Four years ago, I was eighteen and Grand Valley seemed massive. After my parents unloaded the Jayco and put my dorm room together, I remember asking my dad how long he thought it would take me to find my way around [my effectively linear, two-sidewalk] campus. He looked at me with this look that simultaneously said, “I can’t believe my little girl is starting college today” and “I can’t believe my little girl is such an idiot.”
I fell head over heels in love with college pretty instantly. I remember one specific night sometime in September, one of those perfect autumn nights that make you believe that God designed this season specifically for college campuses. Tuesday. The best nights were always Tuesday during freshman year. YoungLife happened on Tuesdays and YoungLife meant games and cute, older boys and feeling like I belonged to something bigger than myself. I walked across campus that night, surrounded by a cloud of people who seemed too cool and funny to be real. This was my new life and I was so, so happy. That particular moment is tattooed forever in my memory, because for the first time, I knew beyond any doubts or fears that I was fully in the middle of where God wanted me to be.
I still feel that way. I have loved college – loved it. The very best and worst times of my life have been crammed into the past four years and the fact that it is ending in a matter of days is both unbelievable and incredibly appropriate. This season of my life has been about so many things – I have fallen in love with academia and Grand Rapids, with the Writing Center and my professors, with my friends and their families, with writing and cardigans and Crossroads Bible Church and Marie Catribs and oversized rings and small group girls and Grand Valley’s campus in the fall. I spent eighteen years daydreaming about college, four more years existing in it, and in two weeks I am walking away a completely different person than I was when I got here.
And now it is ending. And it’s time for a different dream, a strange place, an unknown community. It is time to leave and meet new people and see new places. And see new places I will – I have just paid a deposit to go on the World Race, an eleven-month mission trip in eleven different countries. Starting in September, I will join a group of strangers to travel the world and make Jesus famous. I will pack everything in one giant backpack, carry a tent and a sleeping bag, and hopefully die to myself a little bit more every day. Easy to say for a girl who considers checking into a Holiday Inn to be a rough equivalent to camping…
This adventure is going to be more than life changing – it is going to be life defining. I trust that God has a plan for it that is both massive and intricate. I am praying that He will break me of my pride and my materialism and show me more and more of who He is and who He wants me to be. I’m more excited and terrified that I can possibly articulate.
College has seemed like a massive adventure to me and I never even left Allendale. If God can work in me and grow me and change me so much here in Southwest Michigan, how much more can He work and grow and change me when I am so far removed from my comfort zone and everything that is familiar? I can’t think of a better, more appropriate next step for my life. I am ready to experience life in a new way, to be more moldable and vulnerable, to surrender my dreams in exchange for His plans. I am ready to base my life on the hope I have for things unseen.
So the next part of the story is up, simultaneously clear and veiled, thrilling and daunting. I’m ready to be done with school, but sad to leave this place. I grew up at Grand Valley. The people I met shaped me and the experiences that we shared have made me who I am; I am so deeply, incredibly, completely thankful for this time in college. But it is time to move and I’m ready to do that. I don’t know exactly what the next year will entail, but so far God has been good on His promises to provide and I have a feeling that the best adventures are yet to come.