things ahead

August has rolled in pretty quickly and that means a few things…1. scarf season is coming 2. football is now here 3. i have a birthday coming up woooooooo and 4. school is BACK … 5th year senior status y’all. Apparently changing your major every semester doesn’t get you a degree in variety or indecisiveness, instead it just makes you stay in school a bit longer until you make up your mind.

Some people cannot wait to get out of college. At times I would venture to say that I fall in that same category of being completely ready to graduate and move on to other things…real things… some would say. When conversing with people, I sometimes make comments like, “I cannot waaaaaaait to graduate”..”December can’t come soon enough”..”Thank goodness for one more semester”..”I wish I would have graduated in May”..the list goes on. Yes, those thoughts may be true at times, but when I really sit and think about it, my feelings are actually quite different. I am really seeing the beauty in staying in school for an extra semester. Here are a few reasons why staying one last semester is clutch: I get to spend another semester doing ministry with Cru and investing in freshman girls’ lives and encouraging them to grow closer into their relationships with Jesus, I get to take an extra 4 months to figure out what in the world the next step is for me, I get to have one last semester of 11pm workouts in the rec, I get to spend some sweet time at the reservoir, I get to work with the sweetest of 3 year olds, and I get to live 4 more months with little responsibility compared to what life after college will be like. 

With a lot of excitement and anticipation for this coming semester, I decided to look back and see what the last 4 years of my life have looked like….

When reminiscing on these years, I noticed that they consist of two completely different girls. I see a young freshman/ sophomore girl who searched for her identity in all different things. Someone who on the outside had everything together, but on the inside was like a box full of mixed up puzzle pieces. There was an emptiness inside of her that no one could see, only she could feel. The other girl I see is a junior/ senior who, by the grace of God, found her identity in the only fulfilling and sustaining thing there is…Jesus. This girl was completely swept away by the Gospel and the love of Christ, and those mixed up puzzle pieces began to all fit together. There was no longer emptiness, but wholeness that seemed to overflow day in and day out. Since then, there have been so many exciting tales and adventures, but the part I love to notice is the switch from lost to found

These last 4 years tell a story of a girl who went from being mislead by the world to being a girl who was engulfed by the Gospel and didn’t look back. Only by God’s grace did this happen. Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” That 20 year old girl, who thought she was figuring her life out, wound up being scooped up and placed on a new track by the One who created the world. Okay, so obviously.. this girl I am referring to is me. God transformed everything: my mind, my heart, my actions…everything. Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” I literally saw these verses play out and shape the Haley that would begin to live each day for the One who died on a cross that I might have a relationship with God and receive eternal life.

So, to kind of switch pace for a second..we do notice that there are lots of great things about college that people love. There is tons of freedom, thousands of people, sports, clubs, parties, and there is food on just about every corner of campus. The thing most people love about college is the minimal responsibility and endless amounts of freedom. Those two things fit together quite nicely. The traditional college student can do whatever they want without having to worry about a crazy amount of responsibilities waiting on them. For most, college is a time to experience things and figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life. 

 

See, college years tend to be the years where we “find ourselves.” We find what makes us happy, what makes us tick, what things we’re interested in, and what things we want to pursue in life. In every way possible, these college years were, for me, just that. In fully finding Jesus, that’s where I found myself. In fully finding Jesus, I found what makes me happy..what makes me tick..what I’m interested in..and what I want to pursue and live for the rest of my life. College will forever hold one of the most special places in my heart and may even be in the running for something like: best “season of Haley’s life” award. College has been hands down the coolest place to begin closely walking with Jesus. I am surrounded by people daily who are going through the same thing I did when I first went to college, and I get to share my stories with them. I am surrounded by “twenty something” year olds who are finding themselves, and getting involved in things that interest them. I also am able to be in Bible studies with other believers on campus who share the same life experiences as me. I have met the most wonderful and loving of friends there. Ones who are walking through the same season of life and can encourage me and lift me up daily. The list goes on and on of all of the great things about college… but the one that stands out is this: I fell inlove with Jesus in college. Hands down, that is the coolest part about my college career. I was captivated by the Gospel and it has changed every aspect of my life..for the better.

So, in entering this final semester of school I can either be really stinkin’ excited that I am graduating (like I tell most people), I can sit around and be sad that these particularly fun years of my life are coming to a quick close, or I can rest and trust in the fact that my future will be greater than my past. I have so much learning still to do, so much intentionality to be had, and so much love to be given. I am so thankful that I get to spend another semester at Ball State, but I am also really excited to see what God does with my time after I graduate. I can also hold on to the promise of the eternal things ahead. In this phase of life I am not necessarily being invaded or attacked, but I still love looking at the conversation between the prophet Habakkuk and God. After Habakkuk cries to God, God’s response is, “Look among the nations and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe even if told.” (vs. 5). 

As I look back and see the beauty of the work of the Lord, I cannot help but be excited to see what is to come. There are sweet things in the past, but there are even sweeter things ahead.

time passes

They say hindsight is 20/20. After situations and circumstances in our lives pass, we tend to see them more clearly and understand them a little bit better. We might have a better understanding of why they happened, we see how we can react in the event that we go through the same thing again down the road, we identify the ways in which we were shaped or taught by them, and we just have a better view of them overall. For most people, this is proven to be true 100% of the time, and for me personally, I get smacked over and over again with this concept.

A while back, I wrote a blog about finding comfort amidst chaos. I was in a really weird transition between my second-to-last semester of school and my last summer as a college student. This particular transition was so confusing and hard because I didn’t know how exactly I was going to be spending my last “summer break” before my final semester of college. A ministry internship had not been working out as planned, and I was in a state of what I’d like to call–Haley crisis..meaning that I literally was so upset and worked up about something that might not trigger those same emotions in other people. I was so scared of staying in Indianapolis for the summer without definite plans. No job, no internship, no worth wild plans…nothing. To steer clear from the boring parts of this story, let’s just jump ahead 3 months later..taking us right to the point in the calendar where I realize that summer is ending and I head back to school in a week.

…that point in the calendar is now…the beginning of August and in about a week I head back to finish my very last semester of school…

And so this is when I look back and see what that weird and scary transition from May looks like through August’s lenses. I can’t say that I am outrageously smarter than I was 3 months ago, or that I will never be scared of an awkward transition or decision again..but I can say that The Lord cares about awkward and weird transitions. Looking back, I remember how concerned I was with the possibility of not being used in Indianapolis to serve God and those around me. How silly was I to be worried about something like that!?

The Lord placed more things in my lap than I could commit to. At points I was baffled by all of the opportunities that He had given me and couldn’t even believe all of the doors being opened. I was given opportunities to spend time with and teach/learn from an awesome group of middle school girls at my church and share with them the importance of evangelism and some experiences I’ve had with sharing the Gospel. I was given the incredible opportunity to meet and babysit the sweetest of boys who, every time I am with them, they remind me of the simple pleasures of life. I was given, on what seemed to be silver platters, countless opportunities to serve and invest in a few people in the Indianapolis area who, without purposely doing so, humbled me and reminded me how precious life is and to live it to the fullest. And on top of those things, I was reminded through a series of events that we are not entitled to everything we tend to think we are entitled to. We are not entitled to good health, we are not entitled to wealth and success, and we are certainly not entitled to writing our stories in our own ink. Our lives are written by God and sealed with the precious blood of Jesus, and everything else we try to compensate with and strive for does not prevail. Even in striving to live out God’s will, we will be redirected and transitioned in ways we would not imagine until it is 3 months down the road and we get to take a nice look in the rear view mirror. 

A reoccurring theme has been flooding in my life lately. “Time passes.” No matter what emotions we feel, how stressed we get, or how confused we feel in life’s transitions and unknowns…time passes. If this is true, why don’t we learn to use this pass of time in only positive ways? Three months ago I was pretty confused and stressed out..well now I’m about to have a head-on collision with the most awkward and tough transition in my life.. post-graduation. YIKES. And once again, no job..no plans..no clue where I am headed. As much as I sometimes begin to fall back into my scared and confused Haley crisis, I have to remember what this time and transition will look like 3..6..12 months from now. The time will pass, so I just have to remember what I have learned and hold onto God’s promise of faithfulness. God is faithful in these transitions. Even while I have NO clue which way to go, He is guiding me and moving me along His path.

Scripture tells us time and time and time again that God will never leave us nor forsake us. He doesn’t turn his back on those who love Him. When God tells His people that He will not leave or forsake them, He tells them these things to comfort them in big situations, but He also whispers these things to us in the small situations too. In Deuteronomy 31, Moses tells God’s people that “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” My transition from college student to post graduate may not really be entered into the “Guinness Book of World Records: Craziest Life Transitions/Decisions,” but it is still cared for and orchestrated by the One who created me and gave me life. One of my favorite Psalms reminds me of this beautiful truth. Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Looking back, I can see that I would much rather The Lord’s will for me prevail than anything I could ever come up with on my own, so I choose to hold onto His promises and seek Him as this time passes. Scripture also tells us that His ways are far better than our own, and it is a much more comfortable ride when we remind ourselves of this daily. 

Instead of just agreeing that the statement “hindsight’s 20/20″ tends to be proven true 100% of the time, I am so much more confident in saying that God is faithful 100% of the time. And more than just having faith that we will one day see the purpose of life’s transitions and timing, let’s have faith that God is specifically using those very transitions and timings for us to best know and love Him.