Dear College Students (from My Former College Student)

Hello people!

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

 

A Half Century’s Worth of Wisdom, Stupidity and Stuff…

  1. My grandparents were wise…wiser than their 8th grade education let on.
  1. I didn’t truly appreciate the sacrifice my Granny and Gramps made until I was a parent of my own.
  2. I can jump from the front seat to the back seat of a ’67 VW with lightning speed when a cicada flies in my 80’s hair and makes that “summertime noise”
  3. I really didn’t have a clue as a teenager.
  4. My in-laws dinner music became my dinner music…smooth jazz calms down a brood of 5 better than Ozzy Osbourne any day.
  5. Don’t hill hop on the wrong side of the road when you’re only 15. (Thanks Weff for letting me drive.
  6. Hot boxing is a real thing…done in my teens, understood what it really was in my 30’s. Seriously. (Thanks again Weff…)
  7. Drive In Movies are the best for…watching movies on the big screen of course.
  8. I learned the most during the rough patches but didn’t realize it until later.
  9. Being married is hard. Staying married is harder. But it’s all worth it in the end.
  10. Having a lot of friends is great but having friends that are REAL is the best.
  11. Never let your man Shark Sweeper your naked butt.
  12. Having a kid at 18 and having a kid at 38 are way different.
  13. Life is all about balance.
  14. Being a Mom is the hardest most rewarding job on planet earth.
  15. I can drive a dump truck when necessary…and get my man and his backhoe unstuck.
  16. I could have an honorary degree in pediatrics and psychology thanks to my kids.
  17. Holding my man’s hand still makes me feel safe.
  18. I can shoot a 9mm like a boss…call me Annie Oakley.
  19. I can chuck dead chickens a country mile when needed.
  20. But I can’t kill a wounded one…thanks Heather and Steve.
  21. Sometimes I over-analyze the bejesus out of things…well maybe all the time but I’m working on that one.
  22. Good stuff can come from our wounded places when we are vulnerable enough to allow God to use us.
  23. Most meanness from women comes from places of insecurity.
  24. When Grace is found, growth abounds.
  25. My body shape and weight do not make me the person I am.
  26. Little ones don’t stay little forever.
  27. Teenager’s don’t stay teenager’s forever…thank you Jesus!
  28. My job does not define me.
  29. There is much to be learned in the failures.
  30. I am not my past mistakes.
  31. I still hate clowns, crowds and carwashes.
  32. I DID have the courage to go to Africa!
  33. There are no monsters in the closest but I still can’t sleep with the closet door open…thank you Stephen King and your “It” book!
  34. It is important to “like” who you are married to and not just love them.
  35. God really is Who He says He is and can get you out of the deepest of pits.
  36. I watched stupid movies like “Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke” (at the drive-in) and turned out ok…
  37. My kid’s failures and successes do not fully fall on my shoulders.
  38. Hurt people hurt people and I have been both.
  39. Granny was right when she told me when I left at 18, church family IS important.
  40. Simple doesn’t mean easy; hard doesn’t mean complicated.
  41. God really does work all things…the good, the bad, and the ugly…together for good…I do love Him so…(Romans 8:28)
  42. I have mad corn hole skills…beating an 11 year old makes this so.
  43. The older I get the more I don’t care what others think of me. Whether that’s maturity or hormones, I’m not sure.
  44. We’re all a little broken but the mosaic God creates out of the broken pieces is BEAUTIFUL!
  45. Prayer is potent. Ask my family.
  46. It’s okay to let loose and be me…I’m not perfect but I am likable.
  47. I am stronger than I know and braver than I think.
  48. I am worth it.
  49. I am loved.

Bonus:

  1. When I allowed myself to be vulnerable and not ashamed of my past…those things I did (stupid or otherwise) and those things that were done to me…it opened the door for others to do the same. It allowed for REAL conversations to take place. It allowed for REAL help to be sought out. It allowed for REAL healing to take place.

“What makes you vulnerable, makes you beautiful.” (Brene’ Brown)

So on this half century mark of a birthday, I’m thankful for those lessons. My prayer for the next 50 is I never stop learning and never stop growing as a person. I want to love well and forgive easy. I want to leave fingerprints of encouragement and hope. When I interact with others, I want them to walk away feeling more loved, more blessed and more courageous to simply be the beautiful selves they were meant to be.

Oh my word you guys! I’m 50!!

kw