“Change. ” That’s quite a daunting word, if you ask me. A lot of us don’t like change, especially when it seems like the world around us is set just the way we want it to be. Sometimes, change is necessary. As you grow, the world surrounding you is growing as well. Keeping the same mainstream lifestyle can seem a bit outdated, don’t you think?
In life, we are not only meant to grow, but flourish. You’re probably thinking, “Those two words mean the same thing!” Ah, they are similar, but not quite the same.
By definition, the word, “grow” means,
“To undergo natural development by increasing in size and changing physically; progress to maturity. ”
The word, “flourish” means,
“To grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.”
Up until recently, I never realized that there was a difference between those two ideas. By the time you read this, I will be preparing to start a new journey in my life: college. This may be a journey that you are starting within the next few months or years. The one question I often get asked is, “Are you scared?” 99.99% of the time, I respond with great confidence, “No.” But if I am being completely honest with myself, I most definitely have fears.
I am most content with how I’ve grown in my faith throughout high school. I have become very involved in my faith community, something that holds a dear place in my heart. However, I fear that something so DIFFERENT and VIBRANT as college, may distort the idea of “faith” for me. This might be something different for you. You may be afraid of leaving your home, your city, your family, or your friends. Though I will miss all of those things, I am most afraid of being stranded from my faith.
I will never forget the time my parish hosted a visiting priest (I feel horrible for not remembering his name). This priest held a Q&A session for the youth at one of our youth nights, and I remember asking him (still being four years away from college), “How do you keep your faith in college?” I vividly remember his response, “You must take your faith and own it.”
“Own it? What does that even mean?” my fifteen year-old self thought. Over the years, I learned that there is only one person in charge of me: Me! In college, the “Real World” as they say, no one is going to be watching over me. No one is going to tell me to go to Mass on Sunday’s. No
one is going to tell me to read Scripture or pray the rosary. I have the free will to do it (or not to do it) all on my own.
As I realized this in high school, I did everything I could to build a firm foundation for my faith. Holding myself accountable, I continued to attend youth group weekly, I started going to Mass by myself, and I began to read Scripture as often as I could. I made my relationship with God a priority. Before I knew it, I had made my faith my own. It wasn’t anyone else’s responsibility to tell me what to do with it. It was mine, all mine.
Here I am, just weeks away from college. I no longer fear for my faith, for it is my own. I am eager to start a new life, in my home away from home. What is the purpose of growing, if you’re not going to flourish? What is the point of developing, if you’re not going to develop in a “healthy or vigorous” way? Don’t settle for a mediocre faith. God is eager to know you… so let Him know you. This new change in my life, college, is going to be OKAY, because change is OKAY!
Whether you are years or weeks away from college (or currently in college), I encourage you to seek the campus ministry on your campus. I’m positive that almost every campus has one. If yours doesn’t (bummer), find the nearest one off campus! Do so, whether you are far away from Christ or hold Him close to your heart. He will always be close to you, regardless.
Whatever you do, don’t stop searching for what will fully complete your heart in the end. God matters, and you matter to Him. He should matter to you because He created you. He knit you uniquely in your mother’s womb, and He knows exactly where He wants to take you in this crazy world of ours. He wants to show you. He wants to make Himself known to you. God matters, and you matter to Him.
Embrace change with an open heart. After all, it’s God’s work at hand.
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” ~ St. Augustine.
Faith > Fear.