In Christ Alone

It is no secret that I do not like school. Especially coming off of the summer going into fall semester. I tend to start out really really strong, dedicated and motivated. And then, as the weeks pass, classes get harder, the weather gets colder, I get more and more tired, and it all becomes one big recipe for disaster.

My freshman year of college during my fall semester, I struggled a LOT. It was not my first year taking college classes by any means but it came with a unique set of challenges that I hadn’t anticipated as I got older and classes became more difficult. It was not easy and at the end of it, I was SO ready to be done. I was not in a good place mentally or emotionally. I give all the credit to God through my best friend at the time. He was by my side every single step of the way, encouraging me when I was exhausted, pushing me when I had no motivation, and keeping me from completely isolating myself. God truly did work through him in those months.

But as time has passed, I have realized that I gave my best friend a little too much credit and God not nearly enough. Yes, I am still so very thankful for the support that I was given during that time and for how my friend looked out for me, but ultimately, he was not the one that got me through the semester. God used him in great ways for my benefit but that was all God. God got me through the semester. God motivated and pushed me when I could not carry on and used my best friend to point me towards Him. I just never really took the time to see it. Until this year.

The spring semester following that time was much different. I had less stressful classes and a short but very fruitful break that didn’t make it so hard to come back but did help me to recover from the difficulties of the fall. Additionally, the warming temperatures played a huge role in my ability to cope, recover on the weekends, and stay motivated. The first bit may not have been as great but I found little ways to hold out the couple weeks until spring began to make her appearance. I was certainly more isolated during that time but I was far less stressed and far more connected with my family. And especially towards the end, I had the hope and anticipation of leaving for my summer job at camp to get me through finals.

But the low that came from returning home from that job was almost unlike anything I had ever felt. Having to leave behind all of my friends that I had lived with and walked alongside for ten weeks and settle for just texting, calling, and meeting up when we happened to have time was difficult and a hard reality to accept. Additionally, I was dealing with the classic low that comes from returning from a place where we were so wholly focused on Jesus. I was no longer surrounded by other people pursuing Christ with their whole heart like I was. And it is far easier for Satan to pick us off when we are alone than when we are all together. It truly felt like Satan was throwing absolutely everything at me that he could. Every positive thing in my life, I felt conflicted about and like I was making a mistake by even being involved in them. Every friendship, every choice, I doubted. But I didn’t really have time to deal with it- I had two weeks to relax and recover from the less positive aspects of the summer and then it was back to my old job and back to school. So on top of the spiritual and emotional turmoil I was already feeling, I was having to juggle school, work, and running a club on campus.

The second half of the semester was truly the hardest few months that I have gone through so far. Even finishing school brought me no peace- I got all good grades, I exceled in all of my classes, and they were finally over. But I felt as if my personal life was falling apart around me and I was watching helplessly, asking God why He wasn’t making it stop.

And it took me a little bit to really understand it. If you have been here for a while, you know that I actually schedule these posts out quite a bit in advance typically. Which means that I am actually writing this in January before this new semester starts so that it is less work to focus on when I have school. So to be 100% transparent, I still don’t really understand what God is doing and why these last couple months went down the way that they did. I do believe that it goes back to February 7th’s post about being gracefully broken, though. There are a lot of areas in my life that have needed refining for a long time and I am finally letting God have His way in me and stopping fighting His will. I am finally learning to trust in Him, even when I do not want to. To let Him refine me and allow Him into my life more than ever.

One way that I have come to allow God into my life more as time has gone on is that I have realized something. I have realized that there was no one to get me through this semester. Arguably the worst semester of the five that I have been a full time college student and the one that I have been the worst mentally, there was nobody there to pick me up and push me forward. Not because nobody would have been and not because I didn’t have friends or family around me. I had plenty of people that were around me and that were supporting me. But it was different. They had their own things going on and everyone was just trying to make it through in the same way that I was. We all did our best to be there for each other but it wasn’t the same as before and it was never going to be enough. And God never had it in the plans for me to have someone to give credit to or to say He worked through. God never wanted me to be able to place the glory or the praise on anyone but Him. No friend got me through this fall semester. No family member got me through this fall semester. God did. God and God alone got me through this fall semester, just like He is carrying me through the spring one right now.

He did still work through people. My older sister and two best friends, all of whom were many hours and miles away, often became my journal when I needed to get words out but was too tired to actually write them and didn’t really know what to say. My younger sister and my mom and my dad gave me countless hugs and encouragement. My older brother sat on the phone with me for hours when it all just became too much and I needed someone to just be there and love me through the tears. He used the guy in my life at the time to hear my fears from the past and encourage me and tell me I was going to make it, even when I doubted that I would. God still gave me a community and love and support from the people around me. But it was miniscule and insignificant compared to the love and safety and support that I felt from my Heavenly Father each step of the way.

In Christ Alone, my hope is found. He got me through every moment, hour, and day of that semester, just as He will get me through every day, month, and year of the rest of my life. The credit and the glory belong to Him alone. And that is something that I do not ever want to forget.

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