if I had known.

Well, I’m officially one week into my senior year and I’ve already gotten an e-mail reminding me to apply for graduation — WHAT??  Even though I’m fully aware that I’m in my fourth year of college and I’ve always known that this time in my life would come, I have a hard time coping with the fact that I am less than a year away from being thrown out into the real world.  My sister just began her freshman year here, and I am both insanely jealous and quite amused at how much growth takes place between her stage of life and mine.  After she moved in last weekend, my parents took us out to dinner and my mom came face-to-face with the moment she had been dreading all summer — sending another daughter off to college.  As I drove my sister back to campus, I thought of every encouraging and uplifting thing I could say to make her feel better about this incredibly nerve-wrecking time as an incoming freshman.  Once the thoughts settled and I took a minute to actually think about all that has taken place these past 3 years, I simply said, “You know, if I had known when I came into college all that would happen to me, I think I would have been even more excited about it than I already was.”

Maybe that statement didn’t mean much to my sister, but it most definitely struck a chord with me.  When I think about the immature, unaware freshman girl who came to UNC filled with pride and a shallow heart, I know that it’s only by the grace of God that He placed me in situations and relationships and organizations that helped me grow and become who He had designed me to be all along.  In all of my naivete, I expected college to be four years of smooth-sailing and countless blessings — a vacation from life, essentially.  I was pretty sure that God owed that to me after all of my hard work to get here, but there was just so much I didn’t know.  On the contrary, my college years thus far have entailed so many unexpected challenges and heart-changing relationships — and through the beauty of hindsight, I know that it was in the times where I felt most hopeless that God was doing His greatest work and giving me more hope than I ever could have mustered up for myself.  If only I had known.

If only I had known that I would live in a house with seven of the greatest girls I’ve ever met, or that I would meet people who would forever change the way I saw love.  If I had known that my heart would grow exponentially for New York City and consequently for this campus, if I had known that God would give me the wisdom to recognize how fulfilled I am in places that seem mediocre to others — if I had known any of it, I’d like to believe that the excitement would have been overwhelming.

But the more I start to think about it, the more I realize that the 17-year-old girl who arrived at UNC three years ago would have been highly disappointed in the path marked out for her.  I would have grieved heavily over losing so many of the things that I placed my identity in, and as much as I don’t want to admit it, I think that if God had answered my greatest prayer and revealed His perfect will for my life in that moment, I would have been searching for any and every way to escape it.

While a lot of things have changed since then and I most definitely have an increased willingness to follow whatever the Lord’s plan is for me, I still have my own picture of the way I want my life to play out.  And that’s why I think that God’s will is something that He reveals to us in the most perfect of moments; He doesn’t give us the game plan from the beginning or provide in-depth explanation on any and every event in our lives, and I think it’s because if He did, we couldn’t handle it.  Can you imagine knowing God’s will for you before your heart was ready to absorb it?  I’m sure God has things planned for me down the road that I don’t want to do — big things.  I know that when the day comes where the Lord is calling me to go somewhere or do something that I don’t want to do, my heart will be all in even if it is also filled with fear.  I know that because there was a time that I didn’t want to reach out to people who weren’t in my friend group.  There was a time when I didn’t want to give some of the most important people in my life now the time of day.  There was a time when I didn’t want to go on Summer Project.  There was a time when I didn’t want to lead a bible study.  But all it took was a moment of God’s grace revealed — through people, through situations, through times of waiting — and my heart longed for nothing but the things that I used to never want.  That’s how God works; He continues to rewire our hearts and teach us to desire the things He does.

For the past few months, I have been on an endless rant to God about how He hasn’t been answering my most pressing questions.  What am I going to do after graduation?  How am I supposed to cope with this or that friendship or relationship?  What should my priorities be in my last year of school?  But what I have to remember is that God isn’t task-oriented; He has always been after our hearts from the beginning of time.  He knows the answers to all of my questions, but He also knows that my heart isn’t in the right place to receive them.  I have to say that I’m grateful that God is so patient, even if it frustrates me sometimes.  I think He wants to reveal His will to me even more than I want to hear it, but He looks at me through the lens of this unprecedented love and knows that I’m just not ready to handle the weight of it all.  And because I’m His beloved child, He waits patiently.

The reality is that if I had known, there would have been no room to trust.  If I had known, my heart wouldn’t have learned to depend on God.  If I had known, I would have seen no need for prayer.  So as much as I hate the unknown, I’m convinced there has to be a distinct beauty in it.  As hard as it is for me to wrap my brain around sometimes, maybe I don’t need to know everything.  Maybe I just need to trust that the Lord is good — because one thing that I’ve always known, and always will know, is that His will is perfect, and it will be done.

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