Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Advice for College Freshmen (Part 2)

(Read part 1 first, if you haven't already)

Don't Be Someone you Aren't

College brings with it a new environment, new friends, new things to learn, and a place where you are known for who you are. Rarely does anyone there know your family, so you get to present yourself to people who have no idea who you are. It can be tempting to change your personality and try to be someone you really aren't, but it is not wise. It can be a good opportunity to try new things, and change is inevitable in new circumstances, but you should be careful to truly live as the person God created you to be.

Along the same lines, don't give up dreams that you have or change your opinions just because they're not in style or "politically correct." Don't be afraid to share your views - you may find other like-minded friends as a result! They may have just been too scared to say anything.

Don't Compromise
Hopefully you have spent the last years growing in your relationship with the Lord and have grown strong in His Word. Even if you haven't, now is the time to really pursue the Lord above all else and ask Him to show you His ways for your life. At college, whether at a "Christian" one or not, you will have opportunities to do things that you know aren't right. But, when "everyone" is doing something and it seems like such a little thing - and besides, no one back home would really know - it can be hard to stand fast in what you know you should do.

It is so important not to compromise, however. The little things you give in to and explain away lead to bigger things as you get desensitized. If your conscious bothers you and you know that you shouldn't do something, don't do it! Even if it doesn't make sense why it wouldn't be right, don't sear your conscience. God's Holy Spirit will lead with His gentle probings - attune your heart to His voice and follow as He leads. You won't regret it!

Don't Judge
As you stand fast in the convictions God has given you, it will be easy to judge those around you or feel superior when you see them doing things that you know aren't right. While there are definite lines of right and wrong, you shouldn't judge others and try to hold them accountable to your personal convictions. You will meet many people from different backgrounds, different family situations, different schooling experiences, different stages of their walk with the Lord, as well some non-Christians, and you will make friends with many of these people. It will be extremely hard to know what to do about some of the things they think are just fine, when you know that they're not right for you. However, pray for God's guidance and guard against pride.

It will be hard to stand firm and not compromise, but it will be even harder not to judge those that are doing exactly what you are standing against. God has given us grace to live life in many different ways, and we are not to demand of others that they do just as we do. However, in the situations that you know are wrong, you must ask for God to be your guide in what you should do, and ask that He fill you with His love towards others.

In many situations, it will not be the time nor place for you to say something. Sometimes just by living your life and purposing to glorify God in all that you do, others will notice. They will be drawn to you and your example, and you may cause them to think. They will be much more open if they come to you instead of you self-righteously going to them. You may be amazed at how many people are watching the way you live and who thank you for standing firm and yet showing God's love and encouraging them.

However, you also shouldn't be afraid to go and talk to someone should God lead you to do that. Sometimes, He will use you to say the very things that they need to hear. Listening to and obeying God is crucial in these situations.

Live a life of grace towards others, remembering that God has given you much grace in forgiving your sins and bringing you to where you are now.


Clare Marie-Therese Duroc said...

This is such a great series, Anna! This echoes so much of what my brother has told me. He says that the TAC freshmen have a tendency to get either so intimidated by the new environment that they just clam up, which is preferable to the upperclassmen; but that some freshmen put on a fake, bombastic, and rather obnoxious personality which drives everyone around them crazy. "No dancing on the tables before class, Clare."

You would think that a small private college would be very clique-y indeed, but it's refreshingly open. Because everyone is united in the common goal of pursuing Truth and God, they're very accepting of differences in the non-essentials (like interests, style, background, etc).

Not that it's perfect, of course. There are going to be trials in any situations (even with your closest friends, and sometimes even with your family), and your advice to stand fast with God is right on.

Grace said...

This is a very worthwhile post, Anna, even for one who is not in college (like me :) Thanks.

Nella Camille said...

Thank you so much for doing this series, Anna! I'm off to read the new posts!