noun, often attributive
“A part of an American university that offers courses in a specified subject” (Merriam Webster).
College defined by a college student:
Emotion, often pain
- A place where mom and dad send their children after having completed 13 years of schooling prior.
- A practice run of adult-hood.
- Repeated incidents of pulling hair out, mental breakdowns, and stress eating.
- Excessive consumption of Ramen noodles and ice cream.
- Weight gain.
- Weight loss.
- Acne, lots and lots of acne.
- Stress, more than anyone can comprehend.
- Taxes, what are those?
- Copious amounts of phone calls to mom.
- Adding every person that is met at college on Facebook, even if only encountered once.
- Taking advantage of anything and everything free. Already have one? Take another!
- All nighters.
- Skipping class to complete homework for another class: logic.
The list honestly goes on and on.
College for me this year has been one of the most challenging and life-changing things I have ever encountered in my life. The photo above, “Put your hair in a bun, drink some coffee, and handle it” seems to be my entire year at college this year. Except it was and is a lot less simple than that. It’s been my hair in the messiest of buns from not showering, copious amounts of coffee due to no sleep, and not handling anything by any means. College is hard. Not just because of the classes, granted those can be extremely hard, but college is hard because everything is new.
Fall semester, I was all excited to go to college. It meant freedom from my parents’ rules and numerous opportunities to meet new people that could be life-long friends. But college was far from what I anticipated upon arrival. Yes I had taken a year of online college prior to coming to college, but that only prepared me academically, not in the ways I would soon find out I needed.
I arrived at college with way too many belongings to place in my tiny shared dorm room. I didn’t have a fan the first few weeks of college, making a constant layer of sweat my attire. Sharing a room for the first time in my life was a change that wasn’t suiting me, eventually leading to moving rooms. There were far too many events to participate in, so I participated in none. I didn’t go out and meet people during the first few weeks of college, I only talked to the ones in my classes, which was minimal. I chose classes I thought I’d be interested in and professors I thought would be good, only to end up with classes I hated and professors that made me want to complain to the school board or drop out of college or both.
I found myself with too much free time, minimal friends, an easy course load and opportunities that I continually passed up. I started college with no vehicle but eventually brought it up. There was no point really, I only used it to drive around and then complained about finding parking on the streets since I didn’t buy a parking pass.
I had a mundane schedule. I did my homework, worked out, went to class, did swing dancing, hung out with some people from time to time and went to Cru. Yet I was still not feeling college and I had no idea what I even wanted to do with my life. I contemplated dropping out because college just didn’t seem like the fit for me. But I met with a staff leader and student in Cru one afternoon and sat at a picnic table in a courtyard on campus. They went through a pamphlet called Knowing God Personally or KGP. Now, I had surrendered my life to Christ a long time ago, and was confirmed in the church in the spring of the eighth grade, but I didn’t truly know that sacrifice that was made in order for me to live. There’s a saying that goes along the lines of, live every day like someone died for you. Someone did! JESUS! We tend to hear this all the time throughout our lives that it just becomes something said and response of “mmhmm that’s truly great isn’t it?” But are we really taking to heart the sacrifice that was made for us?! I know that I wasn’t, not until I was walked through the KGP.
To be truthfully honest, I was mad. I was mad that I had finally heard the truth because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to unhear it. I had an idea as to how college could and should be for me and I didn’t want that idea to be “ruined” because Jesus had a different plan for me. So I spent days, weeks, trying to figure out what was in store for me. What I was supposed to be doing in my walk with the Lord. It was a constant struggle, but God was there with me every step of the way.
I went through the semester letting God lead me, but I kept drifting away and God kept bringing me back. I went to a fall retreat through Cru and met more people and rekindled past friendships, was called to do Summer Mission, but after every spiritual high comes a spiritual fall. I went back to planning out the rest of the semester how I wanted, ignoring the fact that, that wasn’t what God wanted for me. I had the next two years of my life planned out; financially, classes for each semester until I graduated college, when I would sell my car and upgrade, where I would work in the summer, and more. I had it all planned out. The weekend before finals I went home to work for one of my jobs, babysit, and then study for finals since they were at the end of the following week. I was financially tight and working and babysitting helped me to pay for an O2 sensor that went out in my car along with a belated graduation gift. That was the first weekend since the retreat that I even realized God was still working in my life.
There was a snow storm rolling through the day I was intending to go back to college. My parents recommended that I go up earlier so that I wouldn’t get stuck at home since I had finals to take. The day before I drove back up to college I had the O2 sensor fixed in hopes my car would last until the end of August so that I could sell it. It was all part of my plan. On the day that I went back up to college, I took my time, drove the speed limit, enjoyed everything about the drive. It was a beautiful day and I was so happy to be able to enjoy it while driving. After a two and a half hour drive, I was approximately three minutes from the college campus when a lady in front of me slammed on her brakes during rush hour traffic and I didn’t have enough reaction time to stop in time. I rear-ended her, causing my car to be stuck in a double lane, rush hour road approximately 100 yds from the intersection.
I had never felt so helpless in my entire life.
My car was stuck on the road, my horn wouldn’t work, the woman I hit drove off, and no one was stopping to help.
If any single person saw me in those moments, let alone heard me, their first thought would not be “Christian” it would be a jaw dropping “Oh my goodness” response for the vile things that flew out of my mouth. I was so irate that I said more harmful things than I’ve said in my entire life, in a matter of minutes.
So not only was my car stuck on the road, but the woman I hit had driven off, people kept almost hitting my car and no one was stopping. At this point in time I was on the phone with my parents terrified, crying, and enraged at the situation and they had reported the accident to the cops and while we were talking a person almost rear-ended me but slammed on their breaks barely a foot away from me and all I could see in my rear-view window was the vehicle. By now my parents were yelling at me to get out of the vehicle, for good reason, and so I tried. I couldn’t get out of my driver side door due to the frame of the car crumpling just enough the the door was stuck, so I had to exit through the passenger side door, across the other lane and onto the sidewalk.
Eventually a friend and Cru intern Cody saw me and pulled into a nearby parking lot and came up to me, as I was filling him in on what had happened, a woman came up to me who ended up being the woman I hit. With this Cody went to stand behind my vehicle to direct people around my car and I had the woman go and call the cops since they weren’t there yet. Within a matter of minutes, out of nowhere, a guy in a suburban flew into the back end of my car and shot it flying into the turning lane 50-60 yards. I screamed as if I had witnessed someone being killed, my heart dropped to the ground, I fell to my knees on the cement and buried my face in the snow. I literally had lost everything.
My parents were on the phone with me the whole time asking what happened, if everyone was okay and that’s when I realized that Cody was standing behind my car. I looked up and somehow, by the grace of God, Cody had jumped out of the way just in time and wore the face of a man who had watched his entire life flash before his eyes…
Not even a minute later the officers, a fire truck, and a tow truck arrived. It was the middle of December, cold, and I was not dressed accordingly. I was deranged, crying uncontrollably, shaking from adrenaline and the cold, and completely devastated from the events that had just taken place. And here, after everything was taken care of with insurance and the police during an already stressful finals week, the woman that I hit was driving on a suspended license, and the guy that flew into the back end of my car was looking down at his cellphone.
December 15th, approximately 3:30pm CST, I lost approximately five-thousand dollars, several pounds in tears, and all the sanity I had left. However, I gained so much more. I realized just how many people were there for me afterwords, I realized that I had been placing my identity in what I owned (my car especially) and realized that there was so much more than earthly possessions. The officer told me that if I was still in the vehicle during the second accident, that I would be dead. To be alive is the greatest gift we can receive. Losing a vehicle is nothing compared to a life. I may suffer from a bad neck, back and hip problems now, but I am alive and well. God has given me the strength to go through each and every day. PTSD is a thing from car accidents and I still wrestle with that every time I am in a vehicle, but I am getting there and God prevails.
If the car accident didn’t happen, I would not be here, right now, typing this blog post on a 10 week mission trip in Seaside Park, New Jersey. God used the car accident to bring me back to Him. He used it to show me that I needed to leave my life of sin and enter the life of forgiveness once more. He brought healing and health along with friends and family, bringing forth a spring semester of college that held even more change and growth.
Each and every time that I stray away from God, He has something in store for me to bring me right back to Him. Especially this semester.
So back to the hair pulling and excessive coffee, this past year and semester changed me, broke me down, built me up and showed me what life is supposed to be with the Lord. It’s supposed to be a life where we carry our cross daily and surrender our sins our life each and every single day to Him. And without that, our lives of sin consume and control us, continually driving us further and further away from Him. But by surrendering my struggles to Him, I am able to be here in New Jersey with 31 other amazing college students and numerous staff to share the Glory of God with the people of this town and New York. I am able to place my worth in Him and appreciate the trials that I have undergone as they have made me into the woman I am today.
I am a child of the one true King, and by knowing that, nothing else on this earth can take that or the truth away from me.
I had wished I could unhear the truth, but there’s no such thing. I have heard the truth and now I must live by the truth, and for me, that’s the only way, but it’s the best way. It is full of healing, forgiveness, and joy.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come!”