Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What God Has Put Before Me


 She posted a photo of a pie today. It looks warm even in the photo- warm and worthy of a cooking magazine. And I wish I could have helped one of my dearest friends on a day I felt so lonely. I wish she could have taught me her pie baking secrets, and then we could have talked and sipped warm drinks while it baked.

 But I'm not there; I'm here, almost one thousand miles away.

 These feelings of wanting to be in a different place are not uncommon for me. Rewind to about six months ago. Instead of paying attention in class, I am writing. The class had sounded interesting when I signed up for it last semester, but now it's just another three credits I need to graduate. The professor drones about a book I haven't read and don't wanted to read, so like most of the other classes, I begin working on my novel to avoid the professor's monologue. 

 But instead, I find myself with an idea for a blog post. I write about how though I am tired of this class, tired of paying attention and bored out of my mind and ready to graduate already, I know someday I will miss it. 

 I know that someday I might be a mom with little children and I will long to be back in a classroom full of adults having educated conversations about literature. I might have a boring job where I won't use my brain and I will miss thinking and writing papers. 

 I just didn't know how soon I would miss that class and that life of college and studying.

  Now, six months later, I have a job where I don't use my brain. Well, at least not in the way I want to use it. I wrap chocolate all day. It's not a bad job. I love almost all of my co-workers and unlike my last job it does not give me mild panic attacks. But I am not writing. I am certainly not using my college degree. And I get bored and miss that "boring" class where I tuned out the professor and doodled on my paper as I brainstormed ideas for my novel.

 But as I'm wrapping chocolate one day, I realize that someday I may want to be back here sitting for eight hours a day wrapping chocolate. I may have kids and I may want to simply sit down in a quiet room and get paid to hear myself think. I may be writing a paper in grad school and tired of the mental stimulation and the deadlines, just like I was six months ago. I may have a writing job and be stuck writing a blog post I could care less about and remember that wrapping room where my hands would fly but my mind was free and I sang along to the radio all day. 

 I am not good at being present. I am always looking backward at what I miss and looking forward to what I hope will be. Right now I don't want to be still dependent on my parents, wrapping chocolate for forty hours a week and far away from my friend. But I need to present. It may not be what I envisioned for my post-college life, but it is what God has given me for right now. And if I am consistent, as soon as I start a new job or leave home, I will miss it. So I am trying to enjoy what God has put before me.

 I am still mourning a pie not baked with one of my dearest friends and the thousand miles that separate us. But I have few good friends here, too. So I ask one of them if she wants to come over this Saturday. She responds with a text that reads, "I would love too! What time, and do you want to bake apple pie?"

 I laugh, then find myself praising the only one who could arrange all this. God has provided another dear friend to bake a pie with. 
And I think for the first time in a while, when my friend and I make apple pies, that I enjoyed being in the present- not looking backward, not looking forward- just rejoicing in what God has before me.

 Though I am not where I want to be, I am where God wants me. It is good because He is good and His plan for me is good. I am thankful this week for his blessing in apple pie and that He never gives up on me. 

  What are you thankful for this week of Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Letter to My College Self

Dear College Student Me,

    I am writing to you from the other side of college- the graduation, full time job, real life now begins side. And here is what I wish you had known:

 1. College isn't easy, but neither is anything after college.

   We tend to think that whatever hard thing we are currently going through is the hardest thing we will ever face in my life. That is not true. College is hard. It is a hard transition, has unique problems, and awkward times, but so is every stage of life. There will always be another hard thing. 

 2. Do not be afraid to make friends. 

   I know because it is still true of me. You don't want to make too many friends because you partly fear and know that some will leave you and some you will leave at graduation. This is hard. This is still hard. You don't want to get too attached to your campus, new state, and new friends because you know you may be spread out after graduation. But you can't live like that. 

 3. School really matters and really doesn't matter at the same time.

     Those classes you are literally writing stories the whole class period because they are stupid- yeah they are stupid, but maybe you should be paying attention. You can never go back to those classes. You may never get to be a student again, there each day to learn and absorb new information and ideas.   And those classes you are obsessing over, that you have to get an A in, that are either classes in your major where you have to be perfect or those classes where someone said you couldn't do it and now you have to prove them wrong- it's probably not worth it, at least to the point you are stressing over them. 

 4. You will not get what you want. 

    You will not meet a wonderful guy who you will fall in love with and who will later ask you to marry him. So instead of obsessing over wanting and wishing for that guy you will not have, just enjoy the life God has given you. 

 5.  Your education is worth it, but the loans you will have in the future are no laughing matter. 

   I don't regret my college education, but I do have a substantial amount of loans I am just now starting to pay off- more than I ever imagined possible. This isn't to scare you, but more to help you see how important those four years are. (Side note for readers: If you are also currently trying to pay off student loans, Earnest can help by giving you options for refinancing. I have not personally used them, but they look like a good company and I did enjoy reading some blog posts on their website.)* 

 6. Trust in the God who has never left you.

     No year of college will be easy for you. When you remember your junior year you will just see a cloud of darkness. Each other year will have its unique trials, but you will get through them. And it won't be because you are strong or brave or resilient. It will be because God stayed with you and did not leave you. 

 *Earnest did approach me about writing this blog post and promoting their services, however everything I have written is my honest, un-altered personal beliefs and opinions. I have not used their company, but they seem like a good one to check out if you are struggling with loan payments.