Anticipating College

This past weekend I went to a William & Mary Early Decision networking reception (That was a mouthful!) For new readers, you can read about God’s faithfulness in my college decision here. I was super nervous about the reception, which was strange because I usually don’t get that nervous about meeting new people. But here I was, entering a room with hundreds of people I didn’t know, so concerned with making a “good” first impression. The first few minutes of the reception, I started regretting my decision to come. It was overwhelming. Hundreds of students, parents, and siblings were packed into a small, stuffy room to mingle. Mingling is not my specialty. So I was there, standing awkwardly in the corner eating some snack food, surrounded by lots of other people who seemed to be a having a relatively good time. And then my mom and I noticed another girl and her dad standing near us. My mom was like, “Phebe, you should go talk to her.” And I was like, “But I don’t know what to say.” After about 60 seconds of deliberating, I got up enough courage to awkwardly say, “Hey, I don’t know anybody here but wanted to introduce myself. My name’s Phebe.” (Yay!!) Well, as usually happens, when I stepped out of my comfort zone, everything was fine. We talked for a little, then met another girl who felt just as out of place as us.

Then they separated the students and parents. Now I was especially glad I had met someone. A threesome makes everything better. We walked out into the much cooler lobby and began to yet again – mingle. During that time I think I repeated my name and school about a bazillion times as I met my future classmates. To my surprise, everyone seemed nice and welcoming even if a bit awkward and nerdy (but what do you except for a bunch of future Tribe students meeting each other for the first time?). All that to say, I didn’t need to freak out before. God was faithful yet again! Maybe I should start learning??

Meeting future students got me thinking a lot more about this crazy thing called college that I’m only a few months away from starting. After the reception I’m now a lot more excited, but my fears haven’t been erased either. (Praise though for having my first political conversation with someone of different beliefs and being able to articulate myself decently.) I thought it might help to assess some of my excitement and fear so I can look back and see how God answered them.

5 Things I’m Looking Forward to:

#1: Meeting new people. After having grown-up losing best friends every three years, I start getting antsy to meet new people. I am really excited to meet creative, passionate students who dream of changing the world.

#2: Being in a community of people who want to learn. One thing that frustrated me in middle school and high school was the lack of seriousness about schoolwork. While I like to joke as much as the rest about the pain of school, I actually do enjoy it. And I work a lot harder when I am surrounded by people who want to learn.

#3: Having a community around me. Sports. Clubs. Classes. All done together – as a Tribe.

#4: Exploring new interests. Our first-year experience counselor encouraged all of us students to try something that we have no expectation of mastering. Maybe I’ll try fencing, or yoga, or African dance. Oh, the possibilities!

#5: Being on my own time. While I’ve been making my own schedule since 4th grade, I have still had a family to work with. It will be nice to get to do things when I want, without having to make sure five other people don’t have anything else going on.

5 Things I’m Scared About:

#1: Missing my family and home. While I know it is natural to miss them, I don’t want to be homesick all the time. I’m scared to find out that I can’t survive without them.

#2: Feeling isolated. Even though we are all a Tribe, what if I can’t find like-minded people? What if I feel alone and like I don’t fit in? That’s what I want to leave behind. What if the struggles of college are a continuation of high school?

#3: Falling into unhealthy habits. I am so used to eating healthy, exercising, and sleeping 8-9 hours. Will I get to college and not have the time to take care of myself? I don’t want to always be complaining about how tired I feel.

#4: Changing my beliefs. I want to grow stronger in my faith during college, not falter. I want to solidify my political and moral views. I am worried that I won’t be able to tell truth from lies in the midst of secular students and professors.

#5: Regretting my decision. What I am honestly most scared about is getting to college and discovering that I made the wrong decision.

So there you have it – all my feelings about college strewn out on the web. Great.

In answer to all these concerns and anticipations, God provided Scripture. This morning I finished reading the book of Job. At the end of Job, God finally answers him and his friends. He responds to their questions, anger, and so-called encouragement. The gist of what God says is “Who am I?” God asks, “Where were you when I established the earth? Have you ever in your life commanded the morning? Who put wisdom in the heart or gave the mind understanding?” (Job 38:4, 12, 36). My favorite part is found in chapter 41, where God describes the Leviathan, a terrifying creature who cannot be controlled by any man. Only God is in charge of this creature. He asks Job and his friends, “No one is ferocious enough to rouse Leviathan; who then can stand against me?”

Job’s answer to all of these questions is what our answer should be to God every time we doubt: “I know that you can do anything and no plan of yours can be thwarted,” (Job 42:2).

As I was reading this 5 chapter long discourse between God and Job, I felt incredible peace. Who am I to be afraid? Who am I to doubt God’s plan? All I can do is walk step-by-step in His will, trusting that He will take me all the way.

