Going from a senior in high school to a soon-to-be college graduate is a little daunting, but it's also the perfect time to reflect on how Jesus has been present every step of the way. I know a lot of y'all are going to be high school seniors, headed to college, or getting ready to leave the university. I also know classes have either started or will be starting in the coming weeks. I figured that as I reflect, it wouldn't be a bad idea to share some of my thoughts with you. Here are seven key things that I've learned over the course of my college career! I pray that they are comforting, helpful, and that Jesus will speak through them.
1. God's Behind-The-Scenes Work Is Phenomenal
If over the past 4-5 years I received a dollar for each time I asked Jesus, "Why am I here? What are you doing? Why is this happening? Are you sure?" I would not be concerned about being unemployed with a college degree. I would be ready to retire. Truthfully I've never been good at just accepting a situation for what it is, trusting Him, and having faith that He knows best. I'm a huge work in progress, but as a senior, I'm ahead of where I was as a freshman. There are things God is working on that you cannot see, and that's ok. It doesn't mean they aren't happening.
After Jesus had been crucified on Good Friday, there was Holy Saturday. It was dark, Jesus was dead, hope seemed lost, but Holy Saturday was the best reminder that the silence of God doesn't equal the absence of God." Joy came in the morning. He was at work. He's the Master Director. We only need to give Him ourselves, a pretty bad cast. And yet, He still delivers an incredible film, because it has nothing to do with how bad we are, it has everything to do with how great He is. Don't waste your time trying to get a behind-the-scenes sneak peek, as long as you're collaborating with Him, He will deliver a masterpiece.
2. You Aren't As Wise As You Think You Are
When I first got to college I joined a Bible Study and began to hang out with an older student who became a mentor of mine. He was a senior when I was a freshman and he said to me, "The difference between 22 and 18 is insane." In that moment I thought, "Ok dude," but he was right. The amount of growth you experience from year to year is truly incredible. Bottom line, everyone on social media is of the mindset that they are a theologian or a politician, and for the most part, you aren't. Young Christians feel this incredible urge to teach without ever sitting under teaching.
Humble yourself, embrace the challenge of patience, relish the opportunity to learn, that's what you're there to do anyway. Be ok with taking advice from older people who are more seasoned in their walk with Jesus. Yes, two years or four years makes a huge difference at this age. There are exceptions, but I'm willing to bet that 90% of the time there is someone wiser than you that you could learn from. Seek that opportunity, you will not regret it. At a minimum, it's nice to be able to talk with someone that can help guide you through things as you walk with Jesus in college.
3. Loneliness Is Defining Or Destructive
My freshman year of college was the loneliest I have ever been. My friends had decided to go the greek life route. I knew I wasn't strong enough to handle a commitment to the lifestyle that entailed and simultaneously maintain my balance in my walk with Christ. Where I was going to school before I transferred to Texas A&M, declining to join a fraternity was social suicide. I didn't get invited to much, I knew I wanted to transfer but I didn't know where, I hooped a lot and that was it. I was walk-to-class-with-your-hood-up-while-listening-to-Bon-Iver-pandora-lonely.
Once you, "leave the nest," you will experience some degree of loneliness. It may not be like the loneliness I experienced. You might get invited to things and have a lot of friends, but there is no amount of photos you can post to Instagram, and no amount of likes you can accumulate that will make you feel less lonely as you try to fake your happiness to the world. Loneliness can define or destroy you. At first I was getting destroyed. I'm a fairly emotional guy, but I don't cry a lot. I cried a decent amount my freshman year though, mostly out of frustration from being lonely and having no direction. One day I decided to get direction. I picked up my Map (Bible), and began to engage in a detailed prayer life. I didn't know the power of prayer until I started doing it, like most people. When you meet a challenge with faith, the tables turn. The world isn't challenging you, you're challenging the world. No matter what the enemy throws at you, you stand before the challenges united with The One who overcame the greatest challenge of all.
