So actually having to write the statement that I’m about to write is kind of scaring me, because I feel like it was just yesterday that I was graduating high school and imagining how I was totally going to get my life together during those four years of college that seemed like they would go on forever… but somehow, three years have come and gone and I have to say it: I’m in my last week of junior year.
Don’t ask me how it happened or where all of this time has gone, because it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago that I was writing about how I only had five semesters left at UNC… and now I have two! What?! It’s seriously crazy– and I hate to break it to that hopeful high school graduate that believed she would have her life together four years later, but that’s just not happening. It’s okay, though — I think it’s a good thing, because “getting my life together” often signifies that I’m comfortable with where I’m at, and if there’s anything I’ve learned this year, it’s that being uncomfortable never fails to draw me closer to the Lord. This year has actually taught me a lot of things that I’m so grateful for, and I’m using this post to tell you all about it.
Tonight I had my last meeting with my discipleship group for this year, and we were asked to reflect on our years and talk about what the Lord has done in our lives since we came to school in August. I thought about how my sophomore year was a time filled with questions and I spent a significant amount of that year trying to get out of a rut that I could never seem to escape. But as I came into junior year, God had presented me with a challenge unlike anything I had ever known — I had enjoyed a summer filled with so many blessings and so many answered prayers, but then I experienced heartbreak and I was forced to constantly ask myself where God wanted me at a time when everything I had known seemed blurred. It wasn’t long after that I was able to revel in all that God had done for me in those beginning months of junior year, and He provided me with experiences that undoubtedly shaped what I have chosen to do with my summer and have contributed to the person I am now. Just recently, when I started to depend on the good things God had given me instead of depending on God himself, I experienced great disappointment and, by the grace of God, was once again forced to ask Him what He was doing, and how I could play a part in it instead of idly sitting by.
All of that has brought me here, and I think if I could only describe my junior year in a few words, I would say it was simultaneously the happiest and the most heartbreaking year that I’ve ever had — but ultimately, it was a year filled with purpose.
I think I’ve lived a lot of my life understanding “purpose” to be something that was found in hindsight more than in everyday action. But the Lord has presented a lot of situations to me this year that have pushed me to find purpose in the situations He has brought me to, and to do it with great intention in pursuit of His plan.
Often times, we squander the purpose of where God has placed us because we’re too busy coveting what we want God to provide for us in the future — and the reason I can say that so surely is because I’ve spent a lot of time asking God how much longer I would have to wait for the blessings I was praying for, failing to consider that even times of waiting are filled with purpose. My happiest moments of junior year were purposeful — they were God’s way of showing me that He will give me good things to point back to how loving and gracious He is. And the times of disappointment and heartbreak this year were also filled with great purpose — they showed me that when I pray to God for direction and clarity, He will shift anything and everything in my life to get me where I need to be, even if it hurts. He is molding me and crafting me to be a disciple, and doing that is going to take more than just letting me sit in comfortable situations.
In the past few weeks, what I have been reminded of constantly is that God has a higher agenda for our lives than to place us in situations that won’t reap His greatest blessings in our lives. And even from a logical perspective, we can all acknowledge that not many great things are born out of comfort and ease — they are spurred on by hard work and challenges and learning that we can rise above the obstacles set before us.
You are where you are for a reason. A good and perfect reason. If you’re single, you’re single for a reason — you’re not in waiting and you’re not in some inferior place to your friends in relationships — you’re in a time in your life that is filled with purpose. If you’re in a relationship, you’re in it for a reason — to learn how to love another person who is just as broken and sinful as you are. If you’re spending your summer working at home instead of at that dream internship you wanted, there is purpose in where God has placed you this summer. And if you are spending your summer in a place you’ve never been, God has given you this opportunity because there exists perfect purpose within it. No matter where you’re at in life — even in situations where you truly feel like there could be absolutely no purpose — God has brought you there for a reason. Honestly, it would be ignorant to limit God’s work in any situation in our lives, no matter how insignificant it may feel.
In the name of being honest, I have to admit that even when I believe that the situations happening in my life serve a purpose, it doesn’t always make it easier. But the great thing about God is that He doesn’t need me to be strong, because His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) — and the strength and the peace and the patience that I have found in myself these past few months are not my own, but they still live within me.
If you had asked me in August what my junior year would look like, I never would have told you that I would be here — this state of discomfort was the last place I would have wanted to be. But even in my weakest moments, I wouldn’t change a single thing that has happened this year — a year filled with happiness, heartbreak, and purpose. Praise Him.