I am here to guest blog with my mom today on a topic that is very near and dear to my heart—college! I still remember the day my parents dropped me off at Lincoln Tower. I was in the highest room (floor 23) of the tallest tower on Ohio State’s campus. I had new supplies littering my desk, clothes scattered across my floor and in my teeny tiny closet, and a bed my mom made for me one last time. I was excited, yes, but also pretty unsure of myself and what I was about to get into.
I imagine some of you are feeling the very same way.
Fast forward a few years into college and you will find my mom, my dad, and me on the back porch at home. The cicadas are buzzing and it is sticky hot. My mom’s fallen face says it all—how could this have happened? I had just finished explaining to them that I wanted nothing to do with “their God” and I was no longer a believer.
My parents’ worst nightmare had come true.
Fortunately, this is a happy story. On Valentine’s Day of this year, 2016, I asked Christ back into my life. My dad was the one to baptize me and I still remember the feeling afterwards of relief and joy as he wrapped his arms around me, both of us dripping wet.
Today I would like to settle some of your fears and give you some pointers when it comes to maneuvering college as a Christian. You are about to embark on one of the most exciting, scary, fun, and unsure times of your life.
- Explore. Take a class you never would. Use this time to challenge yourself as a thinker. I don’t regret any of the classes I took in college. I don’t regret any of the concerts I went to, any of the books I read, any of the movies I saw, or any of the clubs I joined. You will grow immensely as a person and as a Christian when you wrestle with the unknown and with beliefs that are different from your own.
Just be sure to balance those different beliefs and experiences by finding a strong church family or diving into your Bible or having someone you can go to with questions. My parents served as sounding boards whenever I had a question (which was often. Thanks for your patience, my dear parents). Learn my lesson ahead of time, though. I never found a church family. My bible grew dusty. I was pursuing knowledge and experience and neglected that foundation with God.
- You will have questions. About a lot of things. Don’t panic. Some of you may take a class or even just hear a snippet of something that makes you start to challenge your beliefs. I vividly remember the anthropology class I took my freshman year. My roommate and I wanted to take a class together and I thought it sounded interesting. After digging into an article about the Homo habilis skeleton, I remember thinking that maybe Creationism didn’t have it all right.
At first, I felt guilty for having these questions. I was a strong Christian in high school and here I was, my freshman year, wondering about Creationism. I couldn’t help having those questions, though. There will be times in your life, not just in college, where God does not feel present or you question a move He wants you to make. It’s ok. We are human. That happens. However, I wish I would have confided in my parents about my questions sooner. I’m not sure they would be able to answer all of them, but I would have had their support much sooner.
- Your relationship with God is not the same relationship that your mom has. Or your dad. And my parents have a different relationship with God from each other. And I have a different relationship with God from you. And I have a different relationship with God now than when I was in high school. It does not look the same, sound the same, or feel the same.
And there is nothing wrong with that. God did not make us all the same, which means we are all going to have different relationships with Him. That does not make any one relationship better than another. My mother has loved and grown with God for many, many years. He is her Father in many senses of the word. My relationship is tentative and a little shy. I enjoy just talking with Him. He helps soothe my anxieties and I love thanking him for every little thing, from the legs that carry me places to my loving husband to the oatmeal I get to eat in the morning. Even though I feel a little shy, exploring this relationship is so much more authentic than when I was in high school. He aches for a relationship with you, no matter what form it comes in.
I am so excited for you, my dear reader. And maybe even a little jealous, if I’m being completely honest. College was challenging in so many ways and it will be really hard at times. Buy tissues. You will cry. But a lot of those tears will be from laughing hard while playing Bezzer Wizzer on a dorm floor. And saying goodbye to your best friends you met in college, who will leave for Florida to pursue an awesome career. And relating over your anxieties with a college roommate.
Have fun, find a good support system, pray. I will be praying right along with you.