5 years ago today, I graduated from college. It was such an exciting and joy-filled day, with the sense of relief that it was over tangible in the air. As I reflect back over the last 5 years, I am amazed at the grace and mercy of our great God. In many ways, the person I am today and the person I was when I crossed that stage are two very different individuals.
Reminiscing on my college years feels like looking back on someone else’s life.
When I think back over my college experience, like everyone, I feel some nostalgia. I think fondly of fun times and making new friends. In many ways, though, college was a difficult time for me. Like most people who go away to college, I was suddenly away from home, learning some very difficult (but extremely valuable) lessons.
It all came to a head my senior year, 2014-2015.
I was lost. In my own selfish pride, though, I was completely blind to it. I was in a state of constant stress. I barely slept, and when I did sleep I didn’t rest. (My poor roommate didn’t sleep much either, unfortunately.) I had fits in my sleep and night terrors that would rival the scariest horror movie you’ve ever seen. I was constantly exhausted and riddled with stress, and the people around me had to endure it. I was consumed with myself and having control over everything. I sought comfort in making the world around me, and the people around me, fit into my very specific expectations. If anything was out of place in my apartment, I couldn’t handle it. If people didn’t respond to me like I expected them to, I came unglued. I blamed everyone around me for my problems. I was completely unaware of myself and unwilling to look too closely. I knew something was not right, but I didn’t want to face it. Instead, I carried on that way, trying to keep up a façade, and be someone I was not. I hated myself. I would lash out at someone I cared for, someone who was a good friend to me, then later when I was alone, cry my eyes out. I felt so overwhelmed with guilt. I felt guilt about things that were not even about me. That’s insane, right? Yes, it is. Instead of apologizing, I pushed those people further away, attempting to soothe my self-inflicted wounds by clinging to my pride and perceived control.
I was so consumed with myself and the image I portrayed to others that I didn’t recognize the root of the issues. Satan whispered terrible things to me constantly, about myself and the people around me who tried to encourage me. He tickled my pride, convincing me that I was right, and everyone else was wrong. It didn’t matter about what, just that I was right. I chose to believe those things instead of believing God when HE tells me who I am, and WHOSE I am.
Now, 5 years later…
I could not have dreamed up this life I now get to live on that day 5 years ago. In these 5 short years, God’s grace brought me more than I could have asked or imagined. A few months after I graduated, I started working as a ministry assistant at Ingleside Baptist Church in Macon, GA. I worked there for 2 years, and I will always think back on those years with fondness. The Lord used the people I met there and the work I got to do to help shape me into the person I am today. I learned so much about myself, the character of God, and the amazing grace we have in Christ. I met my husband Daniel at Ingleside.
November 2017 – I got to marry the best man in the world. He started school in August 2017, studying to be a PA at Emory University in Atlanta. After our wedding, I moved to Atlanta with him, where we still live now. We live in the heart of the city, and we get to serve at an amazing church – M28 Church. I work at the North American Mission Board, and Daniel works as a Physician Assistant at a local hospital.
If you described my current life to me 5 years ago, I would have laughed in your face. I greatly underestimated the peace and joy that comes from deeply trusting my Father and resting in His grace. Darkness and sin had a serious hold on me. I was convinced that I had to figure it all out, convinced that I knew better than anyone, including the God who created me. (Can I insert an eye-roll at myself here?)
Today, I am exactly where God wants me to be, and that feeling is indescribable. I am far from perfect, but I can rest in the salvation I have in Christ. I don’t often look back on that girl, walking around campus in 2014-15, stomach in knots, head full of doubts and fears, anger driving everything she did and said. It’s painful, and part of me wishes that part of my life was different. On the other hand, though, I’m thankful for the trials of this life. I certainly do not enjoy them, but God uses those seasons of life, those moments of darkness and pain, to shape me more into the image of my Savior. Friend, if you are in a valley season, lift your eyes to Heaven and praise God for it. Thank God for His sovereign grace.
I thank the Lord that His plans are infinitely better than mine.