1. Transition is hard, but it is so good. And trust me, I would know. The past seven months of my life have been the biggest transition period I have ever gone through in my life. I graduated high school, spent a month in Guatemala, turned 18, moved off to college, went through heartbreak, had many exciting firsts (like jumpstarting my roommate’s car by ourselves), and I am still learning how to be an independent adult. However, through all of this change, I can say that I am much happier with where I am now than I was with where I started. I would not trade any of the experiences, the good or the bad, for anything in the world because through all this change, I have learned so many valuable life lessons.
2. Write everything down. Then you can go back and see the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord. I journal every morning when I have my quiet time and like I said, I have had a lot of changes in my life in the past months, and through it all, God’s presence and plan for my life has been so evident. It is insane to see every little detail of God’s plan come together in perfect harmony in his timing. However, I often miss those little details if I do not write them down to remember. Like when I prayed for good friends in college, and God did not bring them right away, but after saying “TRUST ME” and making me rely on HIM as my best friend for a while, he blessed me with a few beautiful friendships. That leads to the next lesson…
3. When we give God the desires of our hearts, he will fulfill them… in his timing. This is so important. If we are truly living for God, our desires will align with what he wants for us, and we have to trust that he is faithful to provide. Since last year, I have had a desire to minister to middle and high school girls, so I was hoping to find a church in Lynchburg where I could get connected to a small group of them or something. It turned out, the church I ended up getting plugged into didn’t really have a good opportunity for me to do that, and I just felt this passion in my heart that God was calling me to reach that age group. After that door had been closed, I prayed about it a lot, and a few weeks later, God opened up an opportunity to audition for a traveling discipleship team through Liberty called YouthQuest. The team of 20 Liberty students goes to churches in surrounding states on the weekends and hosts a retreat for the youth group there, leading small groups, sermons, and workshops. After a painstakingly long, two-month audition process, I can now happily say that I have been accepted to fill one of the two open spots they had on the team, and now I will get to spend almost every single weekend next semester pouring into the lives of middle and high school girls! Point being, waiting on the Lord for him to fulfill his purpose for you is NOT always easy and it takes patience and prayer, but it is so rewarding.
4. I do not need a man to complete me. And nor do you. I’ve never been one of those girls who has to have a boyfriend all the time, but I still enjoy having one, ya know? It’s nice to always have someone who is willing to talk to you all the time and someone who will love you (hopefully unconditionally) and will go out of his way to express that love. But you know what?! I already know someone who does that, and it’s Abba, my Eternal Father. HE is willing to listen to me all day long, HE loves me a million times more than any man ever could no matter how hard he tried, and every day, HE is pursuing me, going out of his way to put breath in my lungs, to put things in my daily path to make me belly-laugh, and blessing me with abundant life. And I think if he can do all of that, he will bring a man into my life not to complete me, but to add joy to my life when he knows I am ready for that.
5. Weakness is not bad but a time to become stronger in the Lord. So, another big thing that has been part of my transition this semester was being sick for a month with mono. Basically the whole month of October, I felt like crap off and on. Sometimes I would have my full energy, and ten minutes later, I would be sacked out in my bed at 2 in the afternoon. I literally had to rely on God to give me the strength and energy to get through the day sometimes. Looking back through my journal, God spoke to me during this time saying, “Come to me my beloved. In my arms, you will find rest.” 2 Corinthians 12: 9-11 says, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
6. It’s okay to be an introvert sometimes. So, if you’ve known me my whole life or even since middle school, you know that I used to be SO SHY. I was definitely an introvert all the way. But a big part of what God has done in my life is bringing me out of my shyness to be used by him to share the good news of the gospel. The past few years, I have had no trouble standing in front of big crowds talking or even preaching in front of a congregation, but for some reason, college has given me slight social anxiety sometimes. I have also simply learned that I like small, intimate groups of people much more than large groups. But honestly, I also just love being by myself sometimes. I can definitely recharge the most when I just spend time in my room doing homework or spending time with God rather than out in the common area or library.
7. Stress is somewhat optional. I know that sounds silly when you have 18 credit hours your first semester like I did and you have to get a certain grade on your final to pass the class or get the grade you want. But let me explain. So, last year in high school, I was stressed. This year in college, I have more work to do, but I am not stressed. This is because I have learned that “stressed” is a mindset we put ourselves in. I let myself become overwhelmed with how much I had to do in a short amount of time last year, and worry consumed me. This year, I knew that I had a lot of work and studying to do, so what did I do? I did not worry about it. I just did it. I probably ended up saving time because I spent less time stressing about it and more time actually doing it. God commands in Scripture, “Do not be anxious about anything.” “Do not worry about tomorrow.” “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Choose to not stress by giving your worry and anxiety to God.
8. Choosing God takes work, but it is a simple pursuit. This lesson actually led to the new blog title, Simple Pursuit, because that’s what I want my life to be. Following Jesus doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t mean that there’s a list of things that you have to do every week to “keep your salvation.” It looks like saying “yes” to the Lord’s plan for your life every single morning and obeying his promptings wherever they may lead you. And it takes discipline to listen to the Holy Spirit because oftentimes what he tells us to do is uncomfortable. Francis Chan says it best, “We never grow closer to God when we just live life. It takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness.”
9. An accountability partner is the biggest blessing ever. I heard it at church, God told me, and then I heard it again in one of my classes: You need an accountability partner. Finally, after that third prompting, I prayed about who I should ask and God very clearly led me to one of my friends, Natalie. So now we meet together weekly and talk about our sins, things we are struggling with, our prayer and Bible time, whether we are living out our faith, what God’s teaching us, and end in praying for each other. It is truly the biggest blessing to have someone to open up completely to about these things because I know that Natalie won’t let me continue in bad habits but will gently encourage me towards change. If you do not have someone like this in your life, start asking God who he might want you to ask, because I genuinely believe that everyone needs someone to hold them accountable.
10. I cannot do everything. In high school, I was the person who helped lead like 5 clubs and did tons of random stuff throughout my years at church like worship team, youth group, volunteering, and more. I have found out this semester that I cannot continue to grow in my own faith while being overcommitted. I went into college knowing this because I ended up so burnt out in high school, so I intentionally did not join lots of clubs or get myself involved in a ton of commitments, and it ended up paying off. I waited to see what the Lord had for me because all I knew was that I wanted to serve him in the best way possible, and what he has called me to right now is YouthQuest, so that I can minister to younger girls. We need to evaluate the talents and skills the Lord has blessed us with and serve him in those areas because he has given us those gifts for a reason.
Here’s to God and Liberty University for giving me the best first semester of college, teaching me countless lessons, and blessing me with new friends, lots of food, and a stronger faith. (FYI, I did NOT gain the freshmen fifteen…yet.)