Whether you are a parent of a recent graduate, a college freshman yourself, or anyone who is struggling with your identity and path, you will get something out of today’s guest post by Adrienne Moncrief. I know Adrienne’s mother well and when she told me that her daughter was writing a blog, I was eager to check it out. She writes with the grace and wisdom of someone much older, but also with a passion and intensity of a young woman who has given her life to God and is boldly walking where He leads. It is my privilege and pleasure to share her story today AT THE CROSSROADS.
Adrienne recently graduated from Miami University with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Professional Writing and Strategic Communication. During her time at Miami, she was involved in numerous organizations, most significantly Cru and Chi Omega Fraternity, and she studied abroad in Luxembourg and Peru. She loves to write, travel, and share her faith, and she hopes to combine these passions throughout the rest of her life. Adrienne plans to take part of the summer to enjoy traveling and spending time with her friends and family. She will begin her new job at Cleveland Research Company, where she will work as a market research associate, starting in July.
Last night I had the opportunity to share my story and some wisdom I’ve gathered throughout college at the Cru weekly meeting. I was asked to share a couple things God taught me in my years in college, and I only had seven minutes to do it. I remember thinking, how in the world am I going to say all that I learned in only seven minutes?! God has taught me more about Him and more about myself than at any other time in my life, and He’s done so in the most diverse ways.
If you’re a college freshman or younger, then this is for you; I hope it resonates with you in some way! And if you’re older than that, then, well, I’m sure you have tons of wisdom you can impart on me as I enter the next stage of my life 🙂 Here it goes.
“As I thought about what I was going to say tonight, I tried to remember where I was three years ago today. Physically, I was probably sitting in Laws, Benton, or Farmer listening to a wise, old senior share his or her story. Mentally, I was probably thinking of a million other things such as my new membership in a sorority, my recently declared double major, my attempts to find a summer job or internship, my first college spring break trip, or maybe even what I was doing after Cru with my friends. Overall, I probably thought I was doing okay.
When I was 19, I couldn’t possibly imagine what I would be like at 22. If freshman-year me was sitting in the audience right now, I’m sure she wouldn’t believe senior-year me describing what happened in the remaining three years of college. I’ve met the most amazing friends, role models, and mentors. I’ve become more appreciative of and inspired by my selfless, generous, and loving parents. I’ve traveled to three other continents, started a blog, led Bible studies, interned and now will work in a field completely different than what I’d been studying, and taken all sorts of other risks despite fear whispering why I couldn’t do them. And I’ve critically thought about what I believe rather than simply accepting what churches, organizations, and 10 years at Christian schools had taught me.
Freshman-year me would wonder, “How in the world will I get to THAT point?” I knew I wanted to keep pursuing my relationship with Jesus and grow in my faith, but I also think I came into college with a list of expectations, whether consciously or subconsciously. I wanted to be more of “this” and do less of “that” and show everyone how “put together” I was.
But God has done so much to transform my heart and prepare me for the next stage of my life. The last thing I want to do is use this stage as a platform for my accomplishments throughout college. But I do want to share a part of my story to encourage you, whether you’re the most outgoing or the most introverted person in the room. If you are willing to be used by Jesus and walk with him daily, He will work in your life in ways you could never imagine or plan for yourself.
Based on what God has taught me in the last four years, here are two of the most important lessons I’ve learned:
- I am not in control of my life – God is.
- I must find my identity in Christ alone because nothing else is worth it.
It sounds weird to say that you’re not in control of your own life, but it’s true. Sure, I made little decisions like what I ate for dinner tonight and bigger decisions like where I’m going to work after graduation. But when I think of all the little ways in which the milestones of my college experience fit together, they are starting to make sense – and as a whole, that’s something I could have never planned.
As I mentioned earlier, I came into college with preconceived expectations. I had expectations on how I would share my faith, who I would date, and what I would do after I graduated. It’s safe to say that none of those actually came true, but I’m surprisingly at peace with it because I believe everything happened for a reason. Simply put, I believe everything that has happened to me in college was orchestrated by God so that I would recognize my need for him and glorify him because he loves me and saved me.
In several different circumstances I have been able to see how God aligned my steps so that I would end up exactly where I needed to be. To just anyone, these circumstances sound crazy, but to me I see the hand of God. I’ll give you a couple of examples. Looking back at all the little things, it makes so much sense as to why God directed me to spend six weeks of one summer in rural southern India teaching English to little kids. And although it still doesn’t make total sense to me, I can see that God wants me to work at an equity research firm in Cleveland when a part of me would much rather work at a nonprofit in Washington, D.C. or as a blogger in Nashville.
If anything, God has taught me that he knows me better than I know myself. He created me, after all! He is slowly revealing to me qualities and gifts I didn’t realize I had, or didn’t realize were strengths, until I got to college. So take it from me, a former high-strung, controlling planner: it’s okay to have goals and dreams, but when your expectations of your path keep you from going down God’s path for your life, then you know that God is not the center focus of your life. If you are anxious or worried about anything, the future or a relationship or a grade, come before God and confess that you’ve been trying to control your life and you want him to do it instead.
Second, I’ve learned so much about in what or whom I tend to find my identity. God has reaffirmed how he is the only one I can put my hope in. I can’t define myself by my grades, appearance, and accomplishments, or how many friends I have or countries I’ve been to, or how much attention I get from boys or money I’m going to make. Because at the end of the day, there’s always going to be someone who has me beat in one or more of those areas. If I put my identity in being a leader, I will eventually feel undesirable or inadequate. If I put my identity in ‘having it all together’ then eventually I’m going to feel shame when everything falls apart.
Jesus is the only true source of our identity because we are made by him and for him. We were made to glorify God and in the image of God. For most of junior high and high school, I wanted to be different. I wished I was more bubbly and outgoing, and believed that if I worked hard for it and prayed about it then I could change. When nothing really happened, I felt discouraged, making myself feel more insecure. I identified as being smart, although I really just wanted to be the girl everyone liked. I figured if I was more outgoing, I would be happier. I soon started to understand change doesn’t come at the snap of my fingers; prayers are rarely answered after praying about it one time. I fell in love with Psalm 139, which reminded me that God knows everything about me, even the parts I try to hide. I realized God had a design for me that was different than what I appreciated at the time. God has used experiences that have put me way out of my comfort zone so that I would be forced to rely on him and no one else, including myself. He’s put me in places where the people around me barely know my name, let alone my accomplishments. But through these experiences, I have found that it’s enough that He knows everything about me and loves me anyway. I’ve found that finding my identity in Him, for me, is enough.
As I stand here, I can confidently say my experiences in college have transformed me into a more secure, courageous woman and a more devoted follower of Jesus. And while God has been faithful and blessed me abundantly, he has also humbled and refined me in the most painful ways. My experiences in college have led me to realize my own brokenness, to be vulnerable with others about my weaknesses, and to be honest with God about what I’m feeling towards him, even if it’s anger or frustration.
God has done so much in my life to prove his faithfulness to me during my time at Miami. I hope what you can take away from my story is that God is bigger than our expectations and mistakes. If you put your trust and identity in Him, I can’t promise your life will get easier and change will happen right away. But I am certain that if you relentlessly pursue a relationship with Jesus, then you will experience a peace that can’t be explained and a hope that can’t be matched by anything in this world.
To continue to follow Adrienne on her journey, visit her blog at www.adriennemoncrief.wordpress.com
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