To The Doubting College Student

doubting

Dear Doubting College Student,

I cannot speak for you. Only you know where you are right now. Maybe the things you want to go well in your life just aren’t. Maybe the things you don’t want in your life keep coming. Maybe you feel so completely and utterly confused, lost, alone.

I’ve been where you are.

There are good days. There are great days. And there are days where absolutely everything feels out of place. My freshman year was full of those out-of-place days.

I questioned my decision to go to college. I questioned the school I chose. I questioned my major. I questioned my roommate. I questioned my classes, my ability, my promises, my role in it all. There wasn’t an aspect of the college journey that I didn’t question.

I cried. A lot. I got angry. I ran, ran from everything I knew. But worst of all, deepest of all, I ran from God. Hadn’t He told me to go to this school? Hadn’t He given me these talents? Hadn’t He sent me this roommate? Where was the blessing of obedience? Where was the peace, the success, the grades? I did all the right things and I didn’t feel successful. I didn’t see it. I was frustrated. So I ran.

I can’t tell you exactly when it was that I started to see God working. But I can tell you that it happened in baby steps. I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be emotionally, spiritually, mentally. I talked to close friends, ranted to my parents, went to counseling. I sought out mentors, advisers. I asked questions. I questioned everything. Again and again, I was faced with one word: SURRENDER.

I was searching for success in myself. I tried to create stability in myself. I wanted to go to college, to do well in my classes, to prove myself worthy–worthy of admiration, worthy of praise. I told myself it was for Him and yet I worked for myself. Once I realized that, I had a decision to make: was I going to continue to do my own thing or was I going to start to let go?

Letting go is scary. Trusting is scary. Giving up yourself is scary. And it’s hard. Am I willing to trust that God is truly in control, that He is perfect, that His plans for me are higher, better? Will I allow Him to fulfill my dreams, the dreams He placed in my heart?

It was a long, grinding process. But slowly and surely, I learned to let go. Little by little I opened my hands and my heart and gave my dreams to God. In return, He gave me peace. Peace and hope.

That’s how it can be for you.

Deep down you know what you need to do. You are standing in your story. You know the dreams that God has given you. You know the costs of surrendering. But only you can make the decision to do that.

The change won’t happen overnight. Be patient with yourself. Give yourself the room to struggle with questions. Allow yourself to think and wonder. But ultimately, allow yourself to come to Him. Give Him a fighting chance to prove Himself. Because He will.

signi

Dear Sixteen-Year-Old Me

Dear little sixteen-year-old me,

You’re so full of dreams, so full of hope.

Take a deep breath. Slow down. Find your favorite spot in your room, light that candle you’ve been saving for special occasions, and put on your comfort socks.

You’re sixteen! I know that seems so old right now, but you really do have your whole life in front of you. Sure, you’ve had ups and downs, heartbreaks and celebrations. Sure, you’ve got plans for the world and hidden ambition to match. But there is so much still to learn. There is so much time.

I know you’re impatient to chase your dreams, to finally make a difference and have a purpose in the world. But here’s something you need to know: you’re still young, your dreams will change, there will be more ups and downs, more heartbreaks, more celebrations. More than that, you have a purpose right now. If you continue to trust God in everything, He will show you new dreams, better dreams, and such beautiful blessings. And even then, He has you right where you need to be.

You are now in a transitional period, trying to decide where you want to go to school and who you want to be. If you let Him guide you, you’ll find some amazing adventures with some pretty amazing people. But you’ve got to trust Him, let go, and take that first step and then another, and another until you find yourself walking in His footsteps. Don’t be in such a hurry to rush past all of the brokenness of the world. You can never outrun pain. Give it to God. Trade it for joy.

When you find yourself becoming impatient, ask God to help you BE.
When you find yourself disappointed in yourself, ask God to help you LEARN.
When you find yourself becoming confused or lost, ask God to help you SEE.
And when you find yourself losing hope, ask God to help you HOPE.

Everything will be made perfect in His timing. You are still learning. It will be okay.
Keep that hope. Keep those dreams. Keep following Him.

signi