3 Pieces of Advice For The Scared To Death College Senior

Honestly, sometimes I still have a hard time realizing that I have been out of college for a whole year. Then I’m grocery shopping, getting up much too early, unsuccessfully making jello( real story), and going to work every day, and I remember.  Oh, do I remember.

College is such an amazing time in every young person’s life. It is where you discover who you are, meet friends that last a lifetime, and nap as much as you want.

However, like all good things, college also has to come to an end. Soon enough everyone will walk across the stage and hold a diploma in their hand that signifies everything they have worked and cried for these past four years. And, then, just like that, it’s all over. You pack up the dorm room full of memories, hug your friends tightly goodbye as you scatter across the country, and move back home to wait. Wait for your life to begin or at least get a job.

As much as you may say you are ready and that you loathe college, no one is really ready for the transition that comes after college. One day you’re walking around safe in your college bubble, and then pop! Suddenly you have to cook for yourself, and pay for everything, and get up early.

I hope that in this article I can help to give encouragement and strength to those of you who are about to embark on the messy, hilarious, and incredibly new journey to adulthood. Though the college years are amazing for most, society lies to us when they say that college is the best four years of our lives. They are not the best; they are the start of a much more fulfilling and joyful life. So, if I could go back to this time last year when I was studying hard for my finals and trying to squeeze in every possible second with my best friends, what would I say?

Laugh At Yourself

Adulthood is going to kick you around that first couple of months. You may be starting a job you thought college prepared you for, only to realize that you have retained nothing and have no idea what you are doing. You may move into an apartment for the first time and have to cook for yourself, only to realize that you can only make cereal. You may be moving to a city far from your family and friends, and have to find your own church and a new community.

Times will be tough, confusing, and hilarious. I can’t tell you the number of times that I screwed up cooking, I mean terribly,  and still am, my first year out of college. So learn the difference between the things that should upset you and the things you just need to laugh off.

Be open and willing to learn new things. I have learned more this past year than I did all four years of college combined. Most of that comes from the real experience I am getting at my job, but a lot of it is personal. I have learned how to be a friend outside of college, how to order deli meat at the grocery store, how to go to church by myself, how to be on my own, what I like to do in my spare time, and how to successfully not nap through the day. You will be learning a lot too. So, don’t go into that job thinking you know everything or act that way to your friends. I guarantee after a week of being a real adult you’ll realize just how little you actually know.

For instance, this time last year I had no idea that in two short weeks, the internship I had secured for the summer would be taken away, and several weeks later I would be starting at a company I had never heard of my four years at Grove City. God definitely has a sense of humor, but He also will lead you. When everything else around you is changing, including the scenery, know that the God that you have worshipped and loved for many years never changes.

Action: Keep a journal of that first year after college. This will be a great place to keep your thoughts safe when you need to whine, and to laugh at the misadventures that you are sure to get into. I promise you after your first year out of college you will be able to find yourself chuckling at the entries of you not knowing how to grocery shop or do things that are second nature to you now at your job.

Let Go Of Crazy Expectations

I think that society puts a ton of pressure on college grads, or maybe we just put that pressure on ourselves, to have it all figured out the minute we walk across that stage. But that is completely insane. If anything, you are even more lost and confused after graduation than you were going in. The world is your oyster, and you enter the workforce fresh and having no idea what you are doing. No one is expecting you to get a raise two months after starting that first job, for that first job to be your forever job, or for you to have it all figured out.

Do yourself a favor during this time and take a break from social media. This is especially true if you aren’t quite sure what God has planned for you after graduation. It can be all too easy when you are stuck at home at your parent’s house desperate for anyone to hire you, to compare yourself to those around you. To the people that have those coveted jobs, are getting engaged, are moving to new cities. Everyone looks so pulled together, much more than you are sitting in your childhood bedroom.

But friends, no one posts their tears on social media. No one posts the number of rejection letters they got before landing that job, no one posts when they are crying of loneliness during those first months in a new city, no one vents their frustrations about having to put their own gym into a GPS because they have no idea how to get anywhere in their new strange town.

As a college graduate, I can guarantee that everyone is struggling in some new way. It might not be the same way that you are, but trust me, your peers are just as lost and clueless as you feel.

Action: Pray. Pray on your knees and be honest. Don’t let social media make you question who you are or how much God loves you. Be honest with your friends and family when you are struggling. Vulnerability leads to more vulnerability. Your friends may just be waiting and wanting you to admit you are so freaking lost.  We are all works in progress; we are not completed until we get to heaven. So take the pressure off and realize it’s totally normal to be so lost and so confused. Isn’t that what your 20s are for?

Lean Into Community

One of the hardest parts of leaving college behind for me was the incredible friends that I made. There is a certain bond that is unlike any other that you have with your college friends. You lived with them, learned with them, and experienced life closely together for the past four years. They shaped you into who you are, and you shaped them. It can be hard to set out to find a new community and to keep the old. But here are some tips I have.

Set a schedule

  • Life gets crazy and so busy, make those friendships that you want to keep in your life a priority. Set aside a time each week or month to talk to certain friends. Trust me; if you don’t plan it, it won’t happen. And don’t be worried to initiate talking with friends first. The last time I checked people don’t get upset when you want to continue to invest in them.

Set up visits

  • Yes, phone calls, social media, and Skype are great, but you also need to make time to see these friends. Plan a girls trip, come together for Homecoming, or drive down to see them some weekend. This is especially vital if you are single because when you get married, it is going to be more challenging to visit those dear friends whenever you feel like it.

Community takes work

  • It doesn’t really take any work to make friends in college. Yes, you do have to talk to people and put yourself out there, but from what I remember from my freshman year, pretty much everyone is thirsty for friends. You are surrounded by people that have similar beliefs and are actually your age. You can walk up to someone, introduce yourself, and they are your new best friend. Unfortunately, the real world isn’t quite so easy. The truth is, if you don’t put yourself out there and seek out finding new friends and community, you won’t find it. If you stay in every Saturday night to watch Netflix, you’ll be watching it alone by yourself six months later just the same.

Yes, continue to invest in your college friends, but as Christians, we were created for community. Phone calls from long distance friends every week are great, but we need face to face interaction too. As a very extroverted person, I thought finding community would be so easy. It is NOT! It takes a lot of effort and time. It takes dealing with rejection and awkwardness and showing up to a young adult group again and again when you know no one.

But, after those months of trying your best to find that community, I promise you it will happen. When you put the effort in, pray for Godly friends, and seek them out, you will find them. But don’t expect people just to befriend you automatically.

So here are some tips if you are moving to a new place:

Join a small group

This is an easy way to get close to people and also have a weekly commitment. These are people just like you who are seeking out a community and are willing to put in the effort to find it. Go a couple of times before you throw in the towel, I know that my first judgments of people are usually very wrong.

Connect with other college people

Try to scope out if anyone from your college is moving to or around the area you will be living. Yes, you may not have been close or even known them well in college, but that doesn’t mean they can’t become some of your closet friends post-college.  These are people who can help to fill the college-shaped hole in your heart that throbs so much that first year away.

Go Out

Go to public places. Join a gym, go to a coffee shop, go to church, but don’t sit on your couch, cry, and call your mom. Get out there and make some friends.

Yes, finding community outside of college is a longer and harder process than it is in college, but it is so worth it. God will bring you the friends you need and friends that also need you, but you have to be willing to put in some work.

Action: Make it a goal and priority to invite someone new or someone you met for the first time to hang out with you this week. When I first moved to Lancaster and started meeting people, I made it my goal to try to hang out with two new people each month. Now, I didn’t always meet that goal, but it definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone to meet up with people and make those close relationships happen.

Life after college is a crazy, unexpected, but beautiful journey. I am so excited for you to begin this journey and hope that my advice can help you along the way. Remember that God directs your steps and He will not lead you somewhere He isn’t. Trust that He knows your plan and enjoy the ride.

3 Things To Do When Your Jeans Stop Fitting: Finding Worth In What Matters

 

To me, and probably every woman on the planet, there isn’t a worse feeling or activity in the world than jean shopping. On Friday I find myself standing under the hot, unflattering yellow lights as I try my best to squeeze my body into a pair of jeans that are supposed to shape me and make me look better, but better I do not look. I step outside my dressing room hoping that the three-way mirror will reveal a different truth.  But instead of satisfaction and happiness,  all I feel is shame and bile slowly rising in my throat.

All I can think at that moment is how much I hate my body. How I hate my thighs, my butt, my calves, my ankles, my kneecaps, pretty much any muscle or bone that goes into making my legs my legs. I don’t think about how my muscular legs can help me to walk and helped me compete in a sport I loved for ten years. I don’t think about how boys like girls with a little meat on their bones or “thicc”- personally a word I would die to be described as. I only think about how further, and further down in the vast heaping pile of jeans my size is starting to become. How at the top where I used to belong with the 0s and 2s, now have given way to much deeper down the pile. And I hate what I see and what I have become.

As I head home that night with a pair of jeans much bigger than I thought I would need tucked in my bag, I am horrified by what I saw in the dressing room. Horrid thoughts race through my head as I make myself dinner. Why am I bigger? Why has my body that used to be so tiny continued to betray me.? Is everyone going to notice that my butt is the size of a small state now?

As I take a deep breath and will myself to eat dinner even though a big part of me wants to skip it all together, I am reminded that the way that I view myself and my lack of thigh gap is not how God sees me. Not even a little bit. And as I start to eat my dinner, I was never one for self-control, I am reminded of the enemy and the lies that he uses to upset us and distance us from God. I just never realized how much my body shame was doing that.

