45 Days of Defeat

7.6.2016

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I’m learning that experiencing my own weaknesses allows me to fully understand my need for God. Through the last few months I believe God has been breaking me down to build me back up stronger and more reliant on Him. He’s been knocking me off my high horse and reminding me that I can’t do things alone. I’ve felt empty and helpless, but also overjoyed and comforted. My emotional capacity has been reached and my mental toughness has been stretched. In the 45 days since graduation, I’ve run into countless walls and I’ve experienced my need for God in a completely different way.

I guess I’ve always known God was cheering me on but sometimes I failed to realize He was actually ahead of me the whole time, clearing the path, and I was just perceiving that I was achieving on my own. I took pride in my accomplishments without seeing He was the One doing all the actual heavy lifting. For so long I’ve made my own plans, set my own goals, worked hard, and rarely left the driver’s seat. My cruise control has been set on graduation and everything else has been an irrelevant blur.

Now, I’ve reached my destination. And I’m so happy about that. I know God led me here. I feel fulfilled, proud, humbled, and THANKFUL to the Lord for bringing me this far. But since then, I’ve also felt silence ….I guess I was hoping to smack into a blinking neon arrow pointing me in the next direction but all I hear is a massive vortex of silence and my own echo, reverberating with the occasional Holy whisper saying, “Trust Me, trust Me. I’m not finished with you yet. You need Me. Trust Me, trust Me.” It’s both comforting and paralyzing. I’m ready to move, ready to work, ready to set my sights on the next thing. But without direction I’m pacing in circles and racing my own anxiety to sunset, just to do it all over again tomorrow. But ya know what? Here’s what I’m learning. I’m learning to not take everything so seriously. That God has given us more than I have ever seen. To slow down, take the blinders off, and look around me. Really look. To see my days as more than a means to an end, then a new means to a new end, and so on.

I feel like a marathon runner who finishes a race, takes their headphones off, comes to a halt, turns around and realizes there’s so much more to their life than their training, their music, pacing, and gasping for breath. They stand on the pedestal and have their medal and a sense of incredible completion, and then it hits them. They’ve spent months focusing on the finish line and now that they’ve crossed it, what happens next? They finally see the 26.2 miles of people who cheered them on, the crisp blue sky above and comforting warmth from the sun, the flowers along the course. The things they missed. They think back to the hours of training and realize that it was important but not the most important- now the race is over and there’s a whole big life ahead of them. They get a tiny glimpse of the “big picture” that God orchestrates.

In the 45 days since graduation, I’ve struggled. But I’ve also appreciated life in a new way. Everyday I’m being broken back down and built back up, searching for a new sense of purpose. My “trust God ” muscles are getting stronger and stronger. I’ve learned how incredibly pleasant it is to drink my morning coffee on the deck at my parent’s house, even if it’s noon. I’ve learned the long way around the running trail to the lake is much more beautiful than the shortcut. I’ve learned last minute plans and extra late hours with friends and long family dinner conversations are all things to be celebrated, not stressed about. I’ve felt empty and helpless. But I’ve also felt relaxed, overjoyed, truly loved, and overflowing with laughter and simplicity. After 16 years of school I’ve learned life is built up with beautiful moments much bigger than what any degree can bring. Through the constant cycle of tears looking for a job I’ve learned that I can survive, but only with a whole lotta grace and strength from God.

As I look at my future, I see so many closed doors. Some were slammed in my face, some locked twice. Some I shut myself, and some I never even bothered to knock on. But now I need to keep looking ahead. Keep looking for the door He is calling me to- the one He’ll swing wide open and lead me to when I least expect it. It may not be easy to get there, to be patient, to trust, but I need to keep telling myself it will work. I haven’t gotten this far on my own. So, here are 2 really important things:

  1. My identity is in CHRIST alone. Not in my degree, job, GPA, or pay grade. Not whether I’m engaged or break 100 likes on instagram. Not whether I’m the best coach or friend or cook or roommate or budgeter or daughter or sister or girlfriend. In CHRIST alone. I am a daughter of the Most High King, the One who created all with a single breath, the One who died to save me, the One who loves me unconditionally. I suppose I can deal with that. My life is SO MUCH MORE than my career.
  2. Trust God. He will bring me to the right job. He’s brought me to the “right things” over and over again during my 21 years of existence. He will orchestrate something so much more beautiful than I could ever put together myself. I cannot do this on my own, and God is taking this time to teach me that.

So, this is my public proclamation of defeat. This is me laying down my stubbornness, my need for control, and my need to plan my future. This is me taking a deep breath of God’s grace and exhaling the anxieties that fight for my heart. This is me laying out my hands, palms up, asking God for direction. This is me saying I am not invincible, I cannot do everything, but I’m eternally thankful that I can rely on the One who is. This is me climbing out of the driver’s seat and surrendering it over to the One who loves me like none other.

 

I hope you can all learn from my 45 days of trying to control a life that is not mine alone. God bless!

 

Oh and don’t forget~

2 Corinthians 12:9 – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

John 13:7- Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 

Philippians 4:7 – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 46:10 – He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.”