I am insignificant. He is sovereign.

– – Phebe

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A Belated Valentine

“Forget love, I’d rather fall in chocolate!”

     – Anonymous

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Yes, that’s a real quote that I read somewhere several years ago, and I wrote it in my inspirational quote journal (yes, I really have one) and tucked it away in my heart. The sentiment is nice. It’s a cute quote to pull out when one of your friends need a little encouragement in their singleness. Or when someone asks you why you’re single. 

But chocolate doesn’t cure everything. (Sorry to ruin your pleasant illusions.) Some days we just feel plain lousy. And some days, no matter what anybody says, we just can’t handle watching others be happy in their romantic relationships when we have none. There are a million articles out there reminding us that true love waits and that Jesus is all we need and that each person is beautiful. And while those things are absolutely true, the nice sentiments and pithy quotes just don’t cut it. The empty longing remains. The impatience returns. The lies invade. 

I think what it ultimately comes down to is contentment. I know I have been writing a lot about this lately, but after all it is one of my goals for 2014. Feeling discontent and worthless will only leave you feeling discontent and worthless.

I was going to write this post on the perks of being single, but most of us have already heard that pitch before. I’m going to focus on contentment instead. There’s a current song on the radio called “Let Her Go” by Passenger. In recent weeks, it has reached the top alternative and pop charts. But for every lover of the song, there’s a hater. Despite what you may think of the musicality of the song or the sound of the voice, the words hold a lot of truth. (If you feel like you must hear the song, follow the link.) The chorus reads, “Well you only need the light when it’s burning low / Only miss the sun when it starts to snow / Only know you love her when you let her go.” Plain and simple, we don’t appreciate what we have.

Single? Celebrate! Just as I last wrote about how being a teenager is a unique opportunity, so is being single. You have less obligations and more time. Don’t waste these years pining for Prince Charming. He may or may not ever enter your fairytale. But instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have. You’ll miss out on a lot of amazing experiences if you spend all your Friday nights and Valentine’s Days watching chick flicks and eating chocolate. As a single lady, I plan to spend this time loving my family, working towards a career, building great friendships, and serving God. And I may enjoy some dark chocolate and peppermint tea along the way.

Whether God has a Prince Charming (or a Cinderella if you’re a guy) in store for you ultimately does not matter. What you do with what He gives you does matter. 

We’ve all heard John 3:16 before, but this time focus on the words: “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

He loves you. Yes, YOU. Simple to understand, but not so simple to grasp. Our human nature slips in. We want to be loved by others. We want to be beautiful, recognized, and happy. And on some days, we want to wallow in self-pity and be grumpy. But life isn’t forever. Heaven awaits. So instead of wafting through life wishing for something more, enjoy each moment for what it is–divine.  

For another great article on being content in your singleness, check out this post!

– – Phebe

 

 

 

On Turning Eighteen

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I turned eighteen this week. The day was spent celebrating with wonderful friends and family. Throughout the whole week, I have been lavished upon with love. I could not be more blessed with the people God has placed in my life.

Eighteen is a turning point – a reality check, of sorts, that you are actually growing up. I am an adult in the world’s eyes. My childhood is passing away like a setting sun – bold and full of color. But with the morning light comes new experiences and new places and new people. I am so excited for this new stage of life, but at the same time, I am left a little melancholy.

For all of my teenage years, I have been obsessed with rebelling against the world’s standard of “adolescence.” And while I still have two more years of being a teenager, for some reason I am a little sad that this age of opportunity is passing. Of course, there is so much to look forward to, but I am honestly going to miss being a teenager. When I was fourteen (oh, so long ago) I read a book called Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. They started a movement called The Rebelution: a rebellion against low expectations. Here is a passage from their book.

The fact is that as we get older we begin defining our limitations as what comes easily to us – and our rate of growth in competence and character slows and falters.

When we were children our limitations were not defined by difficulty. Our limitations were not defined by

failure – even repeated failure. So what has changed? Why do babies, with inferior motor skills, reasoning ability, and general physical and mental strength, why do they have a nearly 100% success rate in overcoming their big challenges, while teenagers often falter and fail before theirs?

Wow, convicting, right? The truth is that as we get older, we begin to conform to societal norms. Our American society believes that teenagers are defined by their emotional outbursts, their angry rebellion, their constant disrespect, and their alienation from community. As we begin to believe that definition, we begin to conform.

But this has not always been the definition for adolescence. The word “teenager” actually was not used until the mid 1900s. Before then, you were either a child or an adult. Read more about the Myth of Adolescence here. Our current culture has created this hormone fraught middle stage of self-discovery. And so this age group of thirteen to nineteen conform. We disrespect our parents, we ignore our family, we put in a minimal amount of effort, we focus on ourselves and our circle of friends – in a nutshell, we settle for the path of least resistance. I say “we,” because I am guilty.