In today’s culture, women really can’t win in how we look. We are expected to have a flat stomach, decent sized boobs, a butt that other women are envious of and men lust over, small stick legs, and a perfect hourglass shape. I have never met such a woman, and if you have, please send me a picture because I would love to see how all of that ends up looking together. Instead, we have so many women that are so unhappy with how they look. Our thighs are too big; our legs are too small, we have too big of boobs, our chests look like 12-year-old boys, our butts are too flat, our butts are too big, I mean when does it ever stop?

And unfortunately, I feel like there are too many beautiful women out there that feel the same way. Women who feel bile rising in their throats as they look in the mirror in the morning and cry when looking at how perfect other girl’s selfies look on Instagram.

Today I want to challenge our way of thinking, and I hope that these tips can help all of us to love ourselves a little better and truly grasp the way that God sees us. My goal today is to show you that:

The number on a scale can seem to define the health of our bodies, but really it defines the health of our hearts.

By this, I mean that the way we react to our fluctuating weight speaks more to the state of our soul and our soul health than our actual physical health. It can be easy to put our identity in how we look, how people expect us to look, what society claims is beautiful, but God luckily has never put that kind of pressure on us. I am ready to have a healthier view of my body, are you?

Put Your Worth In An Identity That Never Fades

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”

If we put our identity in the trends of this world, we are always going to be disappointed. There is always going to be another new celebrity we are supposed to look like, a new lip kit to try, and a new contouring style that is supposed to make our skin look effortless. We are never going to measure up or have it all together. Even those amazing Instagram beauty models have to take their makeup off at the end of the day and stare at their naked faces every evening.

God’s love, unlike makeup, once accepted and truly known, can never be washed, peeled, or rubbed off. It will stick to your soul like glue.

Let’s have this perspective when thinking about creating a worth that will never fade away. In Jesus, who formed our faces in our mother’s womb and thinks we are breathtaking without a stitch of makeup. Let’s put our hope and our emotions in words He has written to us, not in a fad that is sure to fade. Jesus died on the cross for all of us, big and small, contoured, perfectly manicured and uncut toenails. Believe that today and let His words replace the lies and expectations our society puts on us.

Move: Write down five Bible verses that talk about worth, appearance, or what Jesus did for you. Put them on your mirror and around your house to remind you of who you are when you forget.

Hone Gifts That Matter

“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?”- 1 Corinthians 12:17

You have all been given distinct and precious gifts through the Holy Spirit. So, this week, instead of spending hours working yourself to death at the gym, online shopping to numb your soul, or watching unrealistic YouTube makeup tutorials, ask God to reveal your gifts to you. Think about the things that set your soul on fire, that you love to do, that you even feel called to do. Spend time harnessing those gifts. Nothing is going to make you feel more beautiful than doing what you are called and have been appointed to do. And, if you don’t know or have any idea where God is leading you, pray. He will show you and prepare you.

Nothing is more beautiful than a woman who is letting her purpose define her, not her poundage.

Unfortunately, I don’t think they make a Fitbit for that quite yet.

Action: So sign up for that ministry class, sign up to serve at your church, start a blog, learn that instrument, do something that nourishes your soul this week, that makes you feel alive in a way no great workout or slim-fitting pair of jeans can.

Find A Healthy Balance

It can be easy in our exercise-crazed, organic world to take the need to be healthy a little too far. To starve yourself to death to be “healthy,” and punish yourself for not working out every day during the week. Don’t let the joy and goodness of being fit and healthy become an idol. It can be easy to think that an idol has to be something that we construct and physically bow down to like the Israelites did in the Bible, but in reality, we bow down to things every day. We do this by giving up our time, our energy, our thoughts, our desires.

We do this when we push ourselves to exercise for an hour every day but neglect to spend any time with God. We do this when we let our makeup collection take precedence over tithing for the month. We do this when we let our horrible negative self-talk define who we are over the God of the universe.

This week I finally realized that I have not had the healthiest view of exercise. I would get angry at myself for only being able to workout four times a week.  I felt like I needed to start pushing myself to exercise more even though it meant giving up other things.  This especially escalated during my jean shopping venture as you can imagine. Thoughts like, “If I hadn’t gotten that smoothie the other day at the café,” and “ If I had worked out instead of getting coffee with a friend the other day this size would fit.”

Unfortunately, we are never going to get to a point where we are skinny enough, toned enough, and fashionable enough.

Contentment in who we are can’t come from broken people, perfectly packaged products, or calories burned; it can only come from the punctured wounds of the only truly whole human being, Jesus Christ.

That is why we need to strike a balance with the world. Where we can still exercise, eat healthily, and dress well, but we don’t let our desire for these things overtake us.

Process: Take a hard look at your “healthy” habits this week. See what has become an idol and what needs to be cut back on. Be honest and train your mind to start seeing exercise and healthy eating as a way to be healthy, not a way you HAVE to live to be a decent person worth loving. You are worth loving because Jesus died on the cross for you, not because you burned x amount of calories at the gym.

I hope today you can look at yourself in the mirror, warts and all, and realize that you are unequivocally and exquisitely enough just how you are. Your weight, face, and waistline were bought at a high price. So give yourself some slack today, and eat that piece of pizza for me, yourself, and Jesus.

5 Essential Ways To Make The Most Of Your Time With God Every Day

 

I have a confession to make. I have been grocery shopping, for the past nine months that I have lived in Lancaster to be exact, but I still don’t really know how. Everything goes back to the fact that I hate cooking. No, not hate….more like absolutely abhor. I am not one of those girls who has her own apron, or monogrammed kitchen wear, or who saves up for a Kitchenaid mixer. I’m the girl who literally bought Hamburger Helper and was genuinely shocked that the meat didn’t come with it. Personally, I feel victimized by the commercials.

But suffice to say, I hate cooking. I just don’t understand how people enjoy slaving over something for hours, that takes them a few minutes to eat, but a whole night to clean up. Does anyone else think that the science is off on that one? To say that I end up cooking one meal in my crockpot to last me for five days is not an understatement; it’s the life I live.

Let me paint the scene for you when I go into the grocery store. I have a list clutched in my hand, as I try my best to not run into anything or anyone ( a feat that is difficult for someone as accident prone as me), as I zig-zag my way through the aisles desperately trying to find something on my list:

silently praying that I can find the off-brand salad dressing or a package of goldfish crackers, wondering why in the world they keep cool-whip in the freezer section and not in the dairy section, and getting so impatient that I cross off ingredients to my crock-pot meal as I go. I don’t check the prices, when things go bad, or who made them. I grab and push and sweat my way through the grocery store until I collapse in an exhausted heap into my car only to remember I forgot to get the shampoo. Sound familiar?

Now, you might be starting to get embarrassed for me at this point. You may think, Rachel, you can’t talk about how much you hate cooking when you aren’t even married. Or you may be laughing at me because you are Betty Crocker and the fact that I hate cooking is a ridiculous concept to you. But I am hoping there are some of you out there, especially my young adult college grads, that secretly harbor an intense hatred for the grocery store and cooking as much as I do.

I share this with you, not only because I am hoping it will make you chuckle, but because I think we can all relate to going into “grocery-shopping mode” for many things in life. You know the mode, where you don’t really want to do what you’re doing so you just check out for a little bit?

For you, it may be when you go on autopilot talking to your mom. It could be when you are huffing and puffing on the treadmill and are praying to God that it will all be over soon. It could be when you are doing a mundane part of your job, talking to a particularly exhausting friend, or doing something you have done a million times before. You go on autopilot, not always because you know what you are doing, but because you just don’t care enough to pay attention.

And unfortunately, I found a startling resemblance to how I act grocery shopping and my relationship with God.

Because even though I do care about my relationship with God, definitely at church on Sunday morning or talking to my Christian friends, sometimes I go into “grocery shopping mode.” Where I am just trying to check it off my list like items at the grocery store, but I don’t really bother to pay attention to the sell by date or the price. I just go through the motions, sometimes huffing and puffing and wanting to watch Hulu instead, until I’m finished with my devotions for the day and can feel like the good Christian I am.

To explain it better; I want to go through the two parts that I believe encompass going into “grocery shopping mode,” or putting your brain on autopilot. Those are being purposely half-hearted and hoping to get lucky.

Half-Hearted

For being half-hearted, I am talking about all those times we care, but just not enough.  So, for you, that might mean that you do pray every day, but you only pray for as long as it takes your eyes to close each night. You could read the Bible every day, but you just rummage and jump and open to random parts of the Bible each day hoping to be fed. It may be going to a young adult’s group or church every Sunday only to totally tune out while thinking about your mile-long to-do list or secretly beating your Candy Crush score on your phone. We all have certain tasks that we just go into airplane mood for, and unfortunately, when our faith gets stagnant or boring, it can be one of the first things to go.

Hoping To Get Lucky

The other element to “grocery shopping mode” is that I expect to be the rewarded for the shabby amount of effort I have put into it. Because every time I grocery shop, I expect to get the freshest ingredients, great deals, and not spend a lot of time or money. Unfortunately, what I think is victory normally turns into my salad rotting or my milk spoiling two days after I purchased it.

