I am astonished that my first semester of college is almost over. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was sitting at my kitchen table in Charlotte, building my class schedule with my Dad and chatting excitedly over all that was to come at Biola. Although I have lived in SoCal for only a few months, Biola has quickly become like home. I dove head first into everything that life in SoCal had to offer, which allowed me to quickly acclimate to life here.
As I reflect on my semester, the first thing that comes to mind is the personal growth I experienced. To an outsider, I may seem no different from when I first stepped off the plane in August. On the inside, I feel like a totally different person. Over the course of this semester, I battled homesickness and loneliness in the awkward space of transition. The Lord also rerouted my life to follow his plan. (I picture him literally typing in a new address to ‘Google Maps of Jessie’s Life’ LOL.) However, along with the difficult times, I have experienced deep friendships, thrilling adventures, revelations from the Lord, spiritual growth and a new beautiful community -- it’s the paradox of life.
The Lord has taught me (and is still teaching me) me how to be okay with being human. That sounds so simple, but personally, as an adventure seeker and extreme extrovert, I feel pressure to constantly maintain a state of pure energy, happiness and enthusiasm. After the “honeymoon phase” of college wore off, I was faced with extreme homesickness and to be honest, sometimes just sadness that I could not escape. I tend to fill my life with thrilling experiences to mask my emotions. However, when my emotions surfaced, the Lord told me to just sit with them instead of running away. I had to learn to allow myself to be homesick. I had to allow myself to have moments where I cry on the phone with my mom. Those feelings are so real and so valid! Even the happiest, most joyful people need to feel those raw emotions.
The Lord also completely turned my life upside down to cause me to hand over the reigns to Him. Every time I would try to steer, he would put his hand on mine and say Trust me, Jess. It began with the Lord telling me to change my major from Public Relations and Digital Media to Biblical and Theological studies. I acted in obedience despite my unanswered questions: what will I do with this degree? How will I find a career after I graduate or even how will I make money to support myself? Through the process of questioning my future, I remembered something my dad has always told my brothers and I: “Where the Lord guides, he also provides.” I am holding onto God’s faithfulness and the fact that He promises to give good gifts to his children -- and all the promises God makes, He keeps.
This semester has also been a season of prayer. I have seen the Lord answer so many prayers: for my heart to be healed from past pain, for the Lord to bring me life long friends, for a church community, for provision and clarity. The Lord has taught me about the conversation of prayer-- that it should be casual and constant. But also to remember that I am talking to the creator of the galaxies, the almighty King of the Universe.
This semester has also been a blast. I’ve explored cities in California from Malibu to San Diego along with some fantastic friends. I began an addiction to Philz and Dunkin iced coffee and began serving and singing at Hillsong Orange County. Everyday is an adventure at Biola, and I am beyond grateful to be here. All in all, this semester has been a wonderful foretelling of the next years at beautiful Biola.
Thank you for taking the time to hear my heart!
Photo by Ambitious Creative Co. - Rick Barrett on Unsplash