Saturday, May 7, 2016

LU: Year One

The shelves are growing bare as I pack my Rubbermaid tubs and suitcases full of picture frames and clothes and books.

All but one of my finals have been taken, my classes finished & assignments complete. Thank you’s have been given to my professors. Books returned to the bookstore.

I’ve already said goodbye to friends who left before me. My dad has already taken the majority of my stuff home.

I didn’t think I’d be sad about the semester ending, about the school year coming to a close.

But Liberty, you’ve surprised me this year.

This year…

I can’t even begin to put into words all that this year has been.

It’s been hard, no doubt. Really, really hard. I’ve missed home and my church and my friends and my family. I’ve struggled through assignments and gotten really bad grades. I’ve cried on the phone with my mom. I’ve been sick away from home- which is basically the worst…ever. I’ve struggled spiritually in ways I didn’t think I would, especially at Liberty. I’ve dealt with friendship drama. God has said no to so many things. Yes, it’s been difficult.

But, my gosh. It’s been so rewarding.

I’ve made more friends than I ever thought I would.
I’ve had professors who not only taught me with excellence, but cared about me and my life.
I’ve stayed up until 3am laughing with friends and talking about anything and everything.
I’ve spent Sunday nights with a leadership team of ten girls who are crazy for Jesus.
I’ve had the best spiritual and life mentors a girl could ask for in my RA’s and SLC’s.
I’ve cried happy tears when my dad surprised me by coming for lunch when I was having one of those hard days.
I’ve laughed…and laughed…and laughed some more with girls who have become like family to me.
I’ve spent time with my family, and it’s been extra sweet and meaningful now that I’m not with them all the time.
I’ve studied and made up for those bad grades, and more than that, I’ve learned SO much.

I’ve taken English classes where God has reminded me just how much I love literature and history and seeing how the two connect. Education classes that made me thrilled to teach and have my own classroom one day. Geography classes where we had fun learning about the world. Communications classes where God took a class that I was dreading and gave me so many great friendships and times of immense fun.

And yes, I’ve struggled spiritually.

But I’ve also grown by leaps and bounds in ways that I still don’t even fully comprehend.

I’ve learned to trust my Jesus through the up’s and down’s of daily life. To lean into Him when I really can’t make it one more breath without Him. To believe in who He is and know Him personally, not just know about Him. To let Him heal me, even when it hurts at first. To believe that He will keep His promises because He is faithful…even when I am faithless. To see and trust that He will bring me out of the desert and onto the mountaintop where I can see His grace in my every step…because I’ve seen and felt Him do it before.

Tears sit in my eyes tonight as I write this, because I simply cannot believe this year – my freshman year of college – is over. It went by in an instant, a beautiful, challenging, incredible, unforgettable instant.

So thank you…

To my professors for teaching me and guiding me in the Lord and in every subject you’ve taught.

To my people back home (my friends, my church, you know who you are) for supporting me and encouraging me and sending me endless letters (which made me smile so very often).

To my family: my mom and dad, brothers and sister, grandparents and aunts and uncles, for sending me texts (and pound cake!!) and calling and checking in on your favorite granddaughter ;) your love, visits, and support means more than you’ll ever know. Seriously.

To every single one of my friends at Liberty for being the best…ever. For making me laugh, for cheering me up when I’m sad, for being my family away from home. For being there. You’ve helped me fill this year with some of my very favorite memories…I can’t wait to make more.

To Liberty University for being so much more than I ever thought it would be. This time here (and over the next three years) has been and will be incredible. And I wouldn’t want to be any where else experiencing this chapter in my life.

And to my Jesus, for pulling me back to Him every time I stray even just a little bit and for keeping me in tune with Him every step of the way.

As I close out freshman year and head home for a summer with some of my favorite people, I am so so so thankful. And I cannot wait to see what sophomore year has in store.

If it’s anything like this year, then I know I’m in for a fantastic ride.