Friday, May 24, 2013

Changes, Challenges, and Unwavering Faith

            Before I left for college some adults told me that college was the time for trying new things and discovering who I was. They were right in a way. Especially during my first month, I was surrounded by new people and was constantly flooded with their ideas that were new and different to me. I now lived in a new state with a new and different culture. Being on a college campus offered me many new activities to pursue and groups to join. And I suddenly had an independence I had never before known. No one was telling me to study or to get up in time for my morning class. I could have chosen not to go to church, and my parents living a thousand miles away couldn’t have done anything to stop me.

            In this sense, the adults I was talking to were right. College is a time for figuring out who I am and being willing to try new things. But in one way they were wrong. Starting college, I knew who I was. I was a believer with the ultimate goal of glorifying God in everything, a creative writing major with the desire to be an author that shares the gospel in every story, and a young woman that wants Christ to be the center of her life. This is still who I am after I have finished my first year. My faith has been challenged, but has not wavered.

            But there have been things I have discovered about myself and new things I have tried that have changed me a little. For the first time I realized how much I need my own space. Not only as an introvert do I need to find time to be alone, but I also need a physical place both inside and outside that I consider my own. In my dorm room, my bed was lofted, and underneath I had my desk, dresser, and shelves. My “cave”, as my roommates called it, was perfect for me as it was somewhat separate from the rest of the room and I felt like I was in my own space. I also loved to invite people in- to show them something on my laptop, or to sit and talk on my bed. Outside, I found a place on campus that no one thinks of and no one visits. It is a small empty field, and when it is warm it is my favorite place to read, study, write, or just lie in the grass to pray or think.

            One new experience and adventure I had to embark on was finding a church. My parents and pastor helped with the search for which I am extremely grateful. But it was up to me to find a way to get there Sunday morning and figure out if it was the right church for me to attend. Though it looked like a good fit from their website and from the conversation my pastor had with their family pastor, I still had to visit before making my decision. But God was kind and brought me to the right church; a young woman kindly agreed to pick me up every week, they preached the gospel every Sunday, and I liked the college group that met for Sunday School. There were still challenges I faced, though. It was scary to have a stranger give me a ride, and also humbling to ask for help. Being in church lifted my spirits while at the same time made me miss my family and church family at home. And though I liked my church, I couldn’t help but compare it to my church home. But I have learned to acknowledge the good and bad aspects of both of my churches- to notice the things they do well and what they need to work on, but to accept the churches for what they are.

            Another adventure was singing with my roommates in a talent show. I have always loved to sing, but have been terrified of singing on stage for an audience. I was so scared, but we performed well, and more importantly I created a beautiful memory I will always have with me. I also took a step in overcoming a fear, so much so that I hope my roommates and I can sing again someday.
            My first year was full of good changes, challenges, and little discoveries about myself. Yet the most important part of me didn’t change; my faith will always stay the same.

Monday, May 20, 2013

God is Good

        My first year of college passed by so quickly. A year ago I was finishing up my senior year of High School and praising God for somehow giving my family enough money for me to go to college. It feels like I went to bed one day and when I woke up I was back home and my freshman year was over-  all of my college memories like the crazy dreams I sometimes have.

        But it is true. My freshman year of college is over, and as I sit here typing all I can think of is how amazing God is still and will forever be.

        God was good and faithful and by my side when I said goodbye to my family until Christmas break. God was good that first night when I hated my roommates. He was good when I realized how amazing my roommates truly were. He had His arms around me when one of my friends was thinking of transferring. She was becoming like a sister to me, and a piece of me would have gone with her. Though I thought I had no one to hold on to, God never let go of me. He was good when a good friend did transfer. He was good and faithful when I traveled with fellow students I didn’t know and stayed with old friends I hadn’t seen in ten years to get home and back. When my second semester got crazy with the extra credits I had to take, God was good, though I thought I was drowning. He was good through all my exams, a hard class, and a professor who thought I was too young for her class. He was good through roommate conflicts. Every time I longed to hug my dad, talk to my mom face to face, or quote movie lines with my sister, God was with me and was good in spite of the thousand miles that separated me from my family.
      The sun could fail and God would be good. He could have not provided enough money for me to go to college and He would be good. My friend could have left and His goodness wouldn’t have ended. My family could all die, and though it would be hard to say, God would still be good. He is good because He is God. He owes us nothing. The fact that He created us is amazing to me. But not only did He create us, He loved us. He loved us so much that even though we sin He doesn’t destroy us- even though He has that right. Instead He sent His only perfect son to die in our place.
      When I am tempted to get mad at God because of a situation in my life or hardships I am going through, I must remember that God is good. He is more than good. He is goodness itself. He has given me eternal life despite the wretch that I am. How could any trial in this life matter?