Friend, I know — it is not always easy to stand up for our faith and not let the ways of the world affect us. This is especially difficult when our faith is tested in a difficult environment, as the college tends to be. We need to be mindful of walking with the Lord, seeking Him on a daily basis and not conforming to this world. But how do we do that? Here are a few things I have found to be important in staying a Christian while attending college or university.
I sat there watching the forest shine in the tender, bright afternoon sun and I couldn’t help but wonder, how often I had been here — watching the beauty of God unfold around me while my heart was breaking. It seems that this happens often lately, like I am barely able to catch my breath between the breaking of my heart. I knew that moment so well. The one when the world stills for a moment, when time stops and the world quiets down. It is in the quiet of those moments that you heart the sound of your heart breaking, the echo of the pain loud.
I keep thinking if I should tell you a story of a year of heartbreak. But even now I wonder if I am telling this story too soon. It is, after all, a story of a year of two break-ups, of abuse of all kinds, of witnessing the unexpected divorce of one’s parents, of watching a sister’s health crumble down, of watching loved ones walk away from the Lord. It has been a year of many unexpected broken moments.
Even now, I watch the glorious light pierce through the moment of silence like a reminder of hope. The echo of the pain is loud; the wounds are still open and I wonder, how much a heart can hold. But the truth is that even now, I sit here with a heart that has been held together by the One who made it. After all this I can still say: He was here with me. He is here with me now.
This is a heart-breaking world
Friend, what broke your heart? What did you lose? Did you lose a loved one — a family member or a close friend? Did you lose the baby, the job, the house, the opportunity you had been praying for? Were you rejected, betrayed? Did he break up with you, walk away for someone else? Did you watch your dream, your reality fall apart because of circumstances you never saw coming?
Maybe right now it feels like your heart gets broken again and again. I know, friend. I am walking there too. Or maybe it is the same pain, the one that stretches you thin as the wounds keep reopening time and time again. I am with you there, friend. It seems so painful, these wounds never healing and turning into scars. Maybe this was unexpected, the surprise accompanying the pain making it all the greater. I know the pain, the way it pierces through your heart.
I am sorry, friend. I so wish I could take away your pain. But I know God is doing something great behind all this.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
God can carry your pain
It comes with every season of heartbreak, this question: how do I live with a broken heart? Do I have what it takes to carry with me a heart that is so bruised and hurt? Most often, the echo of pain drowns all the answers. I never asked the question why. For some reason I am like that. But I worry, and I keep worrying until I am reminded of the sin of worrying.
“Hearts are broken in ten thousand ways, for this is a heart-breaking world; and Christ is good at healing all manner of heart-breaks.” (Charles Spurgeon)
Friend, I can tell you this. No matter how your heart hurts right now, Christ is able and willing to heal your heart. He can hold your broken heart together, gently in His scarred hands when it all feels like it is coming apart. He can do this because His heart knows the pain and brokenness so well. In all, He loves you just the same. You might feel like He does not love you. It might feel like He is a thousand miles away. But I keep thinking of the broken read to Calvary, the weight of the heavy cross on the shoulders of Jesus — and I know, He can carry my pain. He can carry your pain, too.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NLT)
You are not alone.
Have you felt the need to connect with others around you more? Are you lonely, looking for more friends?
I have been an introvert all my life. All through my childhood and teenager years, I was a major introvert. Social gatherings often came with anxiety, and I had only a few close friends. Throughout the years, however, God has changed me bit by bit.
Some if it I can see coming from my studies: being a speech therapist makes you want to connect with people on a level they are able to do it. You are always seeking ways to better connect with people, to communicate with them better, and to help them communicate with you better. I think God is also changing my heart for ministry’s sake. I am an encourager at heart and I want to help, edify, and encourage those around me. As I am growing more in putting my gift into use, God is giving me a heart that wants to reach out to people and connect with them.
I have found, though, that so many of us women wish that others would want to reach out to us and connect with us. We feel lonely — at home and at church. We feel like we are lacking friendships that build us and encourage us. So we wish and pray that something would happen, yet it rarely does. And I think that is because no one of us is taking the first step in connecting with one another.