And we can be the same way with God. We can not want to give Him our full attention and our entire life, but we still expect Him to show up. To give us some truth nuggets when we are just rummaging through our Bibles aimlessly. To get a word or feeling from the Holy Spirit when we only pray right before our head hits the pillow. To provide for us, and protect us, and never cause us any harm, even when we don’t love Him as much as our cell phones.

And yes, we are fallen creatures living in a fallen world, but that doesn’t give us an excuse to put God on autopilot. To shrug him off like a cute, but itchy sweater, that we convinced ourselves we will wear one of these days. No, He deserves our full attention, so that He can give us the goodness, grace, and wisdom we need to get through the day. Because if we stop to take stock of our spiritual life when we are in “grocery shopping mode” we can find out that we hearts are rotting like a salad whose sell-by date is expired. And  I don’t want that to be me anymore.

We need to be careful to not turn our precious time with the Lord into something we resent or feel like we have to cross off our Christian checklists. So, how do we do that? And, how can we take our minds off autopilot?

Stick to a Schedule

Guys, I am still figuring this one out. As a full-time worker and just a person who needs an inordinate amount of sleep, who considers herself to be neither a morning or night person, getting in my time with God is a real challenge. But, don’t get stuck believing that you have to do your time with God in the morning, because that is when Jesus did it, or a certain way because that is what your most spiritual friend does.

Take some time this week to think about what you might need to make that happen. Is it a particular time of day, a specific spot, or a particular book or song you need to incorporate into your time? Find what works for you and stick to it.

The Holy Spirit Is a Breeze Not A Tornado

I mean that we have to invite the Holy Spirit to be apart of our lives, or He is not going to come. The Holy Spirit is not like you or  I. He is not going to hunt or chase us down. He is not going to drop a passive-aggressive email or social media post to get our attention.  He is not going to drop hints or leave missed calls on our cell phone. He is just going to leave us alone.

So every day, you need to invite the Holy Spirit into your day. To guide you, and direct you, and to cheer you up when your crock pot dinner burns. We can’t live this life alone, and the only way we can feel God here on earth is through the Holy Spirit. He is a gentle breeze trying to pull us back to God, but if we forget about Him, we are only going to be irritated by the sudden burst of cold, instead of seeing it as an opportunity to draw us towards God.

Love Is 99% Action And The Other .999% Feeling

There are going to be days where you wake up, and the last thing you want to do is read the Bible. There are going to be days you are so angry with God for something happening or not happening in your life. There are going to be days where you feel apathetic and listless, and just bored. But lean in! Those days will not last forever.

Feeling spiritually dry doesn’t make you spiritually inept, it just makes you human. 

So make sure that you realize that God is the God of joy and peace and faithfulness, but He is also the God of pain and sorrow.

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad consider, God has made one as well as the other. ” – Ecclesiastes 7:14

So no matter how you are feeling about God at this moment or tomorrow when you wake up, make time with Him a priority. I hope that the quote below can give you encouragement when you don’t want to crack open your Bible.

The more that you refrain from God, the more mundane time with Him will become. 

Journal

When you are reading God’s word or praying, try writing down your takeaways. Instead of just skimming that chapter again in Matthew or a well known Psalm, really see if there is something there that you haven’t discovered before. Think of the Bible as the ultimate treasure chest, except that you will never stop finding buried treasure. No one has ever read the Bible enough to truly get everything out of it.

And, since we all have such unique gifts, personalities, and circumstances, you never know what verse might stick out to you that wouldn’t happen to someone else. Keep a journal or notebook by your side for those times so that you can remember the unique way that God spoke to you. You never know how many friends and loved ones could benefit from your insight as well.

Pray Anywhere and Everywhere

Especially if you have grown up in the church, it can be easy to think that we can only pray at certain times. Like in the morning or over dinner or on Sunday. That we have to be in our prayer chair with our Bible splayed out in front of us drinking coffee as the sun comes up like the perfect Instagram story.  But friends, that is not true.

We don’t have to be in a special mood, special place, or a special person to pray. 

We can talk to God whenever we want, wherever we want. You can talk to God driving, when you are cooking when you are answering emails at work, and when your stomach is crying out in pain as you do abs at the gym. Now, I am not saying that you shouldn’t set aside a particular time of the day where you really focus in on talking to God. Because if you don’t plan for it, it will never happen.

But, we also need to realize that we can talk to God beyond our perfectly crammed in and timed devotional times.

That He wants to hear from us every second of the day, even when are sick of ourselves. So, here are some of my favorite ways to talk to God during the day.

  • When you shower
  • Brushing your teeth/getting ready in the Am
  • Driving
  • On the elliptical or stair stepper at the gym
  • Running errands
  • Getting your hair done
  • Shopping
  • Doing something mundane at work
  • Cooking
  • Grocery shopping- haha
  • Walking outside

I could go on and on. But the point is, that we don’t have to come to God with our squeaky clean selves dressed in our Sunday bests and at 5 in the morning. We can whisper our need to God as we take in our disheveled appearance in the morning, when the guy in front of us is moving slower than molasses, when we are checking out the other women around us at the gym, or just when we are exhausted and overwhelmed after a long day at the office.

Unlike how we are to God, God never expects us to bring our best, to always be faithful to Him, to give Him our freshest ingredients. He just wants us to come. And when we do come, He will bless us with far more than we deserve.

To wrap up, I hope you learned today two things. 1. That Hamburger Helper does not, in fact, come with hamburger. And more importantly 2. That the God of the universe is just waiting to connect with you on a deeper level today, so are you ready to take your mind off autopilot?

5 Ways To Grow In Christian Community

community

I have personally never moved before. I’ve lived at the same quaint house my whole life, across the road from a cornfield, and looking out the same windows covered by green shutters. I’ve memorized every nook and cranny on my country road, and could probably drive to my hometown blind-folded. Even when I went to college, I simply moved 15 minutes away into a dorm room on a campus where I have grown up my whole life. And even as  I looked towards graduation, I never really thought I would be moving. I thought I would be getting an apartment in Pittsburgh, preferably with one of my college friends, and be able to see my mom pretty often. Actually, until I was contacted mid-spring by a company in Lancaster, PA, I was solely looking for job opportunities in Pittsburgh. Though my uncle lived in Lancaster,  I definitely thought a four and half hour drive from home wasn’t for me. Oh, how God has a great sense of humor.

As I am writing this post today, I have currently been living in Lancaster for about a month working at my new job. I am four and a half hours from home and living in a place where I have to MapQuest how to get to a gas station. And though I love this new city and this new season of life, there are definitely hardships that go along with moving somewhere new. So, I am hoping that if you are someone who has just relocated after college, moving or starting a new college or high school this September, or someone who has just moved back home for the first time in years, you can relate to this post. Because no matter where we are, we all crave community. And, if you are reading this blog, there is a good chance you are craving Christian community.

The definition of community is a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. It’s easy to find community when you are in college or high school. Frankly, you walk into college and everyone is just as thirsty for friendship as you are. You can virtually make friends over night. When I was in college, I literally had to decide who I could properly invest in, because there were so many great people around me and on my freshman hall. What a contrast I have now, where I moved to a big city and can attend a young adult group and no one so much as looks at me.

Maybe you, like me, are wondering why the heck it’s so hard to just make some decent friends in a new area? I’m sure you’re likable, attractive, and have plenty of offer; so why don’t you have any fish biting? Or maybe you’re so introverted that the thought of going out to meet new random people makes you want to throw up? Either way, whether you are still in college, not in college, or just graduating high school, we can all agree that we need a community to properly function as Christians.

I know that I am not alone in the way I am feeling, actually, all my college friends are currently struggling with finding new friends and trying to find a new group in the new cities or old cities they find themselves in. I guess we’ve all just watched Friends too many times and are wondering where we can find a great co-ed group of people to just go to a new movie with on the weekends. Fear not, God wants us to live in a community.

“Live in harmony with one another.”- Romans 12:6

“A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.”- Proverbs 27:9

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.”- Hebrews 10:24

He wants us to live in a community so that we can bear each other’s burdens, encourage one another, and build each other up in the Spirit of Christ. We need people to speak God’s truth to us when we are broken, are alone, or are lost. So how do we get this community? How can we as a church be better at showing community to our new young and single members?

Put Yourself Out There

I am a person who is 98% extroverted. I’m not kidding, every time I take my personality test it just keeps climbing up. I love to be around people, get energy from being around people, and hate to be alone. But even I get anxiety from facing the dreaded Christian young adults group. I hate walking into a social setting with hundreds of people and not even knowing a soul. Now, I am the first person to complain about having to run into people from high school, but by moving somewhere completely new, I sometimes wish I could see a familiar face. But I know what you’re going through. You bring your Bible and a notebook because you want to seem extra “Christan.” You try to go up to a group of girls because you don’t want to look like you’re thirsting for a “spiritual leader” to be your husband, And you might try not to sound too fake in your conversations and only use the words: “faithful” and “blessed” every couple of sentences.  But you need to keep this up.

I love the quote by CS Lewis, ““In friendship…we think, we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of an another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”

God brought you the people you were supposed to meet in college, in high school, through clubs and church camps. He will bring you a community where you are now too. But, you have to do your part. You can’t just pray for God to give you your dream job, but never apply to any. Likewise, you can’t cry about not having a community, but not actively seek it out. If you don’t live in a big area, travel to a bigger church that has a young adult group. Sign up for Bible studies, volunteer somewhere, try a new hobby, sign up for a gym, go to places that will force you to interact with other people. And when you go to those places, actually go out of your way to talk to people. Join in on others people’s conversations. Make the effort to people and I promise they will reciprocate.

