I have come to the conclusion that as soon as you pass your junior year of college, there is some kind of signal that goes off in all adult ears, like a silent dog whistle.
When they hear that signal, as soon as they see you, they immediately demand to know where your life is heading and check to make sure you are not going to waste the monstrous amount of money your parents paid for school.
“What are your plans after graduation?” “Do you have any jobs lined up?” “What are you going to do with the rest of your life?”
OK, so clearly I am just having a little fun, but this is really what it feels like. These are major questions that all upperclassmen in college are asked almost on a daily basis by anyone and everyone.
You feel like your heart is split right down the middle with two major desires. One half of you wants to enjoy your last year being an undergraduate student, making the most of each day and really cherishing each moment. Meanwhile, the other half knows you have to begin planning or be lost by the time you graduate.
If you are a worrier like me, your whole being begins to feel the weight of life on your shoulders. Everything becomes a stressor — homework, friends, sport and any activity you do.
I began to feel this way last summer when I realized I actually needed to make a decision about what I wanted my life to look like after school. Even though I knew that God had placed on my heart to intern with Athletes in Action (AIA) for a year, I continued to push that out of my mind.
I made up every excuse in the book while claiming, “I just need to pray about it.” I was really running away from what I knew God had for me. Instead, I filled my mind with random weekend dreams that were my passion one day and gone the next. I came up with excuses as to why I could not see myself in this ministry, matched with fear of the future.
That is when God began to strip away everything in my life keeping me from following His plan, starting with pride and relationships. Yet I still resisted. My words may have said, “His will,” but my heart was saying, “My will.”
When I came to school, a chill ran down my spine as every single staff member, professor, coach and peer asked, “Are you excited about graduating?” Everyone completely understood my fear, except for one person.
Aaron Kingcade, a football graduate assistant at Otterbein University and the student who established AIA at Otterbein, spoke serious truth to me after I gave him the usual response of worry and fear.
“Why are you upset about graduating?” Aaron said. “That is what people who aren’t believers do. They don’t have anything to look forward to. But God promises an abundant life for those who follow Him, so whether you are in school or out, as long as you are following Him, you will have an exciting life.”
“Wow” was all I could say as a smile crept over my face.
I had never thought of my life this way before. I was so blinded by the fear allowed to come in that I could not see the truth right in God’s Word. I have spent so much time acting like I do not know God by living in the midst of those worries even though Jesus broke me free from them on the cross.
I was forgetting that I am called not to conform to the pattern of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2, NIV). I need to remind myself daily that I have no reason to fear for my future. I need to enjoy the moment I am in and continue to press toward what God has for me.
Since I have surrendered my future to God, freedom is constantly on my heart. I have enjoyed every day of my senior year and grown in my faith through this time, continuing to learn to trust God with all of my heart.
Now, your story may be different than mine. Maybe God is not calling you into ministry but into a job you are unsure about or back into school, or maybe He will not show you until a few months after you graduate.
No matter your situation, ask Jesus to take away the pressure of this world and replace it with trust in Him. He loved you so much that He gave His life for you. He promised you an abundant life — a life of hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11), a life that finishes the work He began in you (Philippians 1:6) — and He will be with you every step of the way (Joshua 1:9).
Trust Christ and live out that abundance now. Stay in constant prayer and read Scripture. I promise you this process will provide peace in your heart and purpose for your mind as it brings you closer to God.
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