Hey friends, welcome back to the blog! It’s been a hot second since I posted here, but I’ve been learning a lot at Bible school and am excited to update you all now that I’m on break. I know this is long, but I hope you’ll bear with me!
Overall, It was a really great semester! I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity to study the Bible under such wise professors. Because I had taken dual-credit classes in high school, I was very much prepared for the workload of college, but there were some other things I wasn’t as prepared for. It’s definitely been a challenge to live with people on a small campus and have to see them day in and day out…there’s no such thing as sheltering in place and not showing your face after an embarrassing moment, haha. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about God, and about life in general (#adulting). I’d love to share some of the highlights with you (and some low-lights, because let’s be real, those existed too), so here we go!
1. My favorite class
My favorite class ended up being the one with the most reading, go figure. But it was all so good because it was reading straight out of the Bible! It was called Old Testament Literature and was basically just an overview of the whole Old Testament–we had to read each book for ourselves and then the professor gave us the highlights, connected themes, and all that fun jazz. Even though I’d read through the Old Testament in its entirety several times already, I definitely learned a lot and was reminded of how complimentary the Old and New Testaments are. It was definitely a big-picture overview, but I also learned some smaller details, like how Ruth is the only book in the OT to end with a personal name (that being the name of David). We also had to write papers on each of the four sections (the Pentateuch/Law, historical books, poetry and wisdom literature, and the prophets) and then combine them for our final paper. That was super insightful as well! I chose “How the OT Points to Jesus” as my topic and it really highlighted just how many references there are to the Messiah and how strongly the OT preaches the gospel.
2. The hardest part of classes
As a homeschooler, I wasn’t used to having such a strict schedule and having to get up / go to bed on time. I also couldn’t just show up to class in my pajamas like I normally would, haha. So while it wasn’t necessarily *hard,* it did take discipline to get up every morning and still get enough sleep. I definitely took a lot of naps too. Knowing my boundaries for how late to stay up was challenging…sometimes I really did want to hang out with people but I knew I’d pay for it the next day. There were a handful of times I threw discipline to the wind, but for the most part I went to bed between 10:00 and 11:00.
3. My personal time with God
I’ll be completely honest and say I did *not* have a regular time with God this past semester. It was honestly really hard to be intentional about it, especially since I had to read so much of the Bible for class. I started rationalizing that I was studying theology, so therefore I must be close to God. But that is so far from the truth, because we can know facts upon facts about God, and still not know the person of God Himself. I always remember from Spanish class that there is a difference between the verbs saber and conocer–one is to know facts while the other is to be familiar with a person or place, etc. There was a time or two I had to play the song “You Won’t Relent” by Jesus Culture just to hear the bridge:
I don’t want to talk about You like You’re not in the roomJesus Culture
I want to look right at You, I want to sing right to You
Moving forward into next semester, that is definitely something I want to get better at. However, thanks to my pen pal I did intentionally pray more. We started exchanging prayer requests and praise reports (that we call God Winks) every evening before we sign off for the night. It was helpful to have that reminder at the end of the day that “hey, prayer is important. This is what God showed me today. This is what I’m struggling with and need to talk to Him about, etc.”
4. How I felt about the church transition
Because the school has a different denominational background than my home church, it was kind of a culture shock the first few weeks and took some getting used to. I honestly kept up my guard and tested a lot of things that were thrown at me because it just felt so foreign and uncomfortable. I didn’t know how to take certain things, and I remember feeling very confused because 1) I didn’t want to put God in a box, but 2) I didn’t want to be impressionable and conform to the school’s culture if that wasn’t what God wanted.
In the end, I came to the conclusion that my relationship with God is unique and it doesn’t have to look the same as someone else’s. Just because I don’t do this or that doesn’t mean I’m not a genuine Christian. I decided to keep my eyes on God and bring everything back to the Bible, which I was very pleased to see the school teaching and reinforcing. Even though they have a different approach than my church, they still have the same basic values and foundation on the Bible. I’ve learned to see it as two sides of the same coin, and neither is right or wrong.
