community

5 Ways To Grow In Christian 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 a 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 communityand 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.community

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 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?

1.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. community

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 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 a 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.

2. 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.

3. Reach Out To Others community

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.

4. 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.

5. Be Intentional community

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.

 

God's will quote

How To Recover When God’s Will Breaks Your Heart

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.

God's will quote 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 purpose in our trials that we might never understand or see 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?

God's will quote

 

 

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 good for you right now, even in the midst of your pain. God provided for me, even when I thought He had left me forever.

God's will quote

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

graduation

Final Remarks From A Graduating College Senior

“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

  1. 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 are 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.

  1. 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 work place, 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 pot holes, 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 from 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.

college bible verse

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 a 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?

bible verse

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 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 about not making any friends in college. He was there when I thought I would never get an internships 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 He has 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 no where to turn.

So in tbible versehe 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!

  1. 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.

singleness quote

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 about 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 loving 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

2. 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?

singleness bible verse

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.

  1. 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

singleness quote

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!