thoughts on starting college

It’s hard to believe October’s already here. And yet, in a way, it feels like it should be months beyond.

This past season has held enormous change for me.

My grandmother passed away unexpectedly at the start of summer. My grandfather downsized from his home of over 50 years. I graduated and found out I would be an auntie twice over. I said many hard goodbyes to friends and family, took the long drive down the coast to California, and moved out.

Now, I’m a college kid. I take classes and work at the library. I eat cafeteria food and pay coins to do my laundry. I finished my fifth journal since I was eleven and got ill with what a church friend called “group living gunk” my second week of school.

It’s quite the life.

There are days when it’s easier, and days when it’s harder—days when homesickness settles in my chest, days when I remember everything I left behind and grow weary of how long it’s taking me to adjust.

Perhaps hardest of all has been realizing how weak I still am, how much I still depend on myself and forget the One who is always with me, who alone is worthy of my trust. Again and again and again I fall short, and in my weakness feel weaker still when I look ahead and see how far I have to go.

At times like that, it’s easy to wish I’d never come to college. Bitter thoughts bombard my mind as I wonder how I thought I could ever navigate life, young and inexperienced as I am. Who am I to think I could deal with that thing called a.d.u.l.t.i.n.g.?

I’ll catch complaints on the tip of my tongue, just about to slip out… “I have to complete five assignments by Thursday” or “I only get 15 minutes to eat because of how late my shift runs” or “I never have enough time!” or—

They just keep coming and coming.

It’s enough to make me feel like a regular Eeyore.

Having a roommate has been another adjustment, albeit a much pleasanter one. As the weeks pass and we learn each other’s ways, experiences, and preferences, it becomes more and more obvious how completely different we are. Different backgrounds, different personalities, different perspectives. It’s funny, really. We often laugh in wonder at the fact that we were matched to be roommates at all. And amazingly, our dynamic fits. It blows my mind to think that two people, as opposite as night and day, can have a real, strong friendship in Christ. Because having Christ in common is enough—more than enough—to bond together those who are his.

I’m so grateful for the many ways I’ve already been so encouraged and convicted because of my roommate. I remember one day in particular (and, come to think of it, many days after) where she stopped and said something along the lines of: “I have to remind myself that it’s a privilege to be here. I say I have to do this assignment or go to that class—but really, it’s that I get to attend these classes and I get to do these assignments, and it’s a blessing.” As she speaks, I’ll be sitting on my bed, legs propped up, chipping away at the reading for my journalism class, but her words stop me dead.

Whew! That’s wisdom right there, and it wasn’t even directed at me. It’s funny how God uses the words of those close to you to hit you where you need it most.

Now, every time I’m tempted to complain, what she preached to herself comes back to me… those magic words: “I get to.”

I’ll switch it up if I remember in time. Now, instead of “I have to go to class” groaned in typical Eeyore style, I’ll screech out “I’m excited to go to class today!” Or instead of moaning over 110° weather, I’ll look up into the pure blue of the sky and laugh and try to exclaim, “What a beautiful day it is!”

Does it take effort? No question about it. I can’t count how many times I’ve failed, forgotten how much I have to be grateful for. Those failures bring me down and lead to great discouragement. But I have no right to complain. Not when the sun is shining or the rain is dumping; not when my Thursdays are packed or my Fridays are dull; not because of this or that or anything. There is so much to rejoice in!

And so, like my roommate gives herself a sermon in our bedroom, I have to preach reminders to myself on the walk to the classroom.

I remind myself of what I know from God’s Word: that I am here because God has willed that I should be here. And nothing—not the weather, not my workload, not the relationships that I build—is outside of his sovereign plan. I am here because he placed me here and every circumstance around me is orchestrated by my gracious Father.

Yet, he also knows my heart, he feels every one of my tears as if it were his own. He walks with me through the valley, disciplining me for my good but tenderly, lovingly guiding me and hearing my prayers.

In the hands of the God of the Bible—the good, all-wise, all-powerful, totally sovereign God, I have every reason to rejoice.

Yes, I am weak and inexperienced. And yes, I grow weary often. My life at college has not been easy.

Yet it is in my greatest weakness that his power is perfected. It is when I truly know my inadequacy that I begin to truly know dependence on the One who’s grace is sufficient.* Every breath is a gift, every moment a testament to his mercies, new morning by morning.

So, even in the hardest of times, this is my prayer: that I would walk in obedience, relying on the Holy Spirit to convict me and to empower me to live faithfully before my Father. And maybe along the way I’ll find the deepest joy that comes only from fully surrendering in all things to Christ.

Tell me about you. How has your fall been so far? What are some ways the Lord has been convicting and growing you? If you have attended/are attending college, what were some of your most challenging experiences?

*2 Cor. 12:9

Cover photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash.

12 thoughts on “thoughts on starting college”

  1. Hey Libby! It’s Bella! Told you I was gonna check out your blog;) It’s so sweet! That homesickness is real… and I am also surprised at how long it is taking me to adjust. Not sure if it’s just an introvert thing, but I still feel like I’m trying to get comfortable. I’m really looking forward to going home and seeing my family for Thanksgiving! I can relate to a lot of what you wrote here


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