I don’t want to complain, because I have nothing to complain about and I have a lot to be grateful for. But I do want to explain what I have been feeling lately and that is discouraged and lonely.
There is something that has been constantly on my heart: This countdown that I am faced with is something a lot of you are all too familiar with, the final days, them being 25, until college graduation. That is 25days until I am thrown into the real world. That is 25days until I am introduced to a world of no tests, no homework, no college parties, and no more relying on “daddy’s” money.
Being a Christian at the University of Alabama is not easy. But really is it easy at any university? This time in my life has been the biggest challenge and learning experience. . . especially since I was known to drink a whole water bottle full of vodka for a night out. I was the “go to” for nights out till 5 A.M. Then, I took a 360 for Jesus. During my sophomore year, I fell onto my knees crying out to Jesus in surrender. Then, I returned to the college campus as a new human. It was hard for my friends, around me, to adjust to my new values, morals, beliefs and soul. I watched church sermons on my laptop instead of attending a pregame. I read the Bible instead of searching the internet for the “healthiest alcoholic beverage” to lose weight. There were many who were shocked at my new life. People from home thought I would never surrender my soul to the Lord. I was known as the one who was too lost for saving. I showed them. Thank you, Jesus.
Now that I have become a more “experienced” Christian and have a year and a half as a true believer under my belt, I now have the reputation of being in love with Jesus.
It’s been almost a year and a half of being a true believer in Christ. It’s a new season, not one of being lost or feeling ashamed and I am no longer in the season of becominga believer. But what I am in, what many college students, college graduates and maybe even some high schoolers can relate to, is a season of loneliness and a season of waiting.I am constantly waiting on the Lord to answer my prayers and the feeling of waiting and not knowing is scary. I had to be vulnerable to put my future is in His hands. But, the Lord calls us to “fear not” because He’s got it. In this season, He is challenging me to stand still and trust more and more in His love. I just hear the word of the Lord saying, “Stay in. Be still. Wait on me.” It is scary. I get lonely pretty much all the time. Sometimes I break down wondering why I feel like I don’t have friends. Sometimes my loneliness takes over me and I think it’s my fault. Can anyone relate to this? Sometimes I think that maybe something is wrong with me. But, that’s the words of the devil because scripture describes us as “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Pastor Steven Furtick, from Elevation Church, explains that the longer we wait on the Lord, the bigger the blessing will be. God has a plan for me and He has a plan for you. Sometimes obeying His orders takes longer than we wish, but it’ll be worth it. I can promise you that God has not left your side because He is on your side.
He didn’t leave me when I continued to idolize boys, alcohol, drugs, friends, social superiority and appearance. Each time as I abused my body to please everyone but the One who created it, Jesus never stopped whispering, “I am waiting and the devil does not own you yet.” Although I tried to convince myself, those around me, and the Lord that I was doomed for hell and that the devil had control over me, the Lord always had his hand on me as my Protector.
There are so many different seasons of life you will go through. Since God is the Creator of heaven and earth, He is also the Creator of seasons. 1 Peter 5:10 says, “After your season of suffering, God in all His grace will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” You will be healed and renewed from every little thing you go through. Continue to trust and wait on Him. Be patient. Hillsong Worship sings, “If You’re not done working God I’m not done waiting.”
It has taken me 21 years, but I have to realize that I am not in control. When I try to control it all, I lose it all. Putting my fears and loneliness in the hands of the Lord, is the only route to peace. Kristene DiMarco sings, “Take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul. He is in the waiting. Hold on to your hope. Watch your triumph unfold. He is never failing.” When we are waiting for the Lord to answer prayers, that is when we need to lean deeper into His love. We learn more about our identity in Christ when we are waiting on the Lord. I have strengthened my relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit now more than ever because I have dropped EVERYTHING and placed it ALL in His hands.