Don’t Forget About Past Community 

Luckily, we all have friends. Whether you’re the person who has a booming social community, or the person who has a small circle of friends, no one is alone. Don’t forget about reaching out to those people even if you live in different places. Keep up with those college friends and high school friends who helped shaped you to be the person you are today. Set up a time to talk to groups of friends or one friend, once a week or month. Do a Bible study with your friends over Skype. Share prayer requests, concerns, dreams, and desires with these solid relationships you already have. Let these sweet friendships you already have refresh your soul while you’re looking for a community in a new area.

Reach Out To Others 

If you are someone reading this who already has a solid group of friends or feel like you have a grip on your community, look out for those people who don’t. It’s so easy in Christian circles especially, to get cliquey. To be on fire for God and want to help other people, but not realize how easy it is to reach out to those around you. You don’t have to serve at a youth group, on a mission trip, or at a nonprofit to reach out to the broken. All you have to do is look at your church service on a Sunday morning or the person sitting by themselves at your young adult group. Reach out to those people, and include them in your group. You can never have too many Godly and intentional relationships. We have all been in a position where we have prayed to God to bring us, friends. We have all felt awkward in Christian circles like we probably aren’t cool enough, probably can’t do calligraphy with Bible verses, and might not lift our hands enough in worship. We have all felt like a fish out of water. So don’t ignore those people, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you right to them.

 Be Real

Don’t put on the “Christian” act. I mean obviously, don’t self-disclose your whole life story and struggles to people you’ve just met, but don’t feel like you have to be someone you’re not to get authentic Christian relationships. When I have shared with friends about my personal struggles with Christ or the times I have felt spiritually dry, I have never felt judged.  I normally am met with “me too.” This is a great way to open up some real Christian dialogue. So, if you are someone who is more reserved, don’t worry that you won’t be enough. As a wildly outgoing person, I adore quiet and wise people. Most of my best friends are talkative introverts who listen to me blather on. And if you are worried you are too much, don’t be. God will bring you the friends who can handle all your crazy. And at the end of the day, it’s exhausting to be someone you’re not. So be yourself, and let God bring you the people He wants.

Be Intentional

Hopefully, with the tips above you’ll start making some friends, so be intentional with these new friendships. Once you have the foundation, you have to constantly be watering it so that it can grow. Especially new friendships. Out of sight can really be out of mind…forever. So don’t be afraid to initiate hanging out with someone you like and have recently met. To ask them to get coffee, or go out to lunch, or even to just sit with them at church. Have you ever been annoyed when someone has reached out to you in this way? Then don’t assume that other people will be annoyed when you ask. If you ask someone about themselves, take an interest in their lives, and intentionally try to see them, your friendship is going to flourish.

I hope that today you aren’t too discouraged about not having that perfect group of friends. I hope that you aren’t feeling all alone in a big city with almost too much to do but no one to do it with. I hope that you realize that God will bring you a new community of Christian friends and that He wants to grow you through this time of being alone. To refine you by growing your patience. He loves you so much, even when you go to a young adult group and no one talks to you. He loves you even when you spend that Saturday with Netflix again. He loves you even when your best friend from college is thousands of miles away. He loves you, He has plans for you, and He has friends for you. So put yourself out there, put on some makeup, and go out in public today. Take the plunge and I guarantee it will be worth it.

 

How To Recover When God’s Will Breaks Your Heart

God's will quote

Thy will be done.

It is well with my soul.

These sayings and more are written to give us comfort when life seems to utterly break us. It must be God’s will. Something better is just around the corner. Consistently the top worship songs on any countdown are songs about struggles, overcoming our trials, and trusting God when we have absolutely nothing else to trust.

But what about when God’s will hurts us? What about when we are left with nothing but our faith to lean on? How can it be God’s will if it breaks our hearts?

As a recent college graduate, I know a thing or two about the devastating power of God’s will, and also of His unwavering faithfulness in the midst of my doubts. About two months ago, when I was knee deep in applications, Indeed.com messages, and updating my Linkedin profile, I was offered an internship out of the blue. A company reached out to me and offered me a full-time internship for the summer at a digital marketing firm.  The chance of it becoming a full-time position was so high that they didn’t even want to give me an end date on my internship. It seemed like an absolute dream come true to someone who was beginning to believe that God had forgotten about her in His quest to give everyone around me their dream jobs. But here was my chance. God had finally answered my prayers. Honestly, it was too good to be true.

Then, at 10 pm five nights before I was supposed to move to my uncle’s house to start my internship and what I thought was the rest of my future, I received a startling email. I thought it would be to elaborate on the email they had sent me the morning before about securing my state date for Monday, instead, I received an email that told  me that they actually didn’t have enough work for me to do this coming summer. So, ultimately, they needed to rescind their offer because they couldn’t afford me. To say that I was crushed was an absolute understatement. This was my future, my happily ever after, and now they were just going to take it back?

I turned off my computer and glanced around my crowded room that was filled with unpacked boxes and papers with to-do lists on them. I had just rerouted my mail this morning, permanently I might add.

But I hadn’t even sought out this company. I had gotten an email with their offer as suddenly as they had rescinded it. And I was left with no summer job, no job prospects, and no idea what my future was going to hold. At the moment, all I had was tears, disappointments, and outrage at God.

How could He allow this to happen to me? Why was it always me that was going through something?

It doesn’t help that as young adults who have just graduated from college, we have this innate desire to try to one-up each other on social media. That even though none of us have any clue what we are doing, we still feel the need to pretend that we do. It’s so easy to look at someone’s perfectly Instagrammed picture of their new apartment and not see the loneliness and fear that they are feeling. It’s easy to look at people’s excited Snapchat stories about them starting their first day of work, and not see the exhaustion they have every day from their long hours. It’s easy to put on a façade online, when we’re all facing the trial of trying to put what we’ve learned in classrooms into real jobs. It’s easy to see people vacationing to exotic places or maybe getting engaged, and thinking that they have it all together. To think that God must love them more than you. It is easy to feel like you are the only jobless loser on the face of this earth and that you are going to die alone in your parent’s house. Trust me, I’ve thought that for the past month practically. And I wish I could tell you that I turned to God right away when I heard the news. That I rushed into the word and didn’t let the devil instill fear into my heart. I wish I could tell you that. But I would be lying.

I didn’t do any of those things. I cried myself to sleep, woke up the next morning and wallowed around in my pjs all day, and definitely made sad bitter remarks of my outcome to my friends and family whenever I could squeak it in. I was a girl who felt utterly abandoned by God. Luckily, I am not someone who wallows long. I dived back into the word, back into my applications, and reached out to my professors for help with connections. I prayed on my knees every single day that God would provide me with something, anything. So I wouldn’t be stuck in my college hometown working at Tommy Hilfiger when all my underclassmen friends returned to school. I tried my best to have faith, even when I felt like the last two years of my life had been a constant battle with God to get a sliver of happiness for longer than three months. Maybe that’s slightly melodramatic, but still, I was upset.

In my time of desperation there were two things that kept me going. A song by Hillary Scott and a story about an old king named Hezekiah.

Hillary Scott has written a song recently that is climbing up the Christian charts called Thy Will. It is about wanting God’s will to prevail, even if it means we have to be hurting. That God’s will needs to come first, not our happily ever afters. A lyric from the song that resonated with me is,

“ I don’t wanna think, I may never understand. That my broken heart is part of your plan.”

Do you ever think that your trial, brokenness, and hurt could be part of God’s plan? That He has a purpose in our trials that we might never understand or see a purpose for. The most impactful part of that song( which I have attached at the bottom of this post) was that I was someone who regularly prayed for God’s will to be done in my life. I prayed that God would give me the desires He had for me and that His will would be done in my life even if it hurt. But I didn’t really mean it. I don’t think many of us do when we pray that courageous prayer. Of course, we want God’s will to be done, but only when it’s for our ultimate good. Of course, it’s God’s will when we meet our future husbands by chance, when we get our dream jobs, when we get the raise when we get into the sorority, when our families are healthy and striving. But what about when our jobs get cut, when we have no job, when we send out application after application only to hear nothing, when we are lonely in our first apartment, when we can’t find a church body that agrees with us, and when we can only afford cereal for dinner each night. How can that be God’s will?

 

Many people marvel and question what God’s will can truly be for their lives. It can be hard for them to make tough decisions because they are afraid God will punish them if they make the wrong choice. But God is omnipotent and omnipresence, He knows every thought we’ve ever had and the quietest desires of our hearts. He alone will always know what we are going to choose.

“For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.”- Romans 8:28

He isn’t just working for your good when everything is going well, He is working for your good and protecting you even in your toughest trials and moments. He was working for my good even when I didn’t get that internship. He was still working through my hurt and pain.

“When are times are good be happy; but when times are bad consider: God has made one as well as the other.”- Ecclesiastes 7:14

If we didn’t suffer, we would not be refined by God, and thus we would not be able to properly appreciate His blessings. Shockingly, the process for refining gold or minerals is not an easy one. It involves melting the gold, pouring acid over it, burning it, stirring it around, and hardening it. And it isn’t just your “friendly kitchen acid”, it’s nitric acid, hydrochloric acid. The process is so intense that it can only be completed in labs. Essentially you have to break down, destroy, and harden gold to get it to become the beautiful treasure we pay hundreds and thousands of dollars to possess. God is breaking you down to make you beautiful. He is going to use what you are going through right now as a story to encourage others, to strengthen your faith, and to be living proof of His faithfulness.

