Dear Student Me: A Thirty-Something’s View on College

The last two months have been a blur with the wedding, honeymoon, speaking event, and travel. In addition, I also started a summer college class for my teaching re-certification, because that’s just how the timing worked out. But when is life not busy?

However, I’m making the best of the course about technology in education, which is actually quite interesting. Besides, having a student ID again has its perks. Who knew I’d be claiming student discounts at thirty-something?

In all seriousness, though, this going-back-to-school experience has shed a new perspective on college that, if I could, I’d share with my teen- and twenty-something self. Maybe you’re in college or know someone who is. If so, I hope these thoughts will be encouraging to you.

Be less of a perfectionist.

Hands down, I struggled with perfectionism in college. I remember crying on the sidewalk outside my history class because I scored an 88 on a test. I did all the bonus essays in speech class to get my grade to an A. I even volunteered to do most of the work in group projects because I didn’t trust the other members to do the work right. (They were usually very happy about this arrangement.)

While I’m proud to have graduated Summa Cum Laude, I wish I could have told my younger self to be less hard on myself. I still strongly believe in the importance of doing my best work, because the Bible says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10, NKJV)

However, no where does the Bible praise perfectionism. When I spoke with the ladies of Connersville Baptist Temple in May, we looked at Martha as an example of someone whose well-meaning expectations almost stole from her something far better. She wanted to be the perfect hostess, but that’s not what Jesus cared about. He cared about her heart. Listening to what He had to say was more important.

“… Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

Maybe we perfectionists mean well, but we miss the mark and often life’s greater blessings.

Dear student me, do your best but don’t obsess.

Prioritize better.

Even though I had a campus job and full load in college, those responsibilities hardly compare with the ones I have today. As a newly-wed student working a full-time job, I definitely have more on my plate now than I did back then. The beauty of this reality is that homework can’t get first place, and as a result, I have to prioritize better.

In college, students are discovering freedoms for perhaps the first time away from Mom and Dad. The perfectionist in me, as we already discussed, didn’t take advantage of free time like some students might, but I was perhaps just as guilty of misplaced priorities.

The Bible places a high value on how we use our time, because no one is promised tomorrow. Regardless if we live out the length of our days or find life cut short, we need to be good stewards of the time given to us.

Although there are many relevant verses on this subject, I’d like to focus on I Peter 4:7-10 today, because it provides some guidance for how we’re supposed to spend our time. I encourage you to read these verses on your own and then consider these takeaways:

  1. Pray seriously.
  2. Love fervently.
  3. Give generously.
  4. Serve specifically.

These points could be a post in themselves, but for now, let’s focus on that last one, which was a real stumbling block to me until I learned that I didn’t have to do everything to serve Jesus. Instead, we should prayerfully consider the unique gifts God has given us and His will for us in whatever season we’re in before we sign up for the next service (or class) project. For young people, time seems abundant, but that’s no reason to spend it foolishly.

Dear student me, prayerfully consider how you use your time.

Switch up your setting.

In college, I was guilty of retreating to the desk in my dorm room and hobbitting there for hours on end. There was no interaction with other people. I enjoyed the blissful quiet (because my roommates were extroverts or actually had social lives). My goal was efficiency, and I knew myself well enough to understand that I did my best work in quiet spaces.

However, I wish I had relocated my laptop to the cafe or even spent more time in the library instead of hauling the books back to my dorm room. A change of setting can be equally refreshing, and honestly, being with people wouldn’t have hurt my social life.

God never intended for us to do life solo. A very important point here is that I’m not talking about singleness or marriage. God’s will for people in this area is a completely different topic. What I mean by solo is to live in isolation of other people. After all, how can a person who’s isolating herself carry out any of these biblical commands?

  • “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)
  • “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
  • “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

These verses just scratch the surface and hold more life application than one post can discuss, but I hope you see the point that we’re meant to do life with people.

Today while I tackle homework, I try to be more intentional about unplugging my laptop and camping out on the couch next to my husband. We might both be working on our laptops, but we’re doing so together.

Dear student me, don’t be a hobbit.

Wherever you are in life, whether college or otherwise, may these thoughts encourage you to be your best self in your season and steward your opportunities and time well.

Kristen

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Skiing Life Lesson: Enjoy Going Downhill

Well, friends, I wish I could say my second time skiing began flawlessly, but it actually started with me falling as soon as I left the lift chair. The good news is that after half a day of practice, skiing started to click.

I transitioned from mental pep-talk that involved telling myself not to die to actually breathing and whispering, “Enjoy it.”

Yes, I’m all about self pep-talks, and I’ve discovered something: When we focus on enjoyment instead of failure, we relish the experience more. In other words, when we focus on fear, it steals our joy. When we focus on simply enjoying the moment, we do just that.

