What a Year! Can I Tell You About it?

Hey guys! I can’t believe this is my last blog of the school year! I’m a very sentimental person, so whenever a season of my life comes to a close I tend to reflect on what I learned and how I’ve changed.

So, as my way of signing off, I’m going to recall and share with you some of the most prominent life lessons I learned during my first year at Biola.

Community

Within Biola’s 95 acre campus, I’ve been surrounded by a community of other Christians. I know this unique opportunity won’t last forever, but I’m glad I’ve been able to experience it.

Living in such close proximity to others, specifically in a dorm, has taught me how to be more generous with my time and attention. I think that I’ve become more patient when people “interrupt” me and my to-do list, because I’ve found that some of the most meaningful and impactful moments can happen unexpectedly. Some positively life-changing conversations have happened between me and the girls in my dorm room. These can happen at any hour of the day and often don’t come with much warning. Conversations like these have occasionally happened outside of the dorm as well.

Through this, God has been urging me to be more emotionally present in every moment, because any conversation can be an opportunity to encourage someone, be encouraged, or be challenged and sharpened in our faith.

Wisdom & Diversity

Along these lines, I’ve been realizing that, within community, there are so many wise and unique people around me! I tend to be a little bit prideful in my thinking and assume that I know more than I do. Having this mindset can make me closed off to hearing new ideas and receiving advice. But through multiple conversations with professors, faculty, and peers, I’ve been recognizing the value of listening to others’ perspectives and stories. I’m gleaning so much wisdom and being so challenged by those around me! I love how diversely God has made everyone and shaped their life stories!

Words

God has also been showing me how powerful words are. I’ve felt incredibly blessed and empowered by precise feedback and specific encouragement from my professors. Affirmations, prayers, and prophetic words from my peers have also been reshaping my thought patterns in a positive way.

The power of words also became evident after the death of one of my professors this semester. He was the most verbally encouraging person I’ve ever met. Since he passed, I’ve learned that he impacted and changed several people’s lives with his generous affirmations. To live his legacy, I’ve felt compelled to be more generous with my words of encouragement to others.

Identity

I’ve always known that I’m God’s child and have always believed that he has good plans for me. Yet, I’ve struggled to let those truths change the way I think about myself and affect my attitude and daily decisions. It has always been more natural for me to get a sense of my identity and worth (and look for direction) from things and people…Until this semester at Biola.

I feel that I’m starting to really “get it” on a deeper level. I understand the significance of being God’s child and being born again. I think that this is because I’ve heard statements about my identity in Christ repeated and expounded on by chapel and conference speakers, professors, and classmates in my theology classes. The more I read and study Scripture, the more everything sinks in 

I’ve enjoyed being able to remind myself that I’m God’s beloved child; that I was created to worship and enjoy him; that he calls me to be an ambassador/representative in his earthly Kingdom; and that he has called and elected me to do certain things.

I’m enjoying the freedom that comes from thinking about myself and talking to myself as God does, rather than how the world may think of or label me.

The more I embrace the fact that God made me uniquely and has a special purpose for me, the less afraid I am for the future. I recognize now that my time at Biola is a time to discover what God might be calling me to, what I’m passionate about, and what my niche is. I don’t fear “messing up” my future or appearing imperfect to other people as much as I used to.

Jesus VS. Self-Help

I’m quite a perfectionist, and I like to improve things wherever I go. Unfortunately, when I direct my energy towards trying to “improve” and even “perfect” myself, it can be unhealthy. Thankfully, God has been showing me this semester that unless Jesus is my focal point, I can’t really become a better version of myself or feel a sense of wholeness.

Moving to Biola in the Fall was my biggest life transition yet, and it triggered feelings of uncertainty and inadequacy in me. I tried to soothe those feelings through methods of self-improvement: eating “perfectly,” making sure I got “enough” exercise each week, studying hard enough to get A’s, reading self-help books, and listening to podcasts by non-Christian influencers about how to be “better” in various ways.

Now, striving to be healthy and live a good life are not bad things! But, long story short, these self-improvement strategies haven’t made me feel deeply satisfied or at peace. The feelings of accomplishment have been short-lived. My self-reliant endeavors don’t fill me up or bring me a ton of joy—rather, they leave me wanting more.

What has really made me feel satisfied is looking outside of myself—at Jesus. Knowing and loving Jesus better and keeping his words in my mind has lead to moments of deeper peace and fulfillment.

My theme verse for this school year is John 15:5: Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” When I first encountered that verse this semester, it really stood out to me. Since then, I’ve been learning what it looks like to truly “abide” in Jesus (Jn. 15:4).

I’ve discovered that when I truly put Jesus on the throne of my heart, my life is a lot more fruitful and satisfying, and I become more of who I was created to be. Looking to Christ as my supreme role model has brought healthy improvement to my life, and the Bible has been the best self-help book there is. ;)

In Conclusion…

Thank you for joining me on my journey to “Becoming Biola”! I appreciate you being my audience and reading my reflections from my junior year at Biola. I hope you feel encouraged by the lessons that God has been teaching me and that you’ve even learned something new about Biola or God himself.

Until next time,

Jessica