Interesting story: my first week back for Christmas break, I noticed how different the worship style was and how accustomed I’d grown to the school’s style. I was actually kind of thinking in the back of my mind that “this is weird” and I wasn’t sure I liked it anymore. But my pastor later mentioned during his sermon that it shouldn’t matter what style of music we worship with–as long as we’re worshipping and have our hearts on God. If we ever find ourselves unable to engage in worship, it’s an “us” problem, not a church or music problem. That was convicting for me and I realized how much I had been thinking about style when I should have been thinking about God.
5. My lowest moments
Even being so close to home (only a 20 minute drive) and seeing my parents quite often, I felt homesick on several occasions and found myself counting down to the next break or a weekend I could go home. The longest stint I managed on campus was one month, which is the longest I have ever been away. It was hard. Towards the end of that month, there was one night my parents took me out to dinner, and I lost it: I cried during the entire meal, the entire ride back, and the entire rest of the night. There was another weekend, right before finals, that I had a really refreshing conversation with my parents. My mom and I sat in the parking lot right up until curfew discussing certain things, and I also cried a lot then.
Living on campus as an introvert with social anxiety is not easy–especially if you’re going to stay true to your “radical” personal convictions. I’ve begun to realize that being a Christian is not easy anywhere, even at Bible school. The enemy will find us wherever we’re at and try to offer us lies. That’s a guarantee. But it’s also a guarantee that God sees us wherever we go, and every time we make a choice to honor Him it brings a smile to His face. We have to be rooted in the truth, and we have to have a support system. My family and close friends will always mean more to me than they will ever know.
6. The big picture of what God taught me
Honestly, I learned so much this semester and could probably write a whole second post about it all, but I’ll try to share the big picture with you. God really emphasized the importance of focusing on the task at hand, one day at a time, and never taking anything for granted. I really believe in doing everything with a spirit of excellence, so if I was cleaning the bathrooms, I did my best to focus on cleaning the bathrooms. If I was writing a paper, I did my best to focus on that paper and turn in something I could be proud of. If I was asked to show up to church two hours early for my student ministry, I made sure I got plenty of sleep and arrived on time. I wanted to be faithful in that which was least, because I knew that was the only way God would entrust me with much.
I really learned the value of being intentional and thanking God for everything. Every single experience contributes to my character, and every single task has the potential to equip me for future ministry. It reminds me of the saying:
How you do anything is how you’ll do everything.Unknown
I made it my goal to try at least one “new” or unusual thing a day: maybe I went out with a group of friends, or visited the library, or sat with someone different at lunch. Sometimes it was as big as speaking in chapel, sometimes it was as small as buying a chai tea at the cafe. I was constantly being pushed out of my comfort zone, but I made it my goal to not let anxiety win. We live life to the full by taking it one day at a time, one moment at a time, keeping our eyes on Jesus all the way.
7. Some other random things that happened!
- I was elected Secretary of the Freshmen Class
after deciding nobody knew my name XD
- I spoke for a few minutes during one of the spirit-led chapels (with a microphone…that was nerve-wracking), and prayed out loud during another one
- I really, really enjoyed surprising people with my age lol (not to brag because I’m young, but just because it was funny to see people’s reactions when they found out I was still a “baby” XD)
- Which, speaking of, I got called “baby” at least 4 or 5 times by different people, which I found really hilarious
- I was asked to help with cameras (because my student ministry was with the church’s tech team) for a random couple’s wedding…the second wedding I’ve ever been to and remembered lol
- My roommate got me a mug that says “best roommate ever” so I must have done something right XD
- Through all of the comments that professors left on my papers, it was really just confirmed in my heart (again) that writing is what I’m called to do. Sometimes I doubt myself and question God’s call on my life, but He’s so faithful to remind me that He alone is the One who equips me. I never want to get to the point that I rely on my own skills or intellect, but a word of encouragement here and there does the heart a lot of good ❤ I’m also feeling more and more called to full-time ministry, so I’m excited to see where God leads me in the semesters and years to come.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my first semester, and maybe learned a thing or two! Please don’t hesitate to comment down below with questions, comments, or a story from your own first semester of college. I’d love to hear them!
Until next time: