The Lord knows. This is the refrain my soul continually sings, sometimes whispers, sometimes groans during this season. He knows. I grow ever more thankful for this truth as the days pass and graduation grows dim in my memory and further away in my calendar. Seasons change like the wind, and as I find myself in unknown territory without any set plans, I am thankful the Lord knows. As transitions and change continue to invade my life, I am trying to process the last five years and all the graces and struggles and beautifully hard moments that changed me. I just returned from a trip to Israel that I will remember for the rest of my life. It was a perfect ending that leads to a beginning: a new season of possibilities, dreams, fears, and learning, ever so slowly, how to take each day at a time and work faithfully.
No one warns you about the uncertainty and vulnerability that accompanies finishing college, and I am wandering into this new season cautious yet hopeful of the Lord’s commitment to accomplish his purposes in my life. More than anything I am overwhelmed by the continual reminder of his grace as I process and think through the last few years. I wrote down some of my story during my season at Boyce, and below is what I’ve reflected on the last few months as I have wept and rejoiced over finishing school. I made it to the end, and while it was sweet, it also held much sadness and uncertainty. But it is good.
As I reflect over these five years, I am struck deeply by God’s grace upon grace that flooded my life the first year I lived in Louisville. A church family adopted me, shepherded me, and taught me how to care for my own soul as I fumbled through the pangs of growing up almost rapidly. My pastor and his wife guided me as I learned to let go of perfection and control (still working on that one, guys) and embrace the sorrow and brokenness that often accompanies life. Families welcomed me into their homes and lives, let me love their kids but also let their kids love me in ways they didn’t even know I needed. A grader turned into a boss who believed I was capable of more than restocking magazines or getting coffee, and let a nerdy intern like me make mistakes, send emails incorrectly, and constantly gave me opportunities to try, fail, grow, and try again. But always with the expectation that I would improve next time. He eventually put enough confidence in me and hired me as a news writer, giving me a job I did not deserve at my age or level of experience. Yet he taught me and guided me, which led to multiple opportunities to grow a skill I fell in love with and want to do for the rest of my life, if the Lord allows.
I remind myself of some sort of baby animal that first year of college, trying, on wobbly legs, to gain independence yet looking ridiculous while doing so. I made so many mistakes, embarrassed myself more times than I like to remember as I pridefully thought I had it all together, and felt the sting of heartache deeply for the first time in my life. That year is one of the sweetest to remember, though, because I finished it a different person than when I began. And that’s how I feel about every year since.
More than anything, my memories of college will forever be filled with sweet souls who befriended me, challenged me, let me sleep on their couch for weeks while I transitioned houses, let me cry over multiple coffee dates, and welcomed me into their homes, no matter how messy or crazy, showing me hospitality and kindness as they poured into me without even realizing it. I’ve reached the end of this season weepy and weary in many ways, yet rejoicing in the kind God who gives such undeserved gifts.
All of these graces remind me of his faithfulness. He did not forget me. This astounds me, yet it shouldn’t. Instead, he knew best. He knew what I needed for his glory and my good. None of the last five years were easy. I struggled to pay bills, balance life and home and grades, keep relationships in tact from afar, keep things in perspective, and I struggled to trust God on the difficult days when I didn’t think I could go another day. Most of my best friends moved all within a few months of each other two years into my time at Boyce. My community dispersed in a matter of days, and it hasn’t quite been the same since. I’ve experienced loneliness, grief, and frustration at my own sin. My plans to move to Scotland changed earlier this year, and I don’t know what I’m doing anymore, which is a daily battle to trust the Lord as he guides my steps. But he hasn’t forgotten me.
I wouldn’t trade the last five years of my life for anything. I know God’s character, my own soul and sin, my gifts and weaknesses, the beautiful design for the church, and I have a hunger to learn more than I did five years ago. If that is all I ever gain from these years at Boyce College, I will forever thank the Lord for this sweet opportunity to glean from some of the kindest, most pastoral professors and their wives. I don’t think any season is quite like college. We wobble around and figure out who we are at the same time as a thousand other peers. We drink from a fire hose almost ten months out of the year as we sit in classes and absorb information. We worship together, laugh together, cry together, and dream about the future together in a season of its own. Life will never look the same, and while I am thankful for the years I spent in school, I closed this season with a sweet sadness at an ending I never anticipated. For one of the first (but hopefully not the last) times ever, I am relieved and thankful my plans did not pan out for my life.
I hope the next time I freak out, I can remember that God’s plans are so much better than we can imagine. Sometimes I get upset when people say that because I know life is difficult. I know many people right now struggling to make it spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. It seems like they received the short end of the stick, so to speak. They didn’t, though. Just because we post pretty, filtered photos on social media, or I write about my season at college doesn’t mean dark days don’t exist. God’s plans are the best plans. His graces involve both the dark days and the lighter days. I wouldn’t want the last few years without both because I grew more through the darker seasons than the easy ones. I want to move into this next season remembering his faithfulness and trusting him to provide and lead me in his path for his glory, like he did in the past and will continue to do forever.
It is a sweet realization to grow in knowledge of the Lord’s grace in knowing us deeply. He not only knows the future, but he knows our souls and loves us still. He knows, so we need to be still and know him. I hope my soul continues to sing this refrain and grows ever stronger in trust that he is a good father who knows and has not forgotten us.