In 2 Kings 19, we are confronted with a story that takes place during King Hezekiah’s reign. King Hezekiah, unlike the kings before Him, followed the ways of the Lord. In this story, the commander of the Assyrian army is threatening Jerusalem with war. And this was not a threat to be taken lightly. The Assyrians were the ultimate war dogs of the time period. They completely destroyed any army that was placed in their tracks and made slaves of all the nations they defeated. Assyria was trying to turn Judah from King Hezekiah. By telling them that the Lord their God could not defeat their army. That they should surrender now before they were enslaved.

“This is what the king of Assyria says: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you from my hand. He says the Lord will deliver us. Has the lord of any nation ever delivered His land from the king of Assyria?” 2 Kings 18: 31.

But Hezekiah didn’t let His people or His army relent. Instead, the people prayed and fasted before The Lord. They did not forsake Him because the world said they should. In today’s world, people will say that you are crazy to depend on anyone for anything, especially God. How can God save us, they ask.

Hezekiah was in the same position and He never relented, just like we should never relent in our faithfulness to trust God’s provision. So what happened next? God stepped up like He always does. He sent an angel of death to the camp of Assyria and put a hundred and eighty-five thousand people to death. Judah didn’t even need to fight, God destroyed their enemy before they could even touch them.

Now I have no idea what battle you are fighting today and the hopelessness you might be feeling, but take heart! God sees your brokenness and He is longing to bless you. He is preparing well for you right now, even in the midst of your pain. God provided for me, even when I thought He had left me forever.

 

Within four weeks of that company rescinding their offer, I currently have received two job offers from prominent companies in my field. Full-time offers. In the same area as my internship I might add. So even though I was broken-hearted about losing out on my  happily ever after, God was preparing job offers for me that were so much more than I could ever imagine. And I am not sharing this to rub salt in your wounds if God has not provided for you yet. I am sharing this with you to show you that it does happen. It might not happen as quickly as mine did, but it will happen.

And who knows, this job might not be perfect either. This job could bring me trials or blessings. But you know what? I am much more equipped now to truly want God’s will to be done. To trust that He has a plan for me that might include me needing to be refined first. We are not promised goodness always when we become Christians, but we are promised that we will never walk alone. That God will not forsake us even when all seems lost. So is this my happily ever after then? Being able to start a full-time job at great company in a new city? No. Because I don’t have a happily ever after here on earth and neither do you. Our happily ever after is only fulfilled when we join our Savior in Heaven. There we will finally be refined like silver and gold, and completely ready for our forever with Him.

We might never understand the hurt and pain we must endure in this life, but we can understand that our God is for us, not against us. That He is good, even when our circumstances are not.

 

Link to Thy Will by Hillary Scott and Family! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dp4WC_YZAuw

Final Remarks From A Graduating College Senior

graduation

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”- 2 Timothy 4:7

I remember the first day of freshman year like it was yesterday. And frankly, most of the time it feels like it was. I was a totally out of my element 18 year old who had short hair, a Tommy Hilfiger striped shirt, and baggy shorts from the recent weight I had just lost from a mission trip to Haiti. I had no friends, no idea what the heck I was doing, and was terrified I was going to completely fail out and have to transfer. And yet, I remember being so utterly excited as I walked into the cramped triple that was going to be my future home for the next 9 months. Even though I had no idea what I was doing, I was very excited to start.

Now as I prepare to spend my last day on the Grove City College Campus, I am left with very similar feelings. Being excited, yet terrified, as I look to begin a new chapter in my life. For many of us( myself included), that means moving away from our homes, it might mean going home in the hopes of finding a future, it might mean starting a graduate school.  Either way, we all have one thing in common. We all have to pick up our feet and begin a new journey.

Without getting too sentimental, I can easily say that Grove City College has been the best four years of my life so far. I am not saying (hoping) they will be the best four years I have ever had, but for a girl who went to a pretty red neck high school it was practically paradise. It was a dream come true to walk onto a college campus where people also dressed preppy, loved the Lord with all their hearts, and would actually compliment me. Looking back, it makes me so sad to realize I went so long without the amazing friends I have discovered in college. I have met friends who have been with me through some of the toughest times of my life and helped me to weather the storm. Friends who one second are making an inappropriate joke, but then teaching me and encouraging me in Christ the next.

And I know that right now can seem like only an ending and not a beginning. Because if you don’t have a job or a plan for after graduation, it can be really intimidating to move back in with mom and dad and seemingly lose your freedom overnight. But I know from experience that we all have to start somewhere. In the very famous verse from Ecclesiastes, one of the times God describes is a

“A time to build and a time to uproot. A time to scatter stones and time to gather them.”

Currently, we are all in the “being uprooted and yet to be planted” stage. And it can be terrifying to be uprooted. To leave the nice cozy dirt of college and classes and homework and friendships. To leave napping, and late night Sheetz runs, and comfortable surroundings. To be yanked out without wanting to be planted somewhere else. But fortunately, we’ve done it before. Obviously moving from high school to college is not as big a transition as blazing our way to the real world, but it is a similar time of transition. Remember how scared you were to not make any friends, or what if you couldn’t handle the class load, or the food made you sick? You wondered what if you didn’t make the cut and high school was your peak time? Fortunately, it only took a little bit of time for us at college to get adjusted to the class loads and to make new amazing friends. We were uprooted, but we were planted and able to flourish.

So what advice would I give to myself and other graduating seniors? Of course, I don’t come close to having any answers, but I hope that some of these tips can help both of us.

Never Forget

“ You who are young be happy while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.” – Ecclesiastes 11:9

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”- 1 Timothy 4:12

To not forget the people and places that have shaped you for the last four years. Now I am not advising you carry around a tub of ice cream, only wear your Greek shirts out in public, or to constantly be reminiscing about the “good old days,” but to not forget the lessons you worked so hard to learn in college. To not forget about the friendships you have forged, and realize that any relationship can work if you are willing to put in the effort. Yes, instead of having sleepovers in your dorm rooms you might have to settle for monthly or every couple of month trips, but your foundation is already there.  Don’t allow it to crumble if it’s important to you.

Don’t forget to stop learning. Even if you aren’t in a graduate school, continue to learn from the people, places, and colleagues around you. Everyone has something to teach us if we are willing and able to listen.

Don’t forget to stop dreaming. College isn’t where the road ends. God has big plans for us and how He wants us to impact those around us. Don’t miss out on His quiet whisper for your heart because you are too hung up on the past. Don’t think that just because we are young and inexperienced that we can’t contribute well to society. These years after college is the time to explore new cities, travel, take jobs that we love that don’t pay us super well, get our dream degrees, start our own businesses, and meet anyone and everyone. Now I am not saying to chase a dream that is utterly unrealistic. I don’t want anyone to tell their parents they are going to move to Thailand and pursue their dream of being a surfer just because they read this post. But don’t let satan trick you either. Don’t let him make you think that you aren’t able to accomplish the plans God has placed on your heart and prepared you to do.

Make New Friends

“A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” Proverbs 27:9

I love the saying make new friends but keep the old. Don’t be a hermit in the place you end up after graduation. Do things that will purposely get you to interact with new people. Join a Bible study or young adult group, interact with young people at your workplace, talk to those kids you sit by in your grad classes, enroll in a class at the gym, or even get a cup of coffee at a place inhabited by young people.  There are so many amazing and wonderful friends that we have yet to meet. There are going to be new people we encounter who we are going to question how they haven’t been in our lives longer. So, don’t ditch the college friends who have made you who you are, but don’t confuse fear with loyalty. Get out there and make some friends.

Rely on God and Other People

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”- Romans 8:28

I am blessed to still keep in contact with some of my friends from college who have already graduated. And I know from them that the real world is not very easy. It is a hard transition. Going from an easy final semester of senior year, straight into a 9 to 5 job that requires skills you are still harnessing, is going to be tough. We need to expect it to be tough. But, we know from watching others, that just because it is difficult doesn’t mean it isn’t doable. Listen, if you can make it through Grove City College, you can make it through practically anything. Just remember when you feel out of place that you are equipped for that job, that test, that interview. God is there. God is willing to give us the skills we need to succeed. He is working for the good of us. He will not forsake us or let us down. So we need to rely on Him. He is the only constant that has been with us through all our transitions. He knew the people we needed to meet at college, He knew the professors we needed to learn from, He knew the experiences and lessons we needed to have. So He knows the job we need to take, He knows who our new friends will be, He knows the right church where we can serve and be refreshed. So, instead of throwing ourselves pity parties when things get tough, we need to be striving to ask Him what He wants for us.

And likewise, don’t be afraid to rely on the people you love. To call your mom up when you have no idea how to make her favorite recipe or turn on the stove, to call up your best friend when you just want to hear her voice, to be able to be broken and vulnerable with other college graduates about what you are going through. To know that you are not alone, so you don’t have to act like you have it all together.

Anticipate Failures

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”- Ephesians 2:10

Anticipate the messiness of post-grad life. We are going to fail, because we are imperfect people with imperfect lives. Yes, it’s not going to be as easy as college, also you can’t nap at your job, but there are still many benefits. Like being able to decorate your first apartment, finding your own church, having money to actually go out to eat, not having to study or write papers, finally being able to read again, the peace of not being stressed out, Sabbaths, bars that don’t just serve you in plastic cups, and no more greasy college food.

