Dear, Sweet Child of Mine,
I don’t know what plans the Lord has for you. I do believe that, like Hannah, there will come a time when I’m going to be required to give this living, breathing, part of my heart – YOU – back to God. I can hardly fathom that moment from where I stand. The yearning, the deep desire to have you in my life makes the sacrifice seem incomprehensible. But God will give the grace when that time comes.
You might go off to a foreign land, studying abroad or serving as a missionary. You may go to a local community college or a vocational school to pursue a dream. Perhaps you’ll venture a few states away and attend a university we’ve never even heard of, convinced it’s where you’re supposed to spend the next four years of your life. Maybe you hope to be a professional editor, a graphic designer, a pediatrician, or a music teacher. Or you might be totally and completely lost, feel like you have no real hopes and aspirations, but think you ought to go to college anyways. That’s kind of what I did.
When the time came for me to graduate from high school and test my wings, the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to go to college. It just seemed like the right choice. Those first three semesters at Spring Arbor University I changed my major no fewer than three times…more if you count all of the “I wonder if I should major in [insert hypothetical four year plan here]?” To be completely honest, I’m still not sure I made the “right” decision (graduating with a Philosophy/Religion degree). I certainly don’t regret the choices I made; I just don’t think there is only ONE RIGHT PATH and if you miss that exit the rest of your life is RUINED. I believe God is bigger and better than our declared major in college (or any other decision we make…big or small.)
Today I was reflecting on my years of living on a college campus. I learned so much in the classroom, studying textbooks, taking notes, meeting with professors. But here are a few lessons I learned outside of decree pursuits.
1) How to worship in music. I learned so much about the musicality behind instrumental worship as well as how to engage the whole body, soul, and spirit with Jesus through song. This prepared me wonderfully for the past five years of worship leading at our churches.
2) How to debate. Or, at the very least, how to disagree with someone’s opinions, share your own, and still like each other in the end. This one lesson has changed me completely. Disagreeing is a healthy process toward growth. Even if you passionately believe in your own perspective, debating can serve to strengthen your ideas and open your eyes to new (and potentially better) ways of believing.
3) How to share life with others. Living in close proximity to 8-28 girls from a wide array of backgrounds, lifestyles, and convictions teaches you a LOT of patience, the ability to deal with the awkwardness of confrontations, and the perspective to appreciate new ways of doing things.
4) How to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Though I certainly was not the picture of health for those four years, it was during my college career that I learned how to incorporate running and exercise into my daily routine. I learned how how many hours of sleep I required to function fully and how to handle the teasing when I told friends, “It’s bedtime.” I learned how to refrain from eating that delicious dining commons soft serve ice cream for everysinglemeal. Looking back, I realize how much I miss having a parent to tell me what I could and could not eat and serve perfect proportions. The sky was the limit and I had to learn my limits.
5) How to fall in love and stay in love. I got a phenomenal husband out of my college experience. I call that a major win. (disclaimer: I am in no way saying you should get a spouse out of your years on campus. It just worked out beautifully for us. Marriage can be a result of campus living, but it is not a necessity.)
I am looking forward to watching you learn your own lessons, and anticipating my own struggle with letting you go, letting you make your own choices, even letting you fail. But know this, Child: Jesus always holds you close, even when I can’t. Look to Him to teach you when I’m not there. He will be faithful to you just as He always has been to me.