Holding on to my beliefs in undergrad was harder than I thought.
College is a new adventure to begin with. Learning time management, facing new challenges, making new friends (while keeping old ones) and making good grades are all important and necessary. Yet, it took me a lot of time and a few mistakes to realize those things are not the biggest priority!
When I began college, I had to learn to stand up for what I believe, even when no one else was on my side. I am not ashamed of the gospel, but in an age where being “wild” and “free” is the “cool” thing, keeping your faith in college can quickly become a quicksand of intimidation and fear.
Once, I “objected” to a professor’s argument regarding evolution. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. I learned that it wouldn’t be the first or last time that I would have to raise my voice and say, “I respect your beliefs, but they don’t represent mine, because there are still Christians who believe in God and it is important to respect that, just as you would anyone else’s religion.” After class, a few students thanked me for representing the Christians in the room, yet none of them supported my arguments during class.
After all, being a Christian is not very popular in some schools.
This is why it is crucial to have a close relationship with God – to continue to pursue those things that have always kept you close to Him, because your peers and lack of free time will test your faith.
As I get ready to start law school this fall, I have started to contemplate ways to manage my life in accordance with keeping God first: setting time apart to write devotionals and finding innovative ways to meet God in the midst of a busy college life.
Journaling & devotionals
Over the years, keeping a journal and/or devotional, has helped me grow spiritually and as a person. It is a great way to keep in touch with my emotions and remain in-tune with God. Whether you use a fancy leather journal, a regular spiral-bound notebook or the notes app on your phone, make it easily accessible so you can write your thoughts down anywhere, at any time (a private blog is also a great way to keep track of your thoughts and prayers!).
Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day. -Psalms 25: 4-5
When something is weighing on my mind, I like to write it down and release it, at least temporarily, from requiring my immediate attention. This way, I can worry about other things that may also need my attention. God speaks through our situations and feelings, so being able to look at the big picture is invaluable, but it’s hard to do when we are stuck in a drawer with our current affairs.
Another advantage of keeping a journal is that we may be less prone to leave a thought unfinished as we might in prayer. For example, sometimes I’ll pray on my way to work in the mornings. But, if I get cut off by the person in front of me, by the time I get to work, I remember that I didn’t finish my prayer or finalized my words before God (how rude)!
When writing, we tend to be more engaged and pay closer attention. It is also a time set apart for God. It doesn’t have to be fancy or eloquent, just as long as it captures what is on your heart.
Plus, it’s amazing to look back later and see written proof of the fingerprints of God working in your heart and life.
Define what “Jesus time” means to you personally
God drafted our days with similar goals, but very different styles, so that’s why its important to find things that work for you. Do you take the train, the bus, walk, or drive to school or work each day? Do you set time apart for praying, reading, praising, or in fellowship with others, during the day, night, the weekend, weekday or everyday?
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. -Revelation 3:20
Depending on the rhythm of your days, you will need to find simple and innovative ways to maintain your relationship with Christ. Being in a relationship takes time and effort. It is almost like a plant that needs to be watered and taken care of in order to grow.
God is always available for us to come talk with Him and to replenish us in His word. But as agents of free will, it is up to us to accept or decline that invitation on a daily basis.
Here are a few ways you can carve out your daily Jesus time:
- Create a Pinterest board with Bible verses and Godly thoughts for days when you need a faith boost
- Start a bible study with your girl friends
- Join a Christian book club
- Listen to sermons on your iPod when you work out
- Lay outside in the grass and listen…just listen!
- Set apart an hour a day that is solely dedicated to reading your Bible and prayer
- Dedicate to reading the Bible or a faith-based book for 30 minutes before bed instead of watching TV
- Have a weekly Skype date with a friend to talk about God and other issues of the heart
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. -Romans 10:17
As projects become due and exam dates loom on the horizon, you will probably start cutting corners and trimming time away from your day (or night) to give more attention to your studies (or to procrastinate “unwillingly” by ranting on your social media account about how busy you are), remember that God is waiting for you to come to Him for strength.
So, get your agenda and set blocks of time apart for studying, praying, free time, family time, friends, and maybe even a manicure!
Your beliefs are important, so stand up and be yourself. But, to keep your faith strong, you need to maintain good habits and sustain yourself in God’s presence and His words. At the end of the day, your heart will remain in His peace.