As this school year comes to an end, I’ve been reflecting on my last two years at a Christian college. And in all honesty, I’ve had a hard time not being discouraged. Thinking back to August two summers ago, I can picture perfectly the moment my parents drove me to Manhattan and dropped me off in a dormitory that I would be living in for two years. My anxious and ecstatic heart was in a whirlwind. If you could jump in my brain at that moment, there were two things on my mind. One, “I’m free from my parents authority!” And two, “This is a new beginning. No one knows anything about me and I can start all over.” Now, as I look back at my “oh so confident” self, I shake my head. If only I knew how that freshman self was naive. She was unprepared. She was about to begin a journey that would shape her in ways she never thought.
Don’t get me wrong, attending a Christian college has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. The amount of life long friendships I’ve developed, the memories I’ve made, and the knowledge I’ve obtained is priceless. However, as I drove my car around Manhattan the other night to clear up my thoughts, again I couldn’t help but reflect on every step and decision that I’ve made in the last two years. These include a multitude of mistakes. Being so independent has been a blessing yet also a curse. I wanted so much to start over, yet that freshman girl didn’t have a clue what that looked like. Because of uncertainty, I sought out change in ways that I shouldn’t have. Instead of seeking out my relationship with Christ, I used my mistakes to allow my heart to grow hard. Over the last two years, I’ve never doubted myself and my relationship with God more: simply because I had failed. I wasn’t that “oh so confident” freshman anymore because I had disappointed myself. I had made myself into someone that I wasn’t.
BUT, as I’ve been gradually and recently working through some of that bitterness in my heart, I sat in my car and couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with tears. Tears of joy with how God was working even when I couldn’t see it or didn’t realize it. I may regret not investing in areas I should have. I may regret decisions I made. I may regret the growth that didn’t happen. BUT, I don’t. Every single mistake, doubt, and step that I’ve taken these past two years has shaped me. They have brought me to where I am today. Through it all, God had a bigger picture in mind even when I messed up. His purpose has been to stretch me, challenge me, and test me in areas of my life that I never would have expected. No, I in no way have it all figured out. I struggle all the time. Yet, I can say with confidence that I am ten times closer to that person I wanted to be freshman year. God just took me down a longer path to get there- and for that, I am thankful. Instead of being discouraged about the end of my time at MCC, I am now encouraged. I am encouraged as I reflect on the incredible ways that God works. And now, I am encouraged about a new beginning at Kansas State University where I can anticipate the different ways that God will shape and mold me.