by Sarah Dooms
You’re on your way to college. It’s a time to experiment, try new things—to use a cliché, “find yourself.” Right? Maybe yes, but how does all of that fit into the life of a Christian? New lifestyles with differing values and beliefs will surround you. Do you doubt what you have always believed to be true? Do you rebel? Try something out before you’re confined by grown-up life? After all, you are out from under your parents’ thumb. God gives us freedom, but what does that mean? St. Paul tells us that “everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 10:23) or constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” You may feel overwhelmed by the choices you face. I know I felt that way.
I can most easily compare college life to living in a bubble. You think you’re out in the real world, but it’s simply a different one. Just as that colorful sheen exists on the outside of a bubble, that same shine can distort your life while at school. I will never dispute that living at college teaches you many valuable things. Inside and outside of the classroom, life is full of fun and different experiences. However, I have encountered many ups and downs. Without the solid support system of the family and friends who love me, and the receiving of God’s gifts at church each week, a stable and happy existence has turned out to more difficult than I had expected.
Developing a new church home is essential. The faithful routine of attending church to hear God’s Word and promises is completely necessary. We are sinful creatures and college life often glorifies that. Hearing the Law and Gospel convicts us of our sin and grants us Christ’s forgiveness. While I admit, it’s difficult to wake up early on a Sunday morning, you will never regret doing so.
I also encourage communication with those who are important to you and have your best interests at heart. I am by no means saying you must call your mother or father every day, but the advice from a loved one who shares your faith and beliefs is irreplaceable. Whether it takes the form of a short phone call, a quick e-mail, or even a chat via Facebook, that connection with someone who has supported you your whole life will help keep you true to yourself amidst a collection of new friends and temptations. And don’t forget your campus pastor as a gift to help keep you grounded in God’s Word.
Finally, never feel bad about taking your time in making an important decision. It’s a terrible feeling to think want something in the moment only to regret it later. There’s nothing wrong with being spontaneous or even impulsive at times, but in matters that involve your morals you should take extra precautions. The unhappy fact that many around you are participating in inappropriate behavior with their newfound freedom should not depress you or shake your awareness that it’s wrong. Do not indulge because you feel you’re alone. Trust God’s plan for you. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
College is often seen as a time to make mistakes and you will surely make them, but thankfully we have forgiveness in Christ. Through His sacrificial death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead we have the promise of everlasting salvation. Remain steadfast in your worship life, the study of His Word and the partaking of His Body and Blood. Accept guidance from the loved ones He has given you. He will sustain you.
Sarah Dooms is a sophomore volleyball player at Valparaiso University and is studying Communication and Public Relations. Sunday mornings you can find her listening to Pastor Foy’s sermons at Prince of Peace Lutheran. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org