Written by Beth Richardson. Media by Cord Buchanan.
Graduation is in a week and a half and seniors everywhere are scrambling to finish projects, practicums, final papers, tests, and presentations. We’re also realizing the terrifying reality of graduating, leaving Greenville behind, and leaving the bubble to go out into the “real world.” After four years of being discipled and obtaining a liberal arts education, we should be ready, right? Ready or not, leaving a world of familiarity to plunge into the unknown is frightening. As I reflect back on my four years at Greenville University, I remember defining moments in my faith, which are preparing me to go forward into this next phase of life.
The fall of 2014 was my freshman year of college. I remember the first few months vividly, but the rest was a pretty solid blur because of how fast it went. I was extremely homesick my first few months. I had one friend who came with me from back home, but I wasn’t very outgoing, so making new friends was intimidating. After many nights spent praying for the homesickness to go away and doing daily devotionals with my roommate, I finally started having some fun. Sometimes I still read those journal entries where I was crying out to God and laugh a little because I had no idea how good things were going to get. Everything was awesome to a new freshman. I joined a small group. I found a church community. I had over sixty chapel credits. I often cried at Vespers because I thought that is what you were supposed to do when you are in the awesome presence of God. After a while, that started seeming fake and I did not know if I was putting on a show or truly feeling those emotions.
Sophomore year was hard. I took a class that took everything I believed and made me question it. It was so good for me, but so hard. I kept going to church and chapel, but it felt like I was going through the motions. I kept crying at Vespers, but this time it was because I was hurting. I took that class in the fall but followed it with COR302 during Interterm. That was the class that allowed me to start piecing my faith back together in a new and meaningful way.
Junior year was confusing. I took a semester abroad to Madrid, Spain in the fall. I had so much anxiety leading up to it that I almost decided not to go. It was an incredible experience—one in which God took away all that fear and anxiety. He continually reminded me of Psalm 139:18, which is part of my favorite Psalm. It says, “And when I wake up, you are still with me.” I returned home and fell into habits that I did not recognize or like. I could not understand how God allowed me to have such a wonderful experience and truly feel His presence only to have me return and not like who I was. It took a lot of growing and remembering I am a loved Daughter of God to end my junior year on a good note, but I certainly did.
Now it is senior year. I am scared of what is to come, but I am continually reminded of the things that God has brought me through in the past. Things that I did not imagine I could ever handle. I actually think God often gives us more than we can handle. That is because then we have to bring Him into the picture.
These are some reflections of how I have been on the mountaintop as well as the valley in my faith throughout college. I am a lot more of a critical thinker now, rather than just accepting everything people tell me. That is what college is supposed to help us do. Just because Greenville is a Christian university does not mean everyone’s faith is always on the mountaintop, and that is okay. There are always many more mountains and valleys ahead.