Graduation season is in full swing, & there is much rejoicing & celebration, as there should be.
We did it!
In 4 years, in 5 years, in 7 years… it doesn’t matter at this point. The journey is complete. We made it through all of the late night study sessions, Starbucks runs, stupid relationships, group projects, snow storms, sleepless nights, tough teachers, thesis papers, & more. It was all worth it.
As this season comes to an end and my life is about to begin a new chapter, I have been reflecting on my last four years in college.
There have been so many moments of joy, laughter, hope, & healing, but there have also been some moments that haven’t been so easy.
With so much joy and celebration there also comes grief.
It’s okay to feel both. It’s okay to celebrate the good and grieve the bad. It’s okay to feel happy & sad & hopeful & fearful & frustrated & excited all at the same time.
There is no pressure to feel any certain way. When we allow ourselves to feel the good and the bad, we are able to enter into a place of vulnerability and healing.
We learn from our mistakes.
We let go of our regrets.
We forgive those who have hurt us.
We let go of the things that we cannot change.
We release control.
We trust God with our future, & the future of our loved ones.
We allow God to touch the broken, hardened, and scared places in our lives.
We ask him to grow us and mature us, & to not let him forget the lessons we have learned during our undergraduate degree.
In these past 4 years, I have grown to a level of intimacy with the Lord in a way I never have before.
I have connected with the things I am passionate about, & I feel the calling of the Lord on my life as I follow the path to become a registered dietitian.
I get to marry my fiancé in just a few short weeks.
I have built friendships with sweet sisters who pray for me, keep me accountable, encourage me, and teach me.
I have gotten the opportunity to connect & reconnect with so many new and old friends.
My best friend met Jesus & now lives a transformed life.
The list really does go on.
As much as it hurts to admit, college hasn’t been the “best time of my life.” It’s been imperfect, messy, & pretty terrible at times if I am being honest. Although I don’t want to leave behind my friends or the lessons I have learned, I am ready for a different, new season.
When I first came to college I cried a lot.
I missed my sister & my parents, & I didn’t know how to process all of the change.
It was very difficult for me to make friends at first. I didn’t party and I didn’t join a sorority. My dorm was extremely closed off.
I spent a lot of time alone.
I couldn’t connect with other girls in my ministry, even though I desperately wanted those relationships.
I lost my grandmother to cancer.
My anxiety & depression peaked.
I developed an eating disorder.
I avoided social interactions with friends to avoid food that I didn’t want to eat.
I became very isolated.
My body became weak.
My soul become weary.
In my college career I have made many mistakes & have some regrets, but I think everyone does. I think it’s okay to enter into a new season with mixed emotions. It’s healthy to step back & process & figure out what is really going on in our hearts and minds.
So today, I grieve the loss of the things I wish I did differently, the time that my eating disorder took away from me, and the time I spent worrying about things that I was never meant to control. I grieve the loss of my nana and the pain it has brought to my family. I grieve the idea of my childhood coming to an end, and not waking up with my sister on Christmas morning. I grieve the countless number of girls that I have met who struggle with mental illnesses and/or an eating disorder. I grieve the relationships that have left some of my friends heart broken and hardened. I grieve the brokenness I have encountered and the souls that are yearning for satisfaction that cannot be found in a drugs, sex, or alcohol. I grieve the loss of the friendships that are soon going to become long distance, & the community that has surrounded me with love.
Jesus doesn’t allow my heart to settle in the grief. He guides me to his healing presence & his closeness that no one else can give me. He reminds me of the hope that I have, & that I can freely give to other people. He allows beauty to be born from pain.
I praise Jesus for drawing me close to him. I thank him for the friends he has connected me with. I rejoice in the healing that my body, mind, and spirit have experienced in the last 4 years. I cling to his promises and unwavering hope in this season of change. I learn from my mistakes, and strive to be more like Jesus each day. I embrace this new season with my family, and the ways that things will look different. I hold on to my family time a little tighter & remember to appreciate the little things. I begin to plan road trips to visit my sweet friends. I am reminded to be intentional with my time, & try to give it away to other people. I am more present in the moment rather than looking ahead to the next hour/day/week/month/year. I fix my eyes not on my circumstances, but on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of my faith. I celebrate the 20+ family members that I am going to gain when I get married. I praise God for the friendships I have formed and the sisters I have gained. I anticipate the covenant that I get to for with God & my fiancé on the wedding day. I embrace the long-distance friendships & know that it’s never really goodbye, but always “see you later!” I cherish the trials that have brought my family closer. I believe that God will continue to finish the good work that he has started within me. I trust that God will surround me with a community of believers who love Him. I celebrate all that I have gained through walking with him, from a deeper sense of compassion to a renewed sense of peace.
I grieve the bad because it makes me more grateful when I experience the good. I grieve the loss that comes with graduation, but I rejoice in the gain, provision, and life that Jesus has (and will continue to) pour out into every area of my life. I celebrate the victory that only comes through the cross.
He promises that he will, & Jesus doesn’t break his promises or change with new seasons. Grieve the loss. Rejoice in the gain.