Every year on the last day of classes, IV has this thing called Fourth Year Share. That’s exactly what happens. Fourth years share what they’-ve learned from their college experience. Due to a beautiful concert my first year, I didn’t get to attend that fourth year share and thus did not collect any material from that experience. However, these last two years I have attended and have written notes on what people have shared. I am not going to share what fourth years have said but I will give the gist of it and I hope it will be of some help to all of you.
“Place your identity in Christ alone. Don’t let shame control you. Don’t let it hide you from community. Ask for help. Remember that love covers a multitude of sins.”
Fear and shame will keep up quiet and locked up in our own emotions and experiences if we let them. This is a good reminder that we should be in control, not our emotions.
“It’s okay to not be okay. It’s ok to cry and have friends see you cry. It’s ok to change. Plans don’t always work out.”
It’s okay to change. I love that. I feel like it’s so easy to get to college and feel like you have to conform to the dreams of your first year self. But college is so illuminating and transformational. The fourth years version of us can’t fit in the box the first years version of we made.
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“Remember the importance of welcoming someone! Put yourself aside and look to others!”
We all know that welcoming person who invited us to a party or to a gathering with friends. It feels good to be invited, and it’s an important reminder that we all have the power and ability to be someone who welcomes others in and makes them feel more comfortable and at home.
“Give thanks to God even in the things that stress you out. Love your peers because they’re in the same boat. Love by setting an example.”
Gratitude. It’s hardest to feel for it when you are having a rough time. And believe me, college will have you pulling all nighters at the worst time. But even in what seems like the worst of times, you can find a little light to keep you going. It might be as small as your favorite song or getting a hug from a friend. It’s worth feeling thankful for.
It can be so hard to forget that everyone else around you is going through the same thing – making friends, struggling in classes, working towards leadership in different clubs – but you can do your best to be kind and show love to everyone around you, from your classmate to a dining hall worker.
“Read Hebrews. Encourage one another daily. The most powerful moments are when people are gathered. Vulnerability will always be worth pursuing.”
There’s a Spurgeon quote that goes like “Read many books but live in the Bible” and that’s what this first point refers to. Truly, when people are gathered together, there’s a sense of community and belonging and it is powerful. As someone who is scared of being vulnerable, that last point encourages me – it’s worth being open and sharing.
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“It’s ok to be angry at God. It’s ok to depend on friends. Suffering is not the end. Being a leader doesn’t mean being perfect.”
I feel like there are plenty of people who perceive church as a place to conform to beliefs but the church is a group of people who you can come to and share your feelings with, especially your feelings about God. Especially being a leader in a religious community – for some reason, that’s synonymous with needing to have a perfect faith all of the time or the need to feel the “right” feelings towards God. But that’s not true at all.
“Seek discomfort to grow closer to God. Let God nudge you away from closer for greater reasons.”
In a perfect world, we would live without pain. But in reality we live in a world with pain and we spend a lot of time trying to run away from pain. Pain can be a great pull towards God and growing in your faith.
“Taco Bell has happy hour. Food is a great way to connect with people.”
I love this point! In my first year, our large group coordinator for IV coined this term “table fellowship.” It means that around a table, around a meal, that’s where connection happens. It’s when we’re invitational and make people comfortable where we can be vulnerable and grow together. Food is such a great connector.
“Be grounded and loving.”
This one is as simple as it is.
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“It’s okay to feel weird and uncomfortable. This community is helping you find friendships and guide you on a path you may never know when you’d go.”
When you enter something new, it’s natural to feel uncomfortable. But in college, when everyone looks like they have got it together, it can make you feel bad if you feel weird and no one around you seems to. Meeting new people can change the trajectory of your life. That may sound extreme, but someone could introduce you to a new interest or passion and change your career. There’s so many opportunities that have occurred just because you met someone at a particular time.
“Plant the seeds and God will water them for growth. Keep looking for the little things God is asking us to do.”
I love gardening analogies. We spend so much time trying to force things to happen – jobs opportunities, friendships – but we should let things happen naturally. If we’re being guided to nurture something, that’s when we should step in but there’s value in letting things grow on their own.
“Don’t let your books get in the way of your education.”
I love this one!!! I sincerely believe I’ve learned so much more outside of the classroom than inside of it. And I’m a college student. Look – you can spend so much time trying to get straight A’s but you’d be missing out on adventuring with friends and learning about the people that will be in your network. You’d be missing out on connecting with professors and administrators that have the potential to shape the trajectory of your career. Never let your books get in the way of taking opportunities to grow and learn about the world around you.
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“Remember nothing is guaranteed. Don’t ever close yourself off to making new friends. The length of a relationship does not define intimacy.”
College is a space where friendships are more fluid especially because your life shifts every semester. I couldn’t imagine closing myself to friendships as an extrovert. But for all the introverts out there, do yourself a favor – be open to the idea of meeting new people. You don’t necessarily need to put yourself out there, but realize you can’t ever have too many friends.
I hope you found some enjoyment in this post, friends and gained some wisdom from fourth years!