been written. If you are in middle, high school, or college, than there is a good chance that you have already experienced God’s faithfulness in various points at your life. You have likely already had experiences that have shaped you. You likely already have a testimony. And if you are alive and breathing as you read this today, than I fully believe that God wants to use your story for His purpose and glory—and that you can impact lives right where you are, all through choosing the brave path of sharing your story. 

Maybe you’re reading this today and thinking to yourself that your story isn’t very interesting. I’m here to tell you otherwise. The belief that your story has to be big and dramatic to impact those around you is a lie straight from the enemy. Though those big, dramatic life-altering testimonies are inspiring and powerful, they are not the only stories God can use to impact lives. Sometimes, even the most ordinary examples of everyday faithfulness can speak volumes about God and His power and presence in our walk with Him. 

In fact, just the other day, I saw this truth in motion as I had an old friend text me out of the blue. We haven’t talked in months, so we had a lot to catch up on. I asked her how school was going, and she said it was going well. She told me about her involvement in a campus ministry at her university. I told her about the church that I’ve been going to ever since just before summer. She told me about her boyfriend, who she’s been dating for over a year now. Basically, the typical stuff of college and life.

However, as we talked, we eventually got into more personal details of our lives, and I had the chance to tell her about a situation that I’ve been dealing with over this past school year. When I finished, she texted back a response. She told me that she thought it was so cool that I could see that this situation was for God’s greater glory, even though it has been hard for me. I had the opportunity in this moment to direct the praise back to God, noting that He has been teaching me to trust Him more through this situation.

After we finished talking, I couldn’t help but let that conversation play over and over again in my mind. Never once would I have thought that I would have a testimony in the midst of this situation, but God turned that moment into the chance to inspire a friend in her faith. He used my story to impact another story. And this is really the essence of the Christian life—changed lives changing lives. People spurring each other on in the faith. Christians lifting up the name of Jesus through their life!

And I’ve had so many people encourage me in my faith through their own lives. I can still remember one incident a while back, where I felt like I was so behind on being an “adult“. I was still in the process of trying to get my driver’s license and I felt young compared with the rest of my friends. I felt like I was lagging behind and I was far from where I always wanted to be at that point in my life.

During this time, God spoke into my life through someone who said that they also felt behind on “adulting” and where they thought they thought they would be at this stage of life. Here they were, older than me and dealing with many of the same struggles. God spoke through this person and helped me to feel more OK with everything—just through this individual’s obedience in sharing their story. And if I were to think long and hard about it, I know I could come up with a thousand other incidents like this—where someone else’s story has impacted my own. Where I have been encouraged by another believer’s testimony. Where someone else’s faithfulness has impacted my journey.

This week, I want to encourage you to let others into your story. To share about the times that God has been faithful—in the midst of the good, the bad, and the ugly. To live your life as a testimony to God’s love, power, and faithfulness.

To inspire others through the power of a story. 

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How about you? Have you ever been impacted by another person’s story (or testimony)? Or have you ever had the chance to impact someone else through your story? If so, feel free to share about it in the comments section below—I’d love to hear your story!😃

 

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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.