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.