Dear College Freshman Alicia,
I know that your time away from home is challenging, and I know that your family is facing many difficulties. Know that God knows what is happening as well. He records each tear that you cry, and he aches each time you’re anxiety is once again so intense that you vomit. You will get better. You will learn to smile and to laugh again. Please don’t lose hope!
Recognize that your relationship with God is indeed your most important relationship. Yes, be involved in campus ministries, and recognize that you do not have to go to a Bible study every night of the week to impress God. Your Heavenly Father desires for you to tell him how you really feel. You don’t have to get his attention with “churchy” words. You can be real with God.
Your friends are important. Your roommate will someday stand with you at your wedding, and you’ll be a bridesmaid in her wedding. However, not all of your friends will still be close to you at the end of the next decade. Care less about what they think about you, and instead care more about how you can show them that they matter. You may only have a semester or two to be close to someone during this season. Be yourself because you are the only guaranteed person you’ll always be around.
And yet I know that you have no idea who you are supposed to become. You grew up in a small town with great values, and you were nurtured by a wonderful church congregation with a specific theological bent. The world is more diverse than what you have always known. Hold on because you are going on quite an emotional roller coaster before you discover who you can be and what you can do. No matter what though keep your roots grounded in Christ and maintain the foundation of your home town and your home church. A lot of love and care went into shaping you, and you will always be grateful for where you come from.
Learning Spanish is important, but you don’t have to be a perfectionist. The hours you spent in your professor’s office begging him to change your grade could have been better spent actually learning the language. Learn to work hard for your success rather than trying to change someone’s mind.
Have fun! Watch the movie with friends rather than trying to do homework while everyone around you is watching the movie. You can really enjoy the basketball game without doing your homework during time outs. Realize that you can relax and the world will keep spinning.
One of your most important decisions was to become involved in a local congregation, Buies Creek First Baptist Church. Continue to let these wonderful folks love you, challenge you, and pray for you. You’ll look back on your friends and mentors from this place, and you’ll be thankful.
Your Older Self, Rev. Alicia Turner Beard