College ended almost two years ago for me in May. Two whole years. Some days it feels like I should be sitting in Potter Hall waiting for class to start, and other days college feels like a distant dream, one that never happened in reality but only in my mind. Lately, the moments of college that I hold so tightly to my heart have been swirling around, as if Snow Storm Jonas has invaded my personal space. I just can’t shake the overwhelming nostalgia of those four years that molded and chiseled and pushed and, in a way, created the person I am today. You’d think after a year and half of the “real world”, the hard honest truth that college is in fact OVER would have sunk in already, but for me I think it’s just starting to sink.
From the moment I graduated college, my life has been in fast forward. The day after graduation, my dear friend (Jana) and I hopped on a plane to East Asia for a month long mission trip. Just the two of us. It was exhilarating and terrifying all wrapped into one as we endured over a day of flights and taxi rides. Over the course of a month, we lived on campus, made friends, drank a lot of coffee (of course), ate a lot of amazing food, mastered the Squatty Potty, and most importantly, shared the Gospel. With people who had never heard the name of Jesus. With people who worship a government, rather than a living God. We shared the Gospel with those who had no hope, except that they would reincarnate into a bird or a cloud when they died (I’m not hating on any sort of religious beliefs, just stating exactly what our friends believed to be truth). We quietly and intentionally shared our own stories of faith and talked through the story of Jesus, to which a few had eyes to see and ears to hear. It was a beautiful, yet painful, experience that I’ll never forget.
Once home from East Asia, I moved back to Lexington, began graduate school, and a new job (that only took up a little less than MY ENTIRE LIFE). After a few months of getting adjusted to graduate school, I moved from Lexington back home with my mama. A few months into living with my mama and graduate school and working, I began dating the hubby and from then life literally FLEW by without warning. We dated long distance, traveled between Kentucky and Missouri too many times to count, he moved back home and started seminary, we got engaged and four months later married, moved into our home, and starting building a life together (which in and of itself is a journey).
Needless to say, I haven’t had a moment of pause or an exhaled breath of “settled” in over a year until now. We’ve been married almost three months and our home is finally coming together. We’re involved in our church (PTL for JCC) and making friends. We’re settling. I’m settling. I finally feel at home after the craziness of the past year and a half. Which is why I think college has been knocking its bittersweet hand on the door to my heart. Which is why I can’t stop thinking about those long nights in the library with the best friends, or sharing a room with four other girls (let alone a house with 15 others girls too), or Monday nights at my favorite house surrounded by girls with all different stories yet sharing the same story of Christ. Man, college was sweet.
For the first time, I’m actually processing the end of college. I’m glad it finally hit me as to why I’ve been feeling slightly down and missing bits of the past recently. My heart is finally catching up to my mind that I’m not going back to classes on the Hill. That Sunday evenings are now spent meal planning, laundry folding, and couch snuggling – rather than at sorority meetings. Instead of having 15 girls as roommates, I now have one…who is a guy. No more knowing everything about my closest friends, from what they wear every day to their plans every night. A lot has changed and I’m finally accepting it.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of change. Even good change. I like things the way they are. Right in my comfort zone. With my people. I get nostalgic over the simplest of things, like the end of a vacation or getting a new phone (I’m an idiot, I know). So the reality that college is in the past and that’s where it’s staying can really wreck a girl you know. I mean c’mon, I cry at every final episode of a show’s season. Not the series finale (although I do cry at those too), but the SEASON finale. I seriously have issues.
But I must be honest. Recently, I’ve felt more sadness that that time of my life is over. I’ve been yearning for it back. Hoping and searching for that same comfort that college gave me in my life now. And because I’ve been sad, I’ve also been mad (because that’s how girls work). I find myself longing for the relationships, the memories, the events, the sleepovers, and everything else I had in college to be in my life right now. I want the same things I had then, plus my hubby, now. And I’m mad that I don’t. I’m mad that making friends is so much harder without a sorority (I’m sorry but it’s so true). I’m mad that a community of believers wasn’t handed to me, and instead I had to create one. I’m mad that sleepovers with friends don’t happen spontaneously, and that now we have to plan weeks in advance to even grab dinner together. I’m plain mad. And sad.
In my sadness, and madness, though, God proves His faithfulness once again. Because did you catch it earlier? We’re settling. I’m settling. We’ve found a church, or rather our church found us. And within that church are beautiful people who have taken us in as their own. And you know how I was just complaining about having to make my own Christian community? Well that’s bogus. I didn’t have anything to do with the sweet bible study that God DID IN FACT hand to me. He designed and organized each one of our lives to be willing and ready and to actually need the group that gathered at my house this week. And you remember those Monday nights I miss? Well, I’m starting my own. How crazy is it that the only time my bible study girls could meet together was on Monday nights?! Um hello – THAT’S GOD.
In my sad/mad/complaining state, I once again failed to recognize all that God HAS given me. It’s so easy for me to focus on the past and see the good there, but it’s so hard for me to focus on the present and see all the good here too. When I focus on the past with a heart that isn’t satisfied with the present, I become ungrateful or envious or even self-righteous because my heart isn’t in the right place. I’m not full of truth. I’m full of flesh. When I’m full of truth, I am content and obedient in the present because Christ calls me to be. Because my reliance isn’t on myself, but on Him (Philippians 4:8). And as I’m full of truth in the present, I’m able to look backwards and see the good (and bad things) of the past as blessings. I can miss those things. I can even long for those things. But the things of the past don’t have a hold over me in the present. But only if I’m living in the truth. When I’m living in the flesh, I look at my present right now and wish for something more. I think I deserve more than what I have right now. In the flesh, I look backwards and see that things were better then. That I want those things now because those things will make me happy. Do you see the way your heart has complete control over the way you view your life? It’s amazing to me.
We have to stop looking back for what we want, stop looking forward for what we need, and start look around at what we have. And when I say “we”, I’m really talking about me. It is in right now that we find God’s peace. It’s right now that we rest. We can’t rest in the past because it’s already happened. And we can’t rest in the future because it hasn’t even happened yet. We’ve got to stop searching, and start resting.
So here’s my reality check for the week: College is over. It’s never coming back. And God is faithful to provide in every season of life. Especially in the here and now.
Oh and remember when I complained five minutes ago about not having anymore sleepovers? Well that’s bogus too because I’m headed to Louisville tomorrow for a good old fashioned sleepover with my girls and I can’t even begin to tell you how much our night together will be plastered all over social media. Get ready people.