So instead of wishing that things would change, that others would change — maybe it is time for us to change? Maybe it is time for us to learn to reach out to others and connect with them?
Tips On How To Connect With Others
Be interested in them.
Some of us are introverts; others are extroverts. That affects our need or desire to communicate and spend time with others. But I am sure that all of us want to spend time with those people who are actually interested in us. So consider this. Why do you want to connect with this person? Is it so that they would encourage you, help you, admire you or edify you? Or is it because you like this person? Because you want to be friends and learn more about them?
Pursue a friendship with them: be ready to put time and effort into this person for a season. Be ready to get uncomfortable in pursuing them and asking them to hang out with you time and time again. Someone always has to take the first step; so maybe risk it out and be the person to do that.
However, be wise and gracious in choosing the people. We easily fall into choosing people who are like us — whether it is in age, personality, family situations or work. What if you challenged yourself to choose someone you would not normally choose? Maybe choose an older person to sit down with and have a coffee with them. If you are married, maybe you could choose a single person. If you are an introvert, maybe choose that loud extrovert.
Reach out in small ways.
Depending on our current life circumstances, some of us can honestly be crazy busy right now. I know I will be going into a season of working in a city two hours up north during the weeks, only to drive down home for the weekends to be in ministry. I cannot meet people during the week, simply because I will not be here. But this doesn’t stop me from reaching out in smaller ways.
There are so many small ways you can reach out, that do not take more than 10-15 minutes out of your day. Maybe send a text message to ask how you can pray for them — and then actually pray and tell them what you prayed. You could call them, spending 10-15 minutes just to ask how their day has been and if there is something you can pray for. Send a postcard or a letter to let them know that you’re thinking about them. Send a photo to share something about your day, to let them feel more connected with you.
Ask questions about their life and follow up.
Asking questions can come quite easily to us, especially if the other person is fairly new to us. What do they do with their life? How is their family? When did they get saved? Have they gone to other churches than the current one? What is important, however, is to follow up with some questions. If they share about something where there are concerns, make sure that you keep asking about that matter again. If they share a prayer request, ask if God has answered the prayer.
Questions To Ask To Connect
I started leading a women’s Bible study recently. I know these ladies, I am friends with them. Yet I wanted to know them on a deeper level so that I could connect with them better. So in our first meetings, I asked questions — a lot of them. Ice breakers are great in situations like these. Yet I wanted to ask some difficult questions as well, to truly get to know one another. I, of course, answered these questions myself, and I had not prepared any answers because that would make it quite unnatural.
- What is your favorite characteristic of Jesus?
- What do others most often misunderstand about you?
- How is your devotional time going right now? Do you struggle with Bible study or prayer time?
- What do you wish others would do more for you or with you?
- Where have you seen God come through for you this week?
- How have you grown during the last year?
- What is one quality or gift you have that you like?
- What theme or topic God is talking to you about in this season?
- Is there something you fear that is hard for you to let go?
- What are your spiritual gifts?
Do you have any suggestions or ideas for connecting with others? I’d love to hear them! Leave them in a comment below.
Creating Calm in the Center of Crazy by Nicole Johnson
Does it feel like you are too busy to even catch a breath? If you have found yourself in the midst of living a crazy busy life, this book might be for you. In Creating Calm in the Center of Crazy, Nicole Johnson shares her story of realizing her life had gone out of control. There was no time even to talk with God. It was then that she started on this journey of creating calm in her life.
In Creating Calm in the Center of Crazy, Nicole Johnson shares her process of discovering the parts of her life that created craziness. She shares about finding the things that helped her to create calm. These are not clear cut ways and steps to take, but rather some practices and disciplines that will help to find calm in the midst of the busy life.
Lately, my life has definitely been filled with some amounts of crazy as I am involved in different ministries and I will be starting my internship in less than a month now. So I was looking for a book that would help me to create calm and be still even now. Yet I found that this book did not really inspire me. There were stories of things that helped Nicole Johnson, yet I did not really find there things that would help me right now that I didn’t already know. I also found myself skimming some parts of the book, as the author did not really keep my attention. All that being said, it could be that you can find this book useful to you if you have found yourself in a situation like this.
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I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. All the opinions here are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.