When I first read Do Hard Things, I was super eager to jump headfirst into this life of doing difficult things. And to be quite honest, I thinkI’ve done a decent job so far. But recently, I’ve been falling into the teenager-syndrome trap. I have begun to feel apathetic. Instead of wanting to do my absolute best no matter the work, I want to scrape by with minimal effort to achieve a suitable result. Rather than finding myself excited about new challenges, I find myself feeling stressed. Rather than wanting to work hard, I am unmotivated. Maybe it is just Senioritis. But call it what you may, I am conforming to society’s standards.

So do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

(Romans 12:2)

I feel like instead of being renewed, my mind is beginning to atrophy. However, 2 Timothy 1:7 says that God has given me “a sound mind.” A life of complacency is not the life God has called me to. He has called me to a purposeful life.

Teenagers have such a neat opportunity to impact the world. Yes, we are emotional, but passion and zeal can be used to make a difference. Our society tells us to settle for the party on Friday night. But God says run after those social issues, fight for injustice, get involved in politics – stand out in the world. One of the best feelings in the world is to join with other like-minded people to stand for something that you believe in – something that is greater than yourself. Often our greatest rewards are discovered when we step outside our comfort zone.

No matter what stage of life you are in, I encourage you to take on new challenges. Do not let your limitations be defined by difficulty or failure. Do not let your life be defined by the world. Instead, let God transform your mind as you seek to understand His purpose. Let God rock your world.

For a little joy and inspiration today, watch this lyric video to one of Jamie Grace’s songs. My prayer and desire is that I do not lose my desire to do hard things. One person can change the world. My dear friend Ellie decorated a canvas for me with these words from Mother Theresa: “I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.” God has equipped us with everything we need. Do not let your mind and soul fall asleep. Wake up! Let prayer change you. And then goand do life BIG!

– – Phebe

To Wait or Not to Wait?

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To wait, or not to wait, that is the question…

Jamie Grace released a new album just a few days ago, and I would highly suggest that you buy it. (Spoiler alert: You may become addicted. I have listened to her whole album almost ten times in the past three days.) My favorite song on the album right now is titled “The Waiting.” Jamie sings, “But I know this is the waiting / I anxiously wait / As I hold on to love that won’t ever let go / And in these times when my patience is tested / Won’t you remind me that I’m not alone / Here in the waiting…”

I was surprised to realize this was my favorite song, because I have been strongly opposed to every song that talks about “waiting.” I read an article about a year ago called “I Don’t Wait Anymore,” and I jumped on board. All our lives, we are told to wait. Wait to go to school. Wait to drive. Wait to drink. Wait to get a job. Wait to get married. Sometimes it seems like we are simply waiting for our lives to begin. What about life right now? Let’s stop waiting; instead, let us choose to live contentedly in the moment. Yes.

So when I heard songs like “Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord / We will wait upon the Lord / We will wait,” I started getting annoyed. Why all this waiting? To me, waiting implies inactivity. I like to be moving, active, productive – living and breathing. Although waiting is technicaly an action verb, it seems more like a being verb. When we are waiting, we are simply existing, not truly living. Or so I thought.

When I heard Jamie Grace’s song, I started to think more deeply on the subject. And I’ve come to a new conclusion.

David talks about waiting in the Psalms, so the concept is Biblical. Psalm 130:5-6 says, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen for the morning.”

Often we have a hard time seeing God. In the pain of losing a loved one, or in the monotony of an everyday routine, many times we can’t see God working. But we trust that He is there. We trust that He is working even when we don’t have the perspective. In fact, we wait, because we have assurance that God does not abandon His children.

Life is full of times of waiting. Right now, I am waiting to stop feeling sick. I am waiting to turn 18. I am waiting to get my driver’s license. I am waiting to go to college. And in colloquial terms – I can’t wait! But at the same time, I don’t want to get wrapped up in the waiting. I still go out with friends, even if it means humbling myself to ask for a ride. While waiting to have a future family, I train by loving and serving my family. And even though I’m waiting to get a world-changing job (hopefully!) in the future, I am making an effort to bring a difference in the ways I can, for instance, by contributing to Tirzah Magazine.

To me, that is what choosing not to wait is all about. We wait on God, because we trust Him, but we don’t just stop.

I offer up a challenge: be active in the waiting.

Be content in the right now. This moment. Stop. Take your eyes of the screen. Look around you. Breathe. Say something aloud that you are thankful for. And then, go on with your life. No matter where you are right now, God has an incredible plan for you, even if you can’t see it. So don’t just stop. Don’t wait for life to come to you. You are breathing, right? Life is here!

– – Phebe