I’ve been thinking about this doing post for a while, but something like this deserves to have ample time dedicated to it and on this rainy Monday, I finally have that time. I could write a book on what I learned freshman year, but I’ll settle for a blog post. Freshman year was a true rollercoaster for me. It was all things good and bad, and sometimes both at once. Through all the mountains and valleys, one thing remained constant: God’s effortlessly radical pursuit for me. And wow, He was good. I’m hoping this stays (relatively) short, but I know it probably won’t; either way, here we go!
His plan is not my plan– and thank God for that.
If you had asked me at the beginning of the year where I’d be this summer, I could have given you 10 possible answers, and none of them would be where I am right now. At the beginning of freshman year, I thought I had my life figured out. I thought I knew exactly who I was and where I was going, and I was stubbornly stuck in my earthly and restrictive view of my life.
Once I found and started regularly attending my church (life altering), I realized that I was not at all who I wanted to be. I wanted to be the freest version of myself; the kind that runs relentlessly after a God who never fails and never lets anything get in her way. The kind of strong woman I had admired for as long as I could remember, the kind of woman I could be proud of. The sad part was that I thought I was that person until I started being discipled and poured into by my community. They showed me all the broken parts, but not in a way that made me feel bad about them. They loved me so intentionally through every bump in the road, reminded me where my identity lies and showed me what it really meant to be a woman of God.
In order to start the process of becoming who God designed me to be, I had to make a lot of changes. A lot of them hurt, and a lot of them left me feeling broken and lost. They left me questioning what kind of God was leading me from my comfortable and familiar life into unchartered territory, off a cliff and plunging into the unknown.
Here’s what it boiled down to for me: I am either going to be a woman who says “yes” to God, or a woman who says “no” to God. I believe God is who he says he is. I’ve read the scripture and experienced enough of Him personally to know that trusting him is never something I regret. So I jumped in and followed him off the scariest cliffs. And when I jumped, He led me to greener pastures and calm waters.
His plan didn’t look my plan at all, because His was always better. Choosing to trust him, no matter how foggy it made my future seem, led me to the deeper clarity of Jesus within me, and there is truly no greater gift.
Prayer is powerful.
Admittedly, I was *that* Christian at the beginning of the year who would say “I’ll pray for you!” and never did. I never really prayed. I felt weird doing it out loud, and I fell asleep too fast or just forgot to do it at all when I did it in my head. The first week of small group, I met Hannah and Audrey. Two words to describe them? Prayer. Warriors.
They pushed me to pray with such passion that I actually started to believe them when they talked about how powerful prayer is. I’d heard it all before, but nobody had ever lit up and had a passion for it that was contagious. They prayed with me, over me, and for me when I couldn’t find the words. Most importantly, they made me into a prayerful woman.
One of the most powerful things God taught me this year is that he listens to me. Not every prayer I prayed was answered- but a lot were. Whether that be in the way I had in mind, or in His perfect way, prayers were being answered. By opening my mind and my heart to Him more and more every day through prayer, I began to see him work in ways I never expected. Most importantly, I began to rest in the comfort of knowing that even if my prayers weren’t answered, He still heard me.
Faith demands action. Action demands trust.
A lot of the time, a prayer required an action. A prayer for an opportunity to show someone Christ required me to take that opportunity when it came. A prayer for an opportunity to lead required me to ask about leadership positions and apply. A lot of the answers I was so frustrated were not being provided to me were in the Bible. I frequently found that the things I was wishing I had or could do were right in front of me, waiting to be taken. This made me question: Is having faith that doesn’t alter your life and make you take action faith at all?
I learned the importance of immersing yourself in biblical community. Volunteering at church, leading at Cru, being poured into and pouring into others is what helps build the foundation that will hold you up when life knocks you down. One of the most influential things in my life this year was discipleship. I participated in a 12-week discipleship program through my church and had an individual discipler through Cru. These reminded me that I am not alone, but also kept me accountable for taking action for my faith that I had been putting off.
The biggest thing I learned is that I am not responsible for anybody’s reaction to my outreach, but I am responsible for trying. Once I came to terms with this, some of the fear I had surrounding certain situations seemed to fall away. I trusted that if I was walking with the Lord and being obedient to His calling on my life, it would all be okay. I was responsible for my walk with the Lord and going where he led me. I was responsible for taking action on the opportunities God provided for me- the rest was on God. And who better to trust?
Freshman year God taught me more than school did, and that’s the knowledge I’ll always remember and be thankful for when I look back on college. This coming year, I am going to be wide open to wherever God wants to take me. I will follow Him off of every cliff, through every mountain and valley. I will be a woman who says yes to everything He asks me to do, and I know I’ll have my Church family to fall back on when I get scared. What a year.
Jesus, thank you for being the best professor of all. I can’t wait to be a student my whole life.