Since I am about to enter the real world, I am in the search for a job. Someone has to pay the bills and it can’t always be my parents. I have had interview after interview. I have been flown out to other states to join Networking Conferences and Final Interviews just to be let down with a letter that says something like, “Thank you for your interest in ‘such and such’ company. Although you have the required background, we have decided to move forward with other qualified candidates.” I have been let down over and over again. After over-preparing for every other interview, I am denied. Literally. Has anyone else been denied in life?
It is quite discouraging when you believe so highly of yourself. I think “Heck yes. I am perfect for this job. The Lord definitely had this planned for me. This company has the perfect work culture for me. There is no way I won’t get this job. They seem to love me. My conversations with the interviewer were so engaging. God is so good to give me this opportunity. Thank you, Jesus. I will get that offer. I can’t wait to start this new job.” Then, the letter enters my inbox. The tears begin to burst. But, I hold them back because the Lord has a BETTER plan for me than that job. This is all practice for the real thing. Practice makes perfect, right? So, once I get enough practice with these constant interviews and time spent researching every company, the Lord will place the right job for me in front of me and I will kill it. I may feel defeated and discouraged along the way to complete God’s purpose for me, but I will stay strong in the Lord’s truth. I will not let the devil’s words affect me. Isaiah 41:10 tells us, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and I will help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Just as I finished typing up this verse, I got an email asking me back for a final interview with a company I am so passionate about. This brought tears to my eyes because the Lord said, “Steph, I am here. I am working on answering your prayers. Here is a company that is interested in you. This may not be the company you will get the offer letter at, but just know that there is still opportunity out there for you and just know that I am still here with you. I will never abandon you and I certainly will never stop loving you. I have a plan for you. Continue to trust me. I love you my child.”
This gives me strength to turn the other cheek and not blame myself for not getting the gig. Bad news will bring no shame in my game. Psalms 112:7 says, “She does not fear bad news. She confidently trusts the Lord to take care of her.”
Micah stood for God even when no one cared enough to listen to his message. Micah’s consistent confidence in the Lord is reflected in his prayer, “As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me”. (Micah 7:7)
You may wonder what are you supposed to do in order to please the Lord. What is God’s will for you? What does the Lord require of you? Micah 6:8 answers these questions by saying the key is, “to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
So, there it is. My prayer is that this could be a powerful encouragement for an upcoming college graduate. I hope these words, from the Lord, encouraged you, reader, for whatever season of life you are currently in. I pray you hold on tight to the Lord’s truth and you wait for the good He has planned for you. The waiting game is a time for you and God to win and for the devil to lose.
Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. (Micah 7:8)
In Haggai 2:9, The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, “The future of this Temple will be greater than its past glory . . . And in this place, I will bring peace.” The Lord wants you to know that you have a brighter future ahead of you. You may feel hopelessness now, but that is the devil talking. Run from those evil thoughts and run to the Truth! The Lord wants you to cast all your anxieties onto Him, so that He can deliver you with complete peace. (1 Peter 5:7) Once you do this, the Holy Spirit will fill your soul with courage, strength, and peace.
Here are verses that have given me strength through hardships. I believe any college student, soon to be graduate, or anyone who is faced with trials will relate to the Word of God. I encourage you to spend time reading the Holy Bible each day—whether it is a few chapters or one verse. The Lord speaks so clearly through scripture. You will see how God always fulfills his promises and never gives up on His children. Last year, the Lord called me to read the entire Bible—start to finish. One of my mentors knew this goal of mine and mailed me a Bible book that lays out how to read and understand the Bible fully. Since then, I have devoted time to the Lord to prayerfully read His Word. It has been the best decision of my life.
Micah 7:20– You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago.
Deuteronomy 31:16– Do not be dismayed, for I am with you. I will not fail you or forsake you, wherever you go. Be strong and good of courage.
Psalms 18:30– As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him
Jeremiah 5:22– I, the Lord, define the ocean’s sandy shoreline as an everlasting boundary that the waters cannot cross. The wave may toss and road, but they can never pass the boundaries I set.
1 Peter 1:3-4– Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.