I am an upperclassman.

How strange!

I have only lived on campus for a year, and now I only have another year after this one until I graduate. We have been forced to move on from the grief of our not-so-normal senior year of high school and first year of college. Enough time has passed for people to stop telling us how sorry they are that we never got to graduate or have a typical college experience.

Nothing has been typical for the past two years, yet through it all the Lord has held my hand and bestowed upon me His mighty grace. I have to remind myself that I was destined to live in this moment. This very moment. Not when things get back to normal (have things? maybe.) or when everything is resolved in our lives. The truth is that every season of our lives is infused with inexplicable joy and grief. We are all walking around with a million things to be grateful for, and a million complaints about how things could be better.

So as you move into your dorm, apartment, or house this week, I want to encourage you that it doesn’t have to be just exciting and fun. It can also be bittersweet and dreadful. I am sure you have unresolved conflicts with friends and are hoping to avoid that person. I am sure you are not looking forward to faking it when you’re not okay, or the mounds of homework that you’ll have in less than a week. That’s okay. The paradox is completely human and completely normal. You can be thrilled about using the new school supplies you bought, while also being full of dread at the thought of eating at the caf every day because you have social anxiety. It’s all welcome here. We are right with you, and more importantly, so is the Holy Spirit.

When you feel that gut-level anxiety hit when you realize you forgot your towel in the communal showers, or you go to a campus event alone, He is fully present. He is waiting for you to reach out and realize your true dependency on Him.

College may be four great years, but I certainly hope that the best is yet to come. These years are the most transformative, stretching, and challenging. It is the first real step into adulthood. It can be both terrifying and exhilarating.

Lean into the paradox of it all.