You Can't Do College Alone
People say that college is supposed to be some of the best years of your life. I can agree. I look back at my college years and I think about the ways I grew personally and spiritually, I think about the memories I made with great friends, and I think about falling in love with my wife. Except my college career didn’t start so great. In fact, I hated it...
For the first 3 weeks of college I stayed in my room. Never opened the door. Barely left my 100 square feet dungeon room in Creswell hall. I acted like everything was okay, and told no one how unhappy I was. My thought was, “How can I be lonely? I am literally surrounded by people all the time.” 36,000 people to be exact, over 100 of them from my high school.
What I had yet to learn is that there is a difference between being near people and being with people.
1 Thessalonians 2:8 states “Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” I knew Jesus coming into college. Those first few weeks where I was miserable I read my bible, I prayed, I went to church, but what I had not done is share my life. I had not tried to build relationships with people. I retreated into my room. Why? Because that was easier than taking the risk of rejection. It was easier to feel sorry for myself. I thought whatever I was going through I could handle it on my own, and I didn't want to bother anyone else with my problems. But here’s the truth:
People need people. It’s that simple.
That is how God set it up. From the beginning he created human beings to help one another (Gen 2:20). It makes sense when you think about it:
•Life can be too hard and difficult handle on our own, so God gives us people to encourage us, support us, and give us wise counsel.
•Other people often have learned certain things about God that we are still struggling to understand. So through knowing other people, we know God better.
•It's when you are in relationship with other people that you learn to do many of the things that Jesus calls you to do: forgive, be patient, serve, and show hospitality.
Those first three weeks of college were difficult, but then this crazy thing happened. I stopped spending so much time with my door closed. I started taking the risk and meeting new people. I kept going to Freshley on Monday nights and Wesley on Wednesday nights. Instead of going home for my birthday weekend I decided to go on the freshley retreat, and met my future college roommates. I look back on my college career, and I have zero regrets about any of the time I spent investing in relationships with people I cared about. Through those relationships I was spurred on to do well in school, to not become complacent or stagnant in my spiritual life, and to constantly grow in my character. It was through those relationships that I learned how to confront, forgive, encourage, and listen.
So my pitch is simply this: don’t do college alone. There will always be an excuse to withdraw yourself - I have to study, I am just really busy, I get awkward in social situations. I encourage you to drop the excuses, be bold, and realize that relationships take some time to form. Then, when you have built friendships with people - be real. Be honest about what’s going on in your life, about your struggles, your fears, and your dreams. Don’t be afraid to have fun. Stay up late. Be the type of friends that push each other closer to God.
After 4 years in Athens I left UGA with a degree, but I also left with a whole lot more. I left knowing the amazingness of God more than I ever had. I left knowing what it meant to have true love in my heart for a brother and sister in Christ. I left with a small scar on my hand from riding a rolling chair down the Pineview Drive hill.
I started college overwhelmed and lonely, and I left changed forever. Ultimately, God is the one who did this in me, but he chose to do this work through community, and I am forever grateful.
If you are a first year student, the best way to get involved in our community is by joining a Freshley small group. You can sign up at any Monday night Freshley service.
- Daniel Simmons