Known and Loved

Like most college freshmen, I remember moving to Athens in the fall and not knowing what to expect. I was nervous, excited, and wondering where or with who I would fit in.The first couple of months of college were a daze. I felt as if I was constantly meeting people and making friends, but that the people I met only knew my hometown, my major, and what dorm I lived in. This quickly spiraled into deep feelings of loneliness, and about halfway through my first semester I realized that I had no idea who or where to turn to. I was seeking fulfillment that only being fully known and loved could give me. For a while, I sought  those communities in places that were furthest from what I knew God’s plan was from me. I did this because I was too scared to step into the community He was offering me. It’s funny, because the thing that I wanted the most during the loneliest part of my life was also the thing I was too intimidated by to pursue.

Over winter break the Lord allowed me to take a step back and have the opportunity to clearly hear his voice. During that time and into the second semester I began to pray the most powerful prayer in my life to this day - for the Lord to reveal more of his character to me.  The more I learned about His character, the more I was able to trust Him and trust His word. Because of this, when James 1:17 says “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change '' I was able to apply this verse to my freedom about pursuing Christ-centered community. I knew that because community is important to God (Matthew 18:20: “for when two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them) I was able to trust that the fears I had could be laid down and instead I could pick up a spirit of confidence and expectancy for what the rest of my freshmen year would hold.

Once you learn more to trust God’s character, you learn to not be scared of the things He is offering you, and are able to see them as gifts, not a burden. 

 I would encourage freshmen this year to lean into the fear and excitement that comes with stepping out into a new community. Knowing that with every step out of your comfort zone, God is right there next to you providing any and all of the courage and strength you are going to need throughout this year. He wants to be there in your loneliest moments, when you’re sitting in your dorm wondering if anyone really knows you. He wants to be there celebrating with you when you feel like you’re making steps in growing with your community. He wants the homesick you, the nervous you, and the confused you. Overall, the Lord just wants you and whatever burdens you may be carrying. You are fully known, seen, and loved by Him.

I could sit here and write about the regrets I have from last year for at least two more paragraphs. I could write about how I wish I had known I wasn’t alone, or about the importance of putting yourself in environments where you are pushed to grow. But what I want to end with this: my freshmen year has been the most fruitful year of my life so far, and I know it can be for the freshmen this year too.It is so clear looking back now why the Lord had me go through the things that I did. It has equipped me for the season of life I currently am in; and I am so grateful for the refining that last year brought, and the community I ended up being surrounded with that were there with me along the way.

Author | Bentley Clark

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