dear (college) freshman julia,
you have eighteen days until you move in to college. finally. you have spent this summer equal parts wishing it away and trying to hold onto the fleeting moments.
as you begin college, I hope you remember that this summer has taught you that it’s important to live in this moment, no matter what it hands you. you have the tendency to reach for tomorrow, forgetting that today is right in front of you, but please learn to hold onto today—it will be gone before you know it. please promise that you won’t miss a thing.
you are bent toward anxiety and it most likely will become prevalent in college as well. when anxiety comes, know that you rest in the hand of a God who cares for the sparrows, who calms the seas, who knows every detail of you. He says “Be still and know that I am God.” Be still. God has spoken and his voice is more powerful than any anxiety that you fear may overtake you.
in an old journal, I once wrote “I want to swim in the depths of God and find him overwhelming” and that’s my hope for you. i pray that this year, more than ever before, you are overwhelmed by God, instead of overwhelmed by anxiety. I pray that you learn to listen to Him and to listen to the voices of those leading you toward Him. I pray that you become a voice that leads others toward Him.
freshman Julia, if I could have only one wish for you this year, it would be this:
I hope your voice becomes stronger. I hope you learn how to listen to God so intently that you know how to lead people toward him. know that you will inevitably stumble in your endeavors to listen to and know God, but that he will give you buckets and buckets of grace.
gratefully accept the grace that God hands you but please, please try not to abuse it—it does not give you the license to sin, but it provides you the privilege to extend grace to others. I hope you give yourself and those around you all the grace that you are capable of doling out; know that one of the best ways you are capable of mirroring Christ is to offer grace to others. college is a time of constant community and you will be tossed the best and worst of people and confront the best and worst in yourself. You are in the process of becoming everything that you are meant to be and so are the people around you. fight to speak in kindness instead of frustration and to respond with infinite grace, because if God can give you grace, who are you to withhold it from another?
take a deep breath, girl. you’ve been waiting for this all of your life and it’s finally time for you to live it, so live it well.
julia, three(ish) weeks from moving in
dear sophomore julia,
Last year at this time you were facing the daunting prospect of starting college for the very first time. You were so excited but so nervous as you stood in the face of the unknown. This year is still unknown in many ways but it is different. At college, you have found places you belong, people you love, and things you’re passionate about. This second year, you get to return to that.
In the always moving, always busy college world, I pray you find balance and peace but never stop learning to push yourself. Your introverted soul was not created to constantly be around people but it was also not created to constantly be alone. Spend time with people— love them and be loved by them. You are part of a community here and are building a second family in this space. This year, consciously choose to be with people and learn the love of Christ through them.
Know that in these upcoming months, both bad days and good days will come. When the bad days press into you and make you want to forget the light, know you do not need to find the strength within yourself. Reach for God and reach for others with both hands; welcome the love and comfort other hearts are equipped to offer you. When the good days come, do not be too distracted to see them; hold the good moments and the people within them tightly to you. Treasure goodness, for there will be days it feels hard to see. And remember the hard days too, for they remind you of your dependence on God. Both the good and bad have purpose, but you will often not see it in the moment; this is okay, but keep your faith. God is always good and your bad days do not negate his goodness.
College is a time of learning but so many of your lessons won’t come from classes— they’ll come from the situations God nudges you into and the people God draws into your life. This year, try to keep your eyes wide open for what He’s teaching you instead of keeping your eyes on yourself or your frustrations. Pray continually for God’s help to see yourself, those around you, and your path more clearly.
Sophomore year is ahead of you and though it isn’t freshman year, it feels daunting too. Balance all you have learned in your first year with the knowledge that this year will likely be different in so many ways. In the knowns and the unknowns, know you are capable, loved, and valued. As life hands you situations you don’t understand or know how to handle, reach for the hands of others, the grace of God, and the strength you’ve cultivated within yourself. As always, you are a work in progress and God is moving every single day. Be present this year and try your best to not miss a thing.
Julia— five days from sophomore year