Yes, college changed you hopefully for the better, but other things and people will change you just as much. We have a new journey to begin and a new path to take. We will not be alone, and luckily our guide knows where all the potholes, ditches, and poison ivy will be. Life will get hard, but when has it been easy? The most important lesson I have for this post is to just trust in God and meditate on His promises. Don’t let not being around a Christian community of encouragers stop you from pursuing Him and witnessing to others out.

Literally, in two short days, I will walk across a stage, hopefully not be sniped, and proudly be able to say I am a graduate of Grove City College. I’m not an English major, but it truly was the best of times and the worst of times. But I am glad for every moment all the same. So take these next couple of days and weeks to mourn your college experience and all the emotions that go with that. But, eventually, we are all going to have to take that tentative step into adulthood. In the fine words of Dr. Seuss,

“ You’re off to great places, today if your day. Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.”

Honest Confessions of a College Senior

When I was a little girl, and let’s face it still to this day, I used to be terrified of the dark. I was afraid that something was sure to grab me, kidnap me, or torture me if I didn’t have at least a little bit of light shining in my room. This, of course, seems ridiculous to someone who is older and wiser now, but I still can’t quite seem to fall asleep in absolute darkness. I like being able to see at least a sliver of the moon.

I wish I could say that the fears that plague me today are as easy to solve and cure as being afraid of the dark. Yet, there is no night light, cracked door, or moonlight sliver that can save me from the fear of the future or maybe just adulthood.  In around 30 days (give or take a few days) I will walk across the stage of my college and receive a piece of paper that represents the last four years of my entire life. It seems terrifying to me that something so easy to spill something on, be torn up, or blow away by the wind could be used to represent the most important four years of my life. That tiny piece of paper can’t begin to hold the countless friendships I have been blessed to find, the lessons I have learned inside and outside the classroom, the activities I’ve been able to lead and participate in, the tears I’ve cried, laughs that hurt my side, and memories that changed me into the woman I am today.

As I spend my last couple of weeks walking around the campus that has been my second home for the last four years I wonder, where has the time all gone?

I hope that you won’t scoff and laugh at my honesty too much in the rest of this post, but I hope that you can look at the words I feel compelled to write and feel a sense of relief that you aren’t alone. So what are my thoughts as I think about my life after college? It’s easily summed up in one word.  Terror.

 

I am terrified of being catapulted into a world where I have nothing to study, no new young people to meet, and have to make my own meals edible. I am terrified of never getting hired, or worse getting hired only to hate the job I have accepted. I am terrified that I will get fired from every job because my college education didn’t prepare me for the real world. I am terrified that my employers will hate me just because they can. I am terrified I will never make enough on a Communications salary to actually be able to live in an apartment, even with a roommate. I am terrified of losing touch with the amazing friends I have made in college. I am terrified of having no community. I am terrified of never getting married because I couldn’t find someone in the biggest pool of Christian boys I have ever known here at my college. I am terrified of getting fat because when will I ever have time to work out when I work a 9 to 5. I am terrified that I peaked in college. I am terrified that God is going to leave me alone to navigate this whole new exciting and terrifying world on my own.

And if you’re honest, I hope that you can admit and agree with some of my fears as well. I am not saying that I want to stay in college for years and years and never leave. I am simply saying that the date of graduation is approaching far quicker than I expected.

If I’m being honest, I would say that truthfully I have been pretty proud of myself for how I’ve handled this whole “college graduation approaching” thing. I have been calm, collected, trusting in God, and prayerful. I have not been intimidated when people asked me about my future because I so ardently believed that God had a great plan for me. One that preferably included me landing a job before graduation and moving into an apartment right after. I thought that my June would be filled with me beginning a new chapter in my life and going to craft stores to decorate my apartment. Even though I love my home and family, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to work at Tommy Hilfiger for the fourth summer in a row. So what happened? What happened to the girl who couldn’t be shaken in God’s plan for her? One word again, rejection.

I’ve had phone interviews, Skype interviews, in-person interviews, second interviews, third interviews, and what do I have to show for all of that?  One word, two letters, NO. Perfectly polite emails telling me, “Thanks, but no thanks,”  “If only you had 2 or 20 years of experience,” “We wish you the best of luck with your future.” And frankly, I just hit my breaking point.

To continue with my bout of honesty, I feel like I did the best I could to set myself up to get a job. I worked so hard on my grades in college, got involved in a wide array of activities that could help boost my resume, but also that I just really enjoyed, I stressed, I persevered, I singlehandedly led group project after group project, and what did I have to show for all that work? Oh right, no husband and no job. It probably wouldn’t seem that bad if the comparison hadn’t set in. It’s hard not to feel like crap when it seems like you are constantly surrounded by an endless wave of people gushing about their futures and exclaiming their great news through creative social media posts.  I am so happy and excited for all my friends that have their futures sealed up neatly with a bow, but it’s hard not to wonder why I can’t be as happy as they are too? Please, God, just this once?  Why does God always have to lead me through the path of mud, steep heels, and tree stumps to get to my destination? Why does God make it look so easy for everyone else?

Maybe you’ve asked yourself that same question. Maybe you’re wondering where the heck God has been when He’s supposed to be planning your happily ever after?

 

But I am here to tell you some honest news that I desperately need to hear as well. God is good. Not sometimes, not when He feels like it, not to just certain people, not depending on the weather, but always. He is always faithful. He is always just. He is always looking out for us. I can tell you the story after story about my life that sound just like this. God leading me through a path that is full of thickets and thorns, brush burns and scraped knees, which ultimately lead to me learning a lesson along with a journey that grew me into a more Christ-centered person. Because every time I have come up against a challenge and a period of waiting, God has revealed Himself as far greater than I could ever imagine.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”- Ephesians 3:20

“ Our soul waits for the Lord: He is our hope and shield.”- Psalm 33:20

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, take heart, and wait for the Lord.” – Psalm 27:14

He was there when I was stressed out and crying because I had bombed my math SAT and thought I would never get into college. He was there when I was terrified of not making any friends in college. He was there when I thought I would never get an internship last summer, and provided me with one when the time was right. He was there when the social activities, papers, and assignments seemed to be all too much for my sophomore heart to handle.

God knows what we need and when we need it. He knows where we are going to be a year from now when we are so grateful for all the “No’s” we have received. He alone can build something good and beautiful out of the wrong turns, mistakes, and sins that our lives are littered with.

So take a look back at your life. Has there ever been a moment where God has not seen you through? Where His way has not ultimately made you the happiest and led to the best results? Where has He not had your best interests at heart?

Being a senior in college is a terrifying time, but instead of wasting our time pouting, crying, and stressing out about what is yet to come, we need to bow our knees before the King and ask Him to show us. Ask Him to strengthen our hearts as we wait. Ask Him to allow peace to invade our anxious and competitive souls. Ask Him to show us the path when we are left out of options and have absolutely nowhere to turn.

So in the honor of continuing in my honesty, there are still some days when I am really frustrated with God. When I see yet another Facebook post of another friend getting that dream job or getting engaged, but that doesn’t take away from the amazing and good plans God has already put into place for you and for me. There are days where I can barely fall asleep because my stomach is sick with the thought of what life after graduation is going to look like. Days where I cry to God because I don’t know why I was rejected from yet another job that seemed so perfect for me. Because we can’t see the big picture that God can. We will never understand why we have to endure struggles, see pain and have these frustrations, but we do know that God is ultimately leading us to Him.

Remember back to the beginning of this article when I was talking about my fear of the dark. Now, it’s the fear of the future. But this time, instead of the night light or sliver of moon to help me feel safe, I have something much better. And He’s just waiting to take my hand and yours and lead us out of the dark and into the light.

The Real Reason You’re Single This Valentine’s Day

Ah, Valentine’s Day.  The birds are singing, the chocolate is selling, and love is in the air..except for you. Once again you’ve received flowers from your family members and heartfelt notes from your girlfriends telling you of your importance, but still nothing from the men you have been pining after or hoping to be noticed by. It can be easy to feel that there has to be something wrong with you or something terrible you’ve done to deserve this fate of singleness. Today, I hope that you realize that you are so loved and cherished by the God of the universe. That you were not created on a whim, on a random thought, or by accident; you were made on purpose for a purpose. No boy, no man, no relationship can possibly satisfy you the way that God alone can. So why are you single this Valentine’s Day? Let’s find out!

It Is Strengthening Your Faith

“ Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from satan to keep me from becoming proud.”- 2 Corinthians 12:7

I don’t understand why you are single, why you feel lonely, or why that man with a heart after God’s own didn’t like you back, but I do know that God is always good. In the midst of painful heartbreaks, loneliness, and dateless Valentine’s Days, He is still good.

Before this year, I failed to realize what a blessing singleness could be; what a gift from God it truly is. I look around at some of my closest friends and see the ways they have been devastated by boys, held them as they cried from their broken hearts, and saw their love cast aside by the men who promised to never let them go. I realize that God protecting my heart from these pains of life should not be seen as anything other than a positive. I have no idea why some girls have to go through more heartbreak than others, but I do know that we face different things in life to learn different lessons. Wherever God has placed you on this day, whether in a relationship, single as a Pringle or getting over a heartbreak, He has a specific lesson He wants you to learn through this trial. He does not want you to become conceited. He wants you to wholly rely on Him.

