Junior year of college is over.
My emotions over the year captivate the thought of change.
At the beginning of my Resident Shepherd ministry training in August, I was shaken to focus on my identity as a daughter in Jesus above any other role I am given as an ambassador for Him. My mission was and is to abide in Christ and overflow from my time with Him in rest.
Over the fall months, my Sabbaths were taken and soaked in. I enjoyed my grocery store runs, Saturdays cleaning, and the many loads of laundry my laundry room saw. I shared many conversations with sweet girls and friends around tables that held coffee.
Jesus used my brother dorm friends to expose lies I was believing. They helped me learn how to embrace my neediness and extend the invitation of help to others around me. I was so familiar with being self-sufficient and the one caring for others that I had to learn how to receive love and help from others who cared for me.
My building of girls and our brother dorm guys went on the famous Cole Mountain hike here in Virginia. That was one of my favorite days. The wind against us and the lack of air in our lungs really crafted a memorable experience. Some girls got car sick. The car I was in barely made it up the trek. I was one of the last ones to make it up the mountain due to my travel squad getting some directions wrong, but that did not hinder my heart from exploding with inexpressible joy! There is something so unique and breath taking about being in the very center of huge mountains handcrafted by the same One who detailed me and you. I flaunted my little camera around proudly taking the pictures of peers enjoying the nature we were in.
My friend Mia moved to the Hill dorm on campus. We faced a new season and learned that it was not meant to represent the experience we had last year. Jesus had us in a new season to learn, enjoy, and conquer new things. We had our first moment of healthy conflict truly seeing one another’s hearts and learning how to better love one another. Although we felt the weight of the initial conversation, we both agree our friendship was deepened and strengthened by being vulnerable with one another. Mia and I genuinely shared real life together again this year. We ate many meals together-including many of our favorite smoothie bowls! Mia is the best at surprises and pulled me into learning her ways in celebrating others through surprises. Her roommates Claire and Micah Joy became such gifts to my life as well.
My leadership team stretched me in more ways than I could ever recount. I learned that other people can love and hurt in the same period of time. I learned that I cannot place God expectations on people who are equally flawed as I am. No one other than my Creator can satisfy this heart that is so hungry for Him. I had little picnics for Bible studies with my girls. We went and ate Mexican food. We had walks around campus to get coffee. We talked about the guys in their lives. I saw them pray in front of others for the first time. My girls dug deep into the presence of God and His Word preparing to share messages of Hope with the girls in their community groups.
My Shepherd Mrs. Angie and Senior Resident Shepherd Mary Paul brought such rich encouragement and peace to my life. They were available in the midst of turbulent parts of ministry. They visited my little dorm home and felt like family. They exhibited hospitality and planned the sweetest and most intentional parties. They called me higher than my flesh and always inspired me to keep praying for and preserving unity amongst those I was struggling to maintain it with.
My classes held many group projects. I learned how to lead nonprofit organizations, worked with a local pregnancy clinic, wrote a new devotional book, completed the hardest undergrad theology class, and learned how to better program services for ministry. Many hours were spent typing on these keys. Only Jesus knows how many words and papers have been written this year. I treasure the friendships I made with classmates and the memories I was able to make with my fellow world changers.
My favorite campus community was whenever Louie Giglio was here. Jesus spoke to my heart to trust Him to do new things. He is involved in the details of our lives today. We can acknowledge the new things He is doing in the midst of still appreciating the miracles He has already performed. I witnessed a new miracle in my life the day after this special campus community. It is amazing to witness God’s vision and our faith along with surrender collide.
Liberty’s Office of Spiritual Development hosted a college girls’ conference I was able to help with and attend. One of my spiritual mentors said something that marked my heart. God removes people from our lives always making room for new people He has to enter into our stories. I was struggling to let go of certain friendships moving into new parts of this school year. I knew times were changing and spaces were opening up for new people, but the clearing out of certain spots was really hard.
I walked through some grief as a peer from last year and a childhood teacher passed away. Jesus used the story of Lazarus in His Word to remind me that weeping is welcomed even when hope is embraced. We can trust in Him and still cry over the pain we feel in the here and now. We can mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice.
Whenever starting this year, I was given the mission of looking more like Jesus. I have honestly struggled to embrace rest the past few months. My class loads and work on future job opportunities has almost famished me. The Lord has definitely been my Strength. He is my Sustainer and has held me. Although my time with Him has been so unique and often spent in little hideaway moments overlooking mountains in my car, I know I have been refined. I know a little better the pain He feels whenever His love is not received. I better know how He felt whenever He was in one moment praised and the next moment slandered and hated. I have stepped into walking in and giving true love which is not dependent upon people’s behavior or circumstances.
As this chapter of my life has ended, I acknowledge the growth and joy that has come even in moments of deep pain. I continuously crown Jesus as my King. He is my everything and is establishing my every step.
My heart has gone into a deeper layer of surrender and contentment.
I pray these words bless your soul and remind you that Jesus is your truest Home.
A heart that has longed to be embraced has found its safest place.
A heart that has hurt has been held.
A heart that has grasped for things out of its reach has been met with Jesus’ most precious peace.
Jesus’ way was always a better path than the ones I schemed.
How little my own workmanship of writings now seem.
There was a reason my crafts fell through. I was being led to the heart of You.