Dear Freshman Self,
I’ve been thinking about you a lot these days. Every time I walk past a group of freshman girls laughing and discovering this new place, I cannot help but see you. I remember so clearly what it was like to be you. Fresh out of high school, this whole college thing is both terrifying and intriguing- like standing on the edge of a bridge with a bungee cord tied around your legs. You know that you will be ok, and the cord will catch you. You know you will bounce back and be better for it.
But making the plunge, well… it’s scary.
And yet you did it.
You did it and you’re making friends and you’re starting to call this campus home.
And oh, there is so much I wish I could tell you.
I’m a junior now. I’ve lived 2 years in this town, 2 years on this campus. I have made friends and lost friends, made some good decisions and a lot of poor ones. I’ve regretted a few things. I’ve laughed more than ever before and cried enough to last a lifetime.
And I just… I really wish that I could write to you. I wish I could tell you all that I know now. I wish I could give you the advice that I so desperately needed as I began my college years.
I wish I could convince you that your girlfriends are going to be some of the most precious gifts of your college life.
I wish I could warn you that you are going to struggle with idolatry… warn you that you are going to fall into the sin of putting boys before your Jesus. That it is going to take years of prayer for you to give God your future- night after night of tears about desiring a relationship and a marriage. You are so naive right now, friend, as you assume this whole “college dating” thing will be easy.
It is so, so hard.
You are going to be single much longer than you are planning, and it is going to be impossibly hard to have patience. Now, as you are living your first weeks in college, you feel as if you’re swimming in a “sea of boys”. You are about to become oh so distracted, and I really wish that I could save you from all of it.
Because we are ordered to put all idols at the foot of the cross. And you… well you are going to hold onto your idols for far too long, and I wish in all my power that you wouldn’t.
I wish that you would decide right now that Jesus is enough for you.
I wish that you would trust Him starting today. You don’t know this now, but you are about to go through some unbearably hard times in the years to come. God is going to ask more of you than you can even imagine, and you are going to struggle trusting Him. Listen to me… He is worth trusting. There are going to be days that it’s all you can do to get out of bed, days that the darkness seems like it is going to overwhelm you.
In those times, take heart! Jesus promises us that in this world we will have trouble, but that He has overcome the world.
Never, ever forget that. Cling to that promise every day.
I wish that forgiveness would be your first response, and that you would take God at His word. I wish that you would seek Heavenly things and not things of this Earth. I wish that starting today you would walk this campus with a heart of love and a mission from Heaven.
But… well, I know that you won’t.
Sure, you’ll have your moments, and you do love Jesus. But you have so much to learn.
The reality is, you will spend too many days without talking to your Savior, and you will hold grudges too long. You will obsess too much over that boy and too little about being a good friend. You will doubt God and will allow anxiety to be your guide. You will cry out selfish prayers and hold this Earth closer than gold.
You will do all of these things, and you will learn, and someday you will be me… writing a letter to yourself after it is all said and done.
And the more you’ll think about it, the more you’ll realize that maybe that’s the way it is supposed to be. You will make so many mistakes, but they will all shape you into who God wants you to be.
Every dark night will be your chance to see Jesus as your only light. Every grudge will only magnify the incredible forgiveness offered by your Savior. Every tear shed will only bring you closer to the God that counts them as they fall. Every day of singleness will be a new day for you to learn firsthand that Jesus is all that you need. These next 2 years for you will be hard and you will be broken too many times to count, but they are all for good.
So, Freshman Self, at the end of the day I won’t talk to you about boys or classes or roommates. I won’t give you advice on which professors to take or what girls to befriend. Those are all beautiful mysteries for you to live and learn.
Really, I only have one thing to say to you: Live your life with Heaven in mind, and never ever forget the sacrifice that Jesus made for you.
Because, really, it all comes back to Jesus. It all comes back to what He did for you on that cross. There will be times that you are tempted to forget that.
I’ll see you in 2 years.