For many girls, having a boyfriend means having built-in affirmation and confidence. But, when you have never had that boyfriend, you have to look for affirmation in other ways. One of the ways we can become dependent on God is by asking Him to fill our hearts with His affirmation. I have to constantly ask Him to remind me of His promises. To realize that He will never leave me, forsake me, or abandon me. He promises to constantly love me, that I am always His, and that He has great plans for me. He tells me that I am altogether beautiful, that I was lovingly crafted, and promises to wipe the tears of every unrequited love from my eyes.

No man can possibly affirm you with these statements every second of the day. No man can intimately know you and love you the way God perfectly does. No man can guarantee that he will never leave you. But God can promise these things. Men may hurt our hearts, fail us, and leave us broken, but God is the one who stitches us back together. A man may not pursue you, but God is constantly in pursuit of our attention and time. So, yes, you might not have Mr. Darcy strutting across a dewy field to find you in the early morning, but you have an all-encompassing God who is with you every waking and sleeping moment of every day, just anxiously waiting to woo you

Your Standards Are Too High

First, having high standards is an absolutely necessary and healthy part of any relationship. It keeps us from suffering abuse, cruelty, and harmful situations that we shouldn’t be in, in the first place. However, as all girls will confess to, we often have ideas of exactly how we want our future boyfriends and husbands to be that aren’t so healthy.  We make up unrealistic expectations and scorn perfectly lovely men because they are “too hipster” or “not funny.” Is that really what we should be most worried about? What about finding a man who can encourage you to be a better person and most importantly encourage you in your relationship with Christ? What about finding a man who will love God more than He will ever love you? What about finding a man who is hardworking, kind, considerate, and patient? What about these intangible qualities that aren’t as much fun to wish for as athletic, musical, and dresses well?

The only standard that God calls us to look for in our spouses is this:

“ Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. How can the righteous be a partner with wickedness? How can light live in darkness?”- 2 Corinthians 6:14

I am not saying that there aren’t other important qualities to look for in a dating relationship, but this is the most important. Being able to find a man who can lead you in your faith and who can be the spiritual head of your household is the one area where God tells us we can’t settle. Just a side note, it’s important to realize that it is very unlikely to meet a boy in one of your college classes that is ready to be the spiritual head of your household. I must confess that I just learned how to cook grilled cheese over break; I am not ready to be someone’s wife. But part of any good relationship is seeing the potential in the other person and working towards the common goal of marriage together.

It’s great to have deal breakers when looking for future men you can enter into relationship with, but make sure they are in line with God’s word and His promises, not our own human flaws.

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. We use our time to pout and cry and whine about not finding any great Christian men. We can roll our eyes with our friends about how no one has the guts to pursue us, but are we really looking? Or are we caught up in the men who aren’t right for us, the men who have broken our hearts, and the men that God knows would be all wrong for us? Are we really praying for discernment and being open to whoever God might bring along for us, or are we too busy eating out of our ice cream cartons to lift our eyes? Sometimes the men that are exactly right for us are right in front of our faces, we just need to take the time to look.

It’s Not In God’s Timing…Currently

“ Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”- Ephesians 3:20

“ For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”- Ephesians 2:10

 

It can be easy as we look around at a media full of Bridal television shows, Facebook posts filled with unexpected engagements, and even our own groomless wedding boards on Pinterest, and feel like we are the only ones that are alone. But think of some of your best friends and loved ones that are single just like you. What do you think is the matter with them? As a culture and as the religion of Christianity, we need to stop believing that we are somehow less as women, less as people, and less close to God if we don’t experience Godly relationships or marriage. That God is punishing us for the mistakes we have made in the past. That God thinks that we are too dirty, stained, or blemished for some of the men who love Him most of all. That if a man isn’t actively pursuing our hearts that they aren’t worth pursuing.

I don’t know why I am in a season of waiting on a relationship, or why God has called me( not by my own choice), to remain single throughout college and high school, but I do know that He is unfolding a much bigger plan than I can ever comprehend. That someday in the future when I meet my Mr. Right, or if I simply find something bigger I am called to do, that I will see His fingertips at work through the entire process. They were stealthily at work through all the nights I cried myself to sleep, hated who He had created me to be, and felt so discouraged about finding anyone who could love me. That while I felt like absolute garbage because no one asked me to their fraternity formal, that God was right there constantly reminding me of my worth. I urge you to stop wasting your energy on being impatient and instead pray to be the women you need to be when you are called to be a wife and mother.

Pray to love the God of the universe more than the butterflies you get around that special someone. Pray to be able to serve your future spouse in a way that can constantly point them towards Christ. Pray that you aren’t missing God’s bigger purpose for your life by whining about your singleness. Pray that God will reveal to you how utterly and exquisitely enough you are. It is up to us to push onward in a vast sea of happy couples to find the greater plan that God wants to use us for right now.  Embrace this time of singleness as a way to plug into your friend groups, school work, ministry opportunities, and time with God.

I hope this blog post has helped you to realize that there really is no specific or valid reason why you are alone this Valentine’s Day.   Remember that you are a daughter of the one true God. He will never leave you, forget to text you back or insult you. He will never make you feel like you are too much, not enough, or unappreciated. He is ready to satisfy your dry and cracking heart today. Though the chocolate covered strawberries, flattering words of a man and flowers may fade, our God’s love for us will always remain the same. Happy Valentine’s Day!

5 Ways To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

Oftentimes, comparison to others can start off harmlessly enough. Someone that inspires you to be kinder, wiser, or dress better. But the problem with comparison, ultimately, is that it doesn’t just stop there. Soon enough everywhere we turn we find someone who is better at this or that, prettier, or more Godly. Suddenly what started out as a good intention becomes a nasty habit that latches itself on to our deepest insecurities and doubts.

I think as women we can all relate to times that we have become prisoners to comparing ourselves to others. To the times we’ve cried because we wanted to be smarter, prettier, funnier than the girl sitting beside us, one of our best friends, or a girl in our office.

Comparison has always been an area where I have greatly struggled in my faith. From wishing my prayers sounded like another girl’s at youth group, to wondering if I’m not a true woman of God because I’m not taking any Biblical classes, to striving to make my makeup look just as effortless as the girl who sits beside me in class; I constantly wish I was someone else.

At my smaller Christian college ring by spring isn’t exactly a joke. I definitely anticipated meeting the love of my life at this college. I easily pictured getting married the summer after graduation and then living happily ever after as all our children sported “Future Grover” onesies. I wish I could say I was kidding. Yet, here I am the spring of my senior year, just as single, though hopefully wiser, than my naive freshman self who thought all of this would happen. Being single is a great gift, but it can also be a curse. I know that there are hundreds of fabulous single people all around me on my college campus, but I don’t choose to focus on them.   I choose to spend my days focusing on the people that are dating. And trust me, I’ve heard plenty of the “The right person comes when you aren’t looking,” “God has someone so special saved for you,” and “Would you even want to date who are they dating, anyways,” crap to last me a lifetime. But some days, it doesn’t change the fact that I am confronted online every minute with pictures of happy couples, flashy engagement rings, and Pinterest wedding boards, all while I’m sitting across from a couple canoodling in a study area across from me. This is not to say that I am not wildly happy for my friends that are in relationships and getting engaged, I am, but I also want it to be my turn too. Let’s all be happy and dating together, am I right?

I have liked plenty of boys over the course of my 21 years here on this earth, and with that comes plenty of opportunities to both be liked and to not be the one liked. I constantly find myself in positions where I’m not chosen over another girl. Sometimes the boy has no idea I even liked them, sometimes they do and they only liked me as a friend, and sometimes I just annoyed them. But either way, it is too easy for me to find myself comparing myself to those “better” girls they chose over me. It is easy to get consumed about why you weren’t chosen. Is it’s because she’s funnier than me? Because she’s shorter than me? Am I too much, or not enough, or show my gums too much when I smile? The list can go on and on. And I’m left crying in my bed knee deep in her 8th-grade pictures on Facebook wishing that God had made me more like her. Because according to that boy I had obsessed about, she was worth it. And since I wasn’t picked, I was not.

That’s how I used to let myself think. I used to let myself get jealous of my friends’ successes, spend my days wishing I was someone else, and hating certain qualities about myself that made me who God wanted me to be. This New Year, I am learning to be expectant. I think it is all too easy at times to believe that God has great plans and ambitions for other people. The type of people who can recite whole chapters of scripture, who never have a bad hair day, and who always win awards. But that’s not the case. That’s a lie we have told ourselves again and again like a bad nursery rhythm to ease the pain that we are not enough. You are special, you are loved, you are chosen. Not enough? That thought is unfathomable to a God’s whose thoughts we can’t even begin to imagine. He wants to use you right where you are today.

In this crazy life we think we can be satisfied if we are given a sense of worth; if we win the employee of the month at our workplaces, get complimented on our outfits, or get the highest grade in the class. We think that our worth depends on what we do, who we know, and how we look. I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t. Our worth was determined for us long ago when Christ hung on the cross to pay the price for our sins. He didn’t just die for the people that have it all together, the popular kids in high school, the girls you think are more beautiful than you, He died for all of us. Because we are all worthy and equal in His sight.

For example, it’s like being the worship leader at a church. Because let’s be real, everyone wants to be the worship leader, right?  It seems so exciting to be able to lead people in singing songs to the King of the World. They show love to people during altar calls, stir up the Holy Spirit through a simply repeated verse,  and get the credit for picking songs that quite literally save people’s lives.  No one really thinks about the person pushing the words along on the PowerPoint. Unless, of course, they get off and you don’t know the words to the song. But the person who is pushing the slides on the PowerPoint is just as valuable and important in God’s eyes as the worship leader. The worship leader needs the person pushing the PowerPoint too. If people don’t know the words to a song, the worship leader’s job is irrelevant. No one’s lives would be touched, no one would get that “Come to Jesus” moment they are craving. Because to have a great worship service you need both parts.