29 Things To Do At Bethel University Before You Graduate

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  1. Study abroad.
    Whether it’s a full semester or an interim trip, studying abroad is one of the best decisions you’ll make in college. Almost 73% of Bethel students study abroad- one of the highest percentages in the country! Check it out. (If studying abroad isn’t your thing, Bethel also facilitates multiple mission trips!)
  2. Learn the acronyms.
    You’ve really gotta learn the lingo around here. But don’t be intimidated- we’ve got you covered! AC, BC, DC, CC, HC, RC, SRC, WLC, CWC, SA, BSG, UCB,CDC, TCO, the list goes on…
  3. Drop your tray in the DC.
    It’s kind of like initiation. People will clap and laugh but I promise they’re laughing with you, not at you. We’ve all been there. (Remember: DC= Dining Center)
  4. Respect your professors.
    Seriously, these professors are awesome people and they’re very well connected. Don’t ditch class and don’t slack- they grade your work and can even recommend students for jobs! Remember, your advisor is your friend.  Even better- be a TA if you can (another acronym, I know…“teaching assistant”). Plus- the professors here are some of the most caring people you’ll ever meet.
  5. Also, go to your classes.
    Just go. Netflix will still be there after you graduate.
  6. Spend all of your flex in the first month of the semester.
    Just kidding- don’t. But be fair warned- the dining selections are pretty great (Caribou Coffee right on campus that accepts flex dollars?! Count me in!). The many different meal plan options make it easy for you to find exactly what is best for you.
  7. Workout in the new Wellness Center.
    The facility is incredible. They even have free group fitness classes! Another bonus: alumni automatically receive a lifetime membership!
  8. Go to chapel & vespers.
    Even though these events are optional, they make Bethel such a special place. Believe me- you’ll miss them! Check out Shift, the prayer chapel, Twin Cities Outreach, Pray First, and Student Ministries events also. God is moving on this campus!
  9. Join a committee, club, or sport.
    Can you say resume booster? Plus they’re fun. Plus you meet great new people. Win-win-win.
  10. Take advantage of the Office of Career Development and Calling.
    The career counselors are on your side! They provide powerful guidance as well as resume tips, interview help, career fairs, networking events, site visits, you name it. Bonus- Bethel alumni get to use the Office of Career Development and Calling for life!
  11. Paint the rock.
    This is simply tradition. Find your clique and do it. Get creative. And don’t forget to take pictures-you won’t regret it!
  12. Respect the Covenant.
    Bethel University has created such a unique culture due largely to the commitments set by the Covenant For Life Together.  Know what you’re committing to- and know that it’s to one of the most powerful communities you’ll ever be a part of.
  13. Get a job on campus.
    Extra cash. No commute. A manager who understands the demanding schedules of college students. How can you go wrong?! Check it out. (And refer to #4: being a TA is the BEST job)
  14. Order Davanni’s pizza- ON FLEX.
    But only after 6pm and before 10 pm. Because the flex life is the best life.
  15. Take an internship.
    Whether it’s required for your major or not, taking an internship is an impactful experience that’s only available for college students.  Having an internship on your resume will  increase your chances of being hired after graduation and give you a chance to experience your field of study in a hands-on environment. Bethel’s connections can help make it happen!
  16. Make several trips to Perkins after midnight.
    Bottomless coffee mugs & quiet study spaces are just a bonus- bring your friends along for one of the most celebrated social traditions on campus.
  17. Join a local church.
    Bethel is really intentional about not having their own services on Sundays to encourage you to also  invest in the surrounding community. They even provide bussing to many fantastic churches nearby. Invest in one, or try them all! Take a look.
  18. Sled down Sem Hill on a DC tray.
    Enough said.
  19. Explore the metro area.
    Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the suburbs are vibrant with activities and opportunities. If you have a car on campus, or know someone who does, hop in and drive around in your spare time.  Fun roommate challenge- try to explore and study at as many new, different coffee shops as you can each semester.
  20. Trip on the awkward stairs.
    Or the DC stairs. Or the BC stairs. Or anywhere, really. Another initiation thing. Make sure to laugh at yourself.
  21. STUDY .
    Between the many teaching assistants, tutoring center, faculty office hours, exam study sessions, and library resources, you can do it! Bethel wants to see you succeed and provides these resources for your benefit.
  22. Not on an athletic team? Join an intramural or club team!
    Stay involved with your favorite sports and get active with your friends!
  23. Show that school spirit!
    CELEBRATE the fact that you belong to such an awesome community. Cheer on your friends at sporting events, get decked out in BU gear, and take the Homecoming Cup seriously.
  24. Fall asleep in the comfy chairs in the lounges.
    We get it. We’ve been there. Take that power nap and get back at it!  We half-heartedly guarantee that no one will post anything on SnapChat….
  25. Attend Students Activities events.
    You’re paying for them anyway as part of your tuition, and they’re fantastic. From the banquets to the holiday parties to the campus-wide competitions and more, they’re the perfect study break and community builder. (PS- you’re not a true Bethel student unless you post multiple banquet pics)
  26. Get to know your RA.
    Your RA is there for you for whatever you could possibly need. Even though they have to enforce rules, they also want to see you succeed and enjoy your time at Bethel. Plus, they’ve committed their whole school year to being there for you- they must be pretty great, right?
  27. Live on campus.
    Living on campus is the easiest way to get plugged in, meet new friends, and experience the community at Bethel. So much growth happens through this experience.  And, it’s convenient!
  28. Live off campus.
    Finding your own roommates and housing at some point of your college career is a great transition that will help you prepare for life after Bethel. There’s many apartment buildings and houses within 10 minutes of campus.
  29. Most importantly, thank God for bringing you here.
    Never forget that He has such a divine plan for your life- and how much of a blessing it is to have a place like Bethel to call home. Your college years are full of struggles and growth, celebration and excitement. How great is it that we get to experience it in a community so invested in Christ? God is good!

Did I miss anything? Comment below!