My fifth year of college ended a week ago, and as I stand here at the finish line and look back at the past year, I can’t help but be so incredibly overwhelmed at all that has happened. As I’ve outlined many times in previous blog posts, this past year has been riddled with more trying times than I would have liked to experience, but with those times came a lot of growth, and it is because of this growth that I would not have done this year any other way. As I look back at all of the experiences I’ve had, there was a lot of grief, but there was also a lot of strength. As I went through each experience, there were five top-of-mind things that I always kept with me, and I would like to encourage anyone reading this to keep these things in mind also.
1. Be Bold
Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
I’ve always been the type of person who has enjoyed being within the constraints of a comfort zone, but one thing that I’ve learned this year is that you will never know what it truly means to live and be happy if you aren’t at least a little bit uncomfortable. I made it a point this year, especially through opportunities with Cru, to intentionally step out of the box that I had put myself in and release myself into the unknown. Although some of the things I consider to be “out of my comfort zone” don’t seem like that big of a deal in other people’s eyes, they were all steps of faith, no matter how slight, for me. From pursuing friendships and closer relationships to removing myself from toxic situations, it all involved some level of courage and realizing the strength I didn’t know I had before.
2. Be Humble
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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
-2 Corinthians 12: 9-10
Pride has definitely been something I always struggled with. There have definitely been times where I couldn’t help but put myself up on my high horse and think, “I deserve this. I deserve the thing I want.” This pride was especially tested this past week when so many of my friends and other people I knew were closing the undergraduate chapter of their lives and graduating from college. Let me just say, it’s not the most fun thing in the world to see all of your friends that you’ve known since freshman year finish and filter out of college, and here you are being left behind and fighting feelings of inadequacy. The only way that I could find peace with this situation is by telling myself that I can’t be comparing myself to others all the time. Everyone is on their own path, and God has put me in mine for a reason. It finally dawned on me that I don’t “deserve” to graduate. I don’t “deserve” anything because, truth be told, the world doesn’t owe me anything. I may tell people this out of facetiousness, but the only thing I can do for myself is to live my best life.
3. Be Patient
Jesus Heals A Woman and Jairus’ Daughter
-Luke 8: 40-56
This story was shared during a sermon one Sunday earlier this quarter, during a time that I needed to hear it the most. I had just gotten news that I would not be eligible for financial aid next school year, and needed to find some way to pay for school, whether that was taking out more student loans, finding another job, or simply putting it all behind me and moving back home, deferring my graduation indefinitely. The only way I could think of to solve this problem was to endure and persist and work as hard as I could to find another job, whether it was a second part time job or working full time in order to pay my way through school. I did everything I could to make this happen, from trying to find connections and wedging my way into a job position to applying for any and every assistant position I was the least bit qualified for. But after sending your resume to the umpteenth open job posting, you can’t help but feel like you’re shouting into the void, forever pushing application after application into a bottomless pit.
Finally, at the peak of all of this, I went to a Sunday service, and as soon as the pastor said the word “patience,” my attention immediately turned to him and listened as he told the story of Jesus healing a dying woman and resurrecting Jairus’ daughter. The takeaway from the sermon was to be patient as you wait for God to work on your life. You might be going through a rough time, taking blow after blow, wondering why God isn’t responding when you call out to Him. The important thing to remember is that your timing will never match up with God’s perfect timing. He might be letting these things happen because these circumstances are preparing you for something else about to happen. Hard as it may be, you have to give all control to the Lord – you’ll find that all this time that you’ve been waiting for Him to heal you of your ailments, He has been preparing you for your resurrection.
4. Be Motivated
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
-Romans 5: 3-5
With all that has been dumped on me this past year, there were definitely moments of great defeat, and mornings where it was incredibly hard to get out of bed knowing that I still had a cloud of life issues shrouding me. I burdened myself with unrealistic expectations, and I pressured myself into making it look like I have it all together. I did all of this to the point where I found it difficult to just get through any day. It did help that I had such an immense support system around me, comprised of the Cru community and my parents and sister, but at the end of everyday, it was me that had to go to bed that night with all of those things looming overhead. I finally decided that I couldn’t take it all on by myself, and that I couldn’t solve my problems at the end of the day like an episode of Full House. During a drive back home to Sacramento a few months ago, at the height of all of this stress, I heard God speak to me loud and clear (a beautiful moment that I would love to share in person, if anyone is interested in hearing more). He told me, and still constantly tells me, to be patient and to just keep going. Finally, the overwhelming fear of failure was taken over by an overwhelming feeling of peace. Getting through each day is easier now, and I credit my faith in God for the determination and motivation I feel everyday.
5. Be Strong
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
-Philippians 4: 12-13
With all of that being said, and having snapshots of the past year sit in my back pocket, I know that I have been put through so much this year for a reason. Whether it was all to humble me or strengthen me, in the end, it was all supposed to bring me closer to God. During moments where it would have been so easy to turn my back to God, I pursued Him instead. I pray for strength, motivation, patience, humility, and boldness everyday, and He provides. Whether it was in the most subtle or overwhelming of ways, God has been there for me, and He will always be there. It’s only when you look back that you realize how God has been working on your life to get you to where you are now. In another year, I can’t wait to look back on today and see how much further God has taken me.