“For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

And I don’t know you or the area where you are struggling with comparison today, but I can guarantee you that wishing for another’s gift will only lead to you wasting yours. We all have different purposes, different tasks, and different challenges we face every day. For example, I am not a girl who has ever been overly self-conscious of my body.  It breaks my heart to see my friends and loved ones spending their days hating the details of themselves that were loving crafted. But, where many of my friends have dealt with that issue, they have had no problem getting boy attention, where I have struggled.  Because the enemy wants us to believe that it’s just us who feel left out, abandoned, and less than at times; but that is not close to being true.

Maybe you’ve wondered if God could ever use you because you look around at your Christian friend group, church, or college and see plenty of people more prepared, and in your mind, better equipped to serve God’s kingdom. Maybe you wonder if there’s enough room for you to also have this dream, or that desire, or that ambition. What if you’re too late?

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” – Matthew 9:37

I am not a competitive person by nature. When I used to run on my track team in high school, I would literally size up the other girls on the race line to see if I would be ok with them beating me. “If she beats me I won’t be upset because she went to States last year, but that girl, she’s so annoying. I have to beat her.”  I’m all about pushing myself, but I don’t have much of a pain tolerance or a big desire to push so hard I throw up. The ironic part of all this is that while I would love to be more competitive on a sports team which is healthy, I chose to be competitive in comparison.

I hungrily read blog posts written by other strong Christian women, on the online magazine I often write for, or a book suggested by a friend and end up feeling miserable by the end. Because I’m afraid that her great article that has so much wisdom and knowledge means there isn’t enough room for me to post anymore. After all, she got more likes and comments than me anyways, right? Wrong. Remember the verse above, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

 

Just because she is very talented in the same area of you…doesn’t mean you have to get a new hobby.

Just because your friend got a job first…doesn’t mean you won’t also get a job you love.

Just because everyone around you is dating…doesn’t mean God is calling you to be a spinster.

Just because she has the same dress.. doesn’t mean you’ll look the same or less good when you wear it.

To be honest, while I was writing this article I took a break to casually peruse Instagram. Suddenly I found myself looking at photos of my friends studying abroad, seeing other friends reconnecting, and of course, date night photos. All while I was writing this article in my PJs on a Saturday night. I tell you this to let you know that I haven’t perfected this either. I can only give you some tips that have helped me and hope they can do the same in your life. Because like I said before, no one has it all together.

  1. Spend time with God each morning. This is a major struggle for me. If you know me at all, you know that I am a 10 pm in bed kind of girl. However, I don’t spring up and sing like Snow White in the mornings either. I like to sleep, 10, 12 hours. Getting up for me is never fun, frankly getting up from sleep ever is never fun. But I do notice a significant difference in my ability to control my thoughts when I do my devotions in the morning versus the afternoon or night. Every morning when we wake up we are facing a great battle. This happens between the enemy and our thoughts. Don’t give him any more ammo.
  2. Be on the lookout. Every day from God is a gift. We need to be on the lookout each day from the urgings of the Holy Spirit to talk to that person who looks lonely, speak the Bible verse our friends need to hear, and follow the call to sign up for a new club or activity. We need to realize that God has a plan to use us each day in big and small ways. Don’t miss your gift by noticing everyone else’s.
  3. Limit your time on social media. Social media is the food that feeds the comparison monster.  Though social media is a great way to keep in contact with others, it is also too easy to get caught up in how many followers, likes, and comments we get on something we’ve posted. Suddenly, we are comparing ourselves to Amy’s photos wondering why we aren’t cool enough to get as many likes as she did on that picture of her cat.  That’s the problem with social media. So I’m not saying to quit social media, but if you know that you struggle with comparison, limit the number of times you check it each day.
  4. Give yourself a break. Realize that you are going to have days where you are bloated, have zits covering your chin, and forget to pluck your eyebrows. On those days or other days where you feel like you could never be as good as insert name here, realize that you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. God has already proved to you that you are worth it and worthy of being pursued. The moment those toxic thoughts enter your head, simply take a deep breath and relinquish it to God. He can take these thoughts and give you the peace you require. He can give you the confidence to stand on top of these thoughts and conquer them once and for all.
  5. Finally, fill yourself with what God says about you, not what others think of you or the horrible things that you think about yourself. Look to the verses that say that you were chosen, you were set apart, you are loved, you are worthy, you were created beautifully and with a beautiful purpose. God can satisfy our deepest desires and handle our deepest fears. Let Him shoulder your burdens, insecurities, and doubts each day when they’re too much to handle.

Remember that comparison is a battle that we all are constantly facing, but what do you say? Are you ready to win that battle today?

Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Keep Failing

2017. A year that looms before us unknown and sweet with expectations. It’s exciting to think that we have no idea what this year will bring. Many of us wish to find something new to fill the void in our hearts this year; a new person, a new hobby, a new figure. Many of us see this New Year as an opportunity to become the person we’ve always wanted to be. The person who spends time regularly with God, who invests more in other people, or actually gets on that workout regime.

But we face a problem as we hastily throw down resolutions after resolutions on notebooks and random scraps of paper. We face the problem of reality. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when 2017 has just begun. It only takes a minute to look out at the gray and snowy January day for you to lose the hope that you had to complete the task. So why do we fail? Why do we forget about achieving our resolutions by the time March rolls around? Why do we not become those people that we hope to be?

I think that the answer is rather simple. We are set on being someone new instead of becoming someone new. From the minute our glasses clink ushering in the New Year, we are set on being this “new version” of ourselves.  Maybe for you, that meant being less selfish, gossiping less, or being a better friend. Maybe you hoped to find contentment, to increase your spiritual life, or to help out your family more. These are all great plans, but we must remember that nothing comes easily in life. The process is everything. We need help. We need God. We are broken and damaged shells of people. We are not our own.

In the Bible, we see story after story of characters undergoing trials and joys on a journey that would lead them to who they were ultimately designed to be. They didn’t just wish that God would use them in big ways, they took steps to put God’s plans into motion. Think about the story of Paul. He had a major transformation, yet he didn’t become God’s vessel to the Gentiles overnight. He probably was scared to death and afraid, just like many of us. Luckily, God can take our brokenness and weaknesses to be used for His strengths. We are able to read book after book of Paul’s spiritual and personal trials to see how he learned to depend on God above anyone and anything else.

Or let’s look at the life of Peter. When God first called him to be a fisher of men, did he become one of the main leaders of Christianity the next day? No. Face it, he was just a smelly fisherman that was curious and maybe even a little bored with his mundane life. But he took a step. He gave God the opportunity to shape him and make him into who he was intended to be.  By letting God see his heart, his loves, and his failures, Peter became the man who was the rock of the Catholic Church. Do you think after the rooster crowed he was thinking how powerfully God would use him in the lives of others?

Just know that you are not alone in trying to improve yourself but falling short. You are not alone in having great intentions that you couldn’t quite keep. We live in a crazy busy world. We spend our days racing from work to the gym to our quiet time to dinner to trying to squeeze in an episode of Netflix, all while trying to maintain 8 hours of sleep. Our eyes are bleary from the all-nighters we have pulled. And we find ourselves putting on more activities, finding new hobbies, maintaining more friendships, and having less time for God each year.  Have you ever stopped to ask God what desires and plans He has for your life? To ask Him how He wants to use and shape you this New Year? Maybe that’s where you need to start.

And then we face the question of what are the best resolutions? Thanks to social media and modern blogging( haha) we find that every publication, friend, and parent has an idea of what we should be working on this New Year. So we find ourselves up to our ears in self-help books, crazy weight loss solutions, and “read the Bible in a year” plans. All seem to promise that we will better ourselves, be someone different, and become who we always wanted to be just for signing up for their newsletter. That’s not true.

The only person who knows what we need to work on, what sins we need to improve, and what idols we need to kick, is God. Have you asked Him? Maybe this year He’s calling you to give up a bad habit, maybe it’s leading a Bible study, maybe it’s joining a ministry on your campus. But it could be as easy as smiling to everyone you pass on the sidewalk or talking to that girl who seems lonely in your humanities class. Whatever it may be, I urge you to spend time prayerfully asking God what He has in store for you this New Year. Every year has its fair share of ups and downs, but by having God as your constant companion, you can be prepared for whatever life throws at you.

Over these next few weeks, I will be introducing different resolutions I have for the New Year for you to either join in on or to ignore. This New Year, I hope to find ways to not be someone different but to begin the process of becoming the woman of God I have been created to be. I want to become more content, unplugged from social media, expectant, intentional with others, and more serving. Now, none of these are easy tasks that I can complete overnight. Unfortunately, I can’t offer you any quick tips to become these things in 10 minutes or any cheats. My only offer is to dig into these issues using scripture and to start a journey that most likely won’t be completed in 2017. Because we shouldn’t be striving to become better just for 2017. We should be trying to become the person that God will say, “Well done good and faithful servant,” to at the end of our lives.

So are you ready to become a better kingdom server for God? Are you ready to stop making resolutions and start making changes? God is ready to guide you through this uncertain and unknown New Year, all you have to do is ask Him to lead the way.