…during my first semester of college.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time reflecting on this past semester and all the change that happened - so here’s a breif summary of the things I learned.
1. It’s okay to be alone.
This may sound really depressing, but honestly my first semester of college was rather lonely. My community and best friends were either still in Orlando or at other colleges, so I felt like my deepest friendships were very far away. I met some wonderful people during the past few months. So many people reached out to me, wanted to get lunch with me, and pursued my friendship. I definitely enjoyed making new friends but I was reminded that you don’t build deep lasting friendships over night. I was craving community and community doesn’t always just pop up - it takes a while to be firmly established.
About 6 weeks into the semester, I was feeling particuarly lonely and cried out to God, wondering if he would ever provide me with real friendships. God showed me that I don’t need friends to make me happy, secure, or worthy. Yes, God has designed us to live in community and I know that will happen in his time. But as I learned to trust his timing, I realized that HE is enough. As a result of this loneliness, I experienced Christ in a whole new way - as a friend. And so learning that it’s okay to be alone as caused me to find a sweet new friendship with Jesus in ways i’ve never experienced before.
2. Church is my sanity - and the best part of the week.
Gainesville is a college town and since I live on campus, I am constantly surrounded by college students. Honestly, getting plugged in at a church has (among other things) kept me sane. I seriously missed by home church at during the first few months, but towards the end of christmas break I was genuinely sad to know I wouldn’t be back for a month. Being surrounded by older and younger believers has been such a blessing, and i’m really looking forward to getting to know the church better next semester.
3. My parents were right.
About a lot of things. At some point during my first few weeks I felt like God was very distant, that I wasn’t “growing” and that God wasn’t hearing my prayers. During this time, my mind went back to one day when I was about 12 or 13.
I was upset one night as I went to bed, and my mom came back to my room to talk to me. I told her that I felt like God was really far away and that He wasn’t working in my life. She said something along the lines of; “Sarah, there are always going to be times when you feel like that. You relationship with God is a cycle and isn’t always perfect. I remember many seasons of my life where I felt like God had abandoned me, but He always brought me through. You have to trust that He is good, and remember that His people - the Israelites, went through over 400 years of complete silence while they waited for Jesus. Their waiting was worth it because God did everything in his perfect timing. So you just have to trust Him.” I remembered this conversation this past semester, and it gave me hope and reminded me to trust Jesus more. Thanks, Mamma!
4. Learning is more important than grades.
My entire life I have gotten good grades, so I held myself to high standards of how I should perform in college. This past semester, I performed lower than my self-made standards and learned alot in the process.
My history class was what killed me. As the semester ended, I calculated my grade and knew there was no way I would get an A in the class. The thought deveatated me at first, until I began to study for the final. As I studied for that exam, everything clicked in my brain. When I walked home after the test, I came to the realization that I really learned everything I could’ve about American History this past semester. Literally, I can tell you about people, dates, wars, events, anything and everything - I know it now. So although my grade at the end of the course didn’t honestly reflect what I knew, it was an important lesson to learn. As I continue with college I’m going to try to focus more on learning and less on performing.
5. College is a selfish time.
College is all about me. Me, me, me, me, me. Seriously. I realized very quickly how easy it is to simply focus on myself and what I want and need. I no longer had parents who need me to be home at a certain time, run errands for them, or respect their wishes. Basically, when you are in college, you can do what you want when you want to do it (even if it’s not something necessarily bad). I honestly had to remind myself very often that this wasn’t (isn’t) about me.
My college experience isn’t about me. It’s not about how comfortable I am, how much work I get done, how many friends I have. It’s about Christ and His mission and how He chooses to use me. I failed miserably at remembering this. But I’m thankful that the gospel has freed me of my selfishness and enables me to focus on Christ, even if I don’t always live like I believe it.
I know I learned a billion things this past semester, but this is all I can think of at the moment. Ultimately, it was a time of growth, new experiences, dealing with change, learning about communication, and mostly experiencing Christ’s love in ways I never thought I would.