4. You Are Who You Surround Yourself With
This is pretty simple. I don't feel the need to elaborate a lot. Surround yourself with people that are encouraging you in your relationship with Jesus. HOWEVER, do NOT let that stop you from engaging people that don't know Him. I cannot stress that enough. Pop your Christian bubble and make moves for the Kingdom.
5. Cool Has Been Redefined
The beautiful thing about college is hearing other people's stories. People funnel into the university from different socio-economic statuses, ethnicities, cultures, creativity, backgrounds, religions, and so on. The beautiful thing about the stories is that we all need Jesus the same amount. Jesus is the glue that brings differences together. It might not be the cleanest understanding of one another initially, but eventually He is what holds us together in fellowship and community. If all your friends look, think, and act like you, it's time to get out and meet some new people. Nothing is cooler than seeing how Jesus can bring two unlikeliest of friends together through a mutual love for Him.
6. Be As Thankful For Closed Doors As You Are For Open Doors
Based on initial thought, closed doors have a negative connotation and open doors have a positive connotation. This is not necessarily the case when we're talking about Jesus and His plan for our life. There are some doors that God shuts in our life and it is devastating at the time, but down the road you realize, "Good thinkin, Jesus." It's like when you're in a relationship that ends. You thought that person was, "the one," but then you end up dating the person that is actually, "the one," and you see why God closed a door and you couldn't be more thankful. When God opens a door for you, step through in confidence, not recklessness. Make sure He opened it and you didn't, pray and talk with Him.
Some doors we force open, and some doors God opens, make sure you're stepping into a room where He is present. When God closes a door on you, don't sit in front of it and pout, don't grow bitter in your thoughts as to why He shut it. You may never know why He shut it, but that's a lot less scary than finding out what He saved you from. God's present lessons are a lot more bearable than His passive lessons. Remember to be just as thankful for the closed doors as you are for the open ones. God is no, "Yes Man," but He has a plan and it's always better than yours.
7. Your Success Doesn't Look The Same As Other's Success
Comparison kills contentment and your calling. Learn to be content with where God has you and He will bless you. You will go to college, you will feel like people are having a better college experience than you, you will not graduate in the same place as other people, and that's totally fine. Listen, some people will have great grades and you will have great friends, some people will have a once in a lifetime internship but you will meet that once in a lifetime person, some people's school will have an incredible year in sports and yours will not, it happens. Truth of the matter is this, you will want what you don't have. If you are not constantly pursuing Jesus then you will not find contentment. You can be in a great relationship, but then you will wish you had a great job. You could have a great job, but then you will wish you were in a great relationship.
Jesus has a plan for your life. We all have the same Coach, but He runs different schemes for different people. If you're not content with Him, the obviousness of your discomfort seeps into every aspect of your life. Jealousy, anger, and so many other emotions start to cloud our thoughts when we compare what we want with what others have, but here is a truth I continue to learn slowly but surely: If you have Jesus, and if you are truly content with having Him and Him alone, then you already have everything. This doesn't mean you can't want things, I want a lot of things. It only means that He will bless you in His time and in His way. And when I think about it, I think about how Jesus hung on a cross for me when I could do nothing for Him, how He sees my sin so clearly and still loves me so much, and then I come to this conclusion: I like His way better than mine.
The hilarious thing about college is when you ask a freshman, "What are you majoring in?" They respond with something absurd like, "I'm double majoring in Biomechanical engineering and Pre-med with a minor in everything the school offers." When you ask a senior they respond with, "Well I'm majoring in _______ but I have no clue what I'm doing." And that is ok. The weird thing is, seniors seem way less stressed than freshman. I think this is indicative of a lot of maturation and growth. As Jesus stretches your faith and reveals His character to you over the years, you realize that your life is in His hands, and that's more comforting than anything else we can seek in high school or college. No grades, job, relationship, organization, or position will be able to stand in the gap where Jesus hung. That is Who you live for, that is Who you build your foundation on, so quit reading and get to work my friends.
Catch up with Luke on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook: @lukelezon