True, I did fall one other time when I was more relaxed, but for the most part, I anticipated reaching the top of the slope and starting the downhill descent. I looked forward to the challenge of practicing and improving my technique.

Skiing Parallels to Life

Isn’t that like life? I know for myself right now, I have two choices with wedding planning. I can get all tense and stressed, or I can take deep breaths and simply enjoy this special time of transition and preparation. I can focus on the unknown or all the expectations with anxiety, or I can gently take each moment as it comes and gradually enjoy the journey.

Now that sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes, the choice to let go and relax isn’t easy when my to-do list grows instead of shrinks. However, instead of anticipating problems, I can anticipate joy and focus on the blessings of today. That won’t mean problems will never come, but it does mean I’ll enjoy the process much more.

The Bible clearly speaks to where our focus should be and identifies two places: the present and the eternal.

In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount that we are to lay up treasures in heaven (eternal) and not on earth (temporary). We are also not to worry about tomorrow (the future) but live in the present (today).  When we do, we not only spare ourselves unnecessary worry but also live in obedience to the One who has a perfect plan for our lives.

Back on the slopes of Beech Mountain, I wanted to enjoy each moment of the ski run. Now, I want to live abundantly in the moment and make an eternal impact with my everyday decisions. What about you?

~ Kristen

Congratulations to our Bible Study winner, Faith! Please email me through my website this week with your mailing address so I can share this gift of God’s Word with you. May we all relish our time in the Bible more this year. Thank you to all who participated!

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Dare to Know God’s Word

Gutenberg Bible, Library of Congress

Know that God’s Word has to be front and center. We have to be thinking about it, be able to quote it. Refuse to let fear and discouragement hold us back; for wherever we go, God will be with us.- Lysa TerKeurst.

Last week, I introduced you to TerKeurst’s book, The Best Yes, which challenged me in the area of priorities. My running friend gave me a daily calendar based on the book to help me focus daily on some key principles.

The above quote reminded me that I not only need to train physically for this half marathon, but I also need to prepare mentally for the spiritual endurance life demands. Together, we’ve challenged ourselves to memorize the book of Ephesians during the training weeks ahead.

As a teen, I committed books of the Bible to memory through the Christian Alliance Church’s Bible quiz team. Those years memorizing God’s Word built a foundation of Scripture and truth in my life that have seen me through some tough times. Recently, though, I haven’t been intentional about memorizing God’s Word, and I want to change that.

Why should we know God’s Word by heart? Psalm 119 reveals Scripture’s priceless value and offers several truths that show why we need the “living and powerful” Word (Hebrews 4:12) to be active in our lives.

God’s Word …

  1. Cleanses (Psalm 119:9). If we stray from a path or lifestyle that’s pleasing to God, we can immerse ourselves in the cleansing power of Scripture.
  2. Guards (Psalm 119:11). There’s a sign in my chiropractor’s office that says, “Prevention: the best cure for disease.” We hide God’s Word in our hearts so we won’t go places and do things that contradict God’s will.
  3. Revives (Psalm 119:25). Have you ever felt worn out with life’s trials? God’s Word provides a source of comfort and refreshment like nothing else can offer.
  4. Strengthens (Psalm 119:28). We can’t build physical endurance if we don’t exercise, nor can we grow our spiritual “muscles” if we don’t spend time in God’s instruction book.
  5. Prepares (Psalm 119:42). We can’t know what challenges, conflict, and criticism we’re going to face from people. God’s Word equips us to answer beyond our own wisdom. It won’t return to us void (Isaiah 55:11).
  6. Gives life (Psalm 119:50). The Gospel of John describes Jesus as the Word who “became flesh” (John 1:14). He came, lived, and died so that we can enjoy eternal life. Maybe the here and now presents problems that threaten to overwhelm us, but we can rest in the assurance of our eternal life, if we know Jesus as our Savior.
  7. Offers hope. (Psalm 119:76, 81). The Bible is full of “precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4) that we can pray. God’s mercy today is just as deep and wide as it was thousands of years ago, and the Word provides us with hope for tomorrow.

We’re privileged to live in a time where the Bible is more readily accessible than ever before. With a few keystrokes, we can look it up online, download it on our portable devices, and even have Scripture texted directly to our phones throughout the day (with apps like GoTandem).

Yet its availability sometimes gives us a complacency regarding its worth.

Are you spending as much time in God’s Word as you’d like? If not, what’s holding you back? Romans 12:2 says:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (NKJV).

The only way we can renew our minds and discern God’s will is to know God’s Word. 

Will you join me? You don’t even have to start with a whole book. Choose a chapter or a few verses. I encourage you to comment with your favorite passage that you’d like to know by heart.

~ Kristen

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