When it’s back-to-school, life changes quickly. I sat down with Hailey England, a sophomore Life Group Leader, to discuss how to stay focused on God in this transition season.
The beginning of the school year is a drastic change. Suddenly, all the time you had to sunbathe by the pool is gone, and now there is lots of work to be done. This can be especially overwhelming when you’re in college, whether you’re a freshman, transfer, or returning student. The responsibilities and commitments we make towards our schooling, jobs, relationships, and extracurriculars are a lot to take in at once.
The one thing we cannot push aside, however, is our relationship with God. Sadly, this happens more often than we intend; we think if we just don’t pick up our Bible or pray today, we’ll get around to it tomorrow. These common actions ultimately weaken the relationship that we have with God and places earthly agendas over the heavenly ones, passing over the chance to be used by God for His glory. I sat down with sophomore Life Group leader (LGL), Hailey England, to see what advice she could give students during this back-to-school season.
I first asked Hailey a little bit about herself and how she decided to become a LGL. It wasn’t something she ever saw herself doing but felt God calling her to the task. She stated, “I kept praying about it and felt like the Lord wanted me to stretch myself.” The Lord laid on her heart a vision for her hall. “I am super passionate about community because it changed my life,” she said, “I want this to be the kind of place where people come and experience that kind of love and acceptance of God.”
Going into a new season of life, you may not know what God’s plans, but by keeping a steady, prayerful relationship with God and surrounding yourself with other people who show the love of Christ, His path will become clearer. Don’t fret about having all the answers for your year on day one; God will reveal Himself to you as long as you keep seeking what He has in store for you.
Discouragement is so easy to get caught up in, and it can be hard to believe that God is good enough to have a plan for us. I asked Hailey about her message on Jeremiah 29:11 from Life Group this past week. She told me, “When I read it, I immediately thought of the nature of God. It’s easy for us to hear that God has good plans and brush it to the side—[to think] that’s for other people.” Hailey continued to talk about how incorrect that thought process because of how contradictory that is to the essence of God’s good nature. “God does have good plans for me because of his nature. He is always good.”
Hailey encourages students to not be afraid of their emotions if they do feel discouragement during the transition into college. “Emotions are good, and God isn’t afraid of emotions.” She encourages these emotions to be brought to God because He already knows what is in our hearts, though she does warn students against closing yourself off from God because of an emotion. “Closing yourself off limits Him.”
There are some key things to remember for both new and returning students as they start off this new year at Regent. For new students, Hailey advises “[being] open to the Holy Spirit and how He wants to move.” As a freshman last year, she stated that, “A lot of what I thought and knew was changed.” If this is your first time at Regent, remember that having a heart willing to do and go where God wants you to will not only make this transition easier than you ever would’ve thought, but God will open all kinds of new doors for your life that you could’ve never imagined just a year ago.
As a first time returning student, Hailey described her own experience about coming back to college after her freshman year. “Something that I’m already learning is that I can’t expect this year to look like last year.” She feels assured though because “He promises in His Word that we go from glory to glory.” For returners, as I myself am also finding out, this year is going to be different than the last one, and that’s okay. God still has big plans for each and every one of us, we must simply continue to pursue Him faithfully, making sure we don’t block out the voice of our Father so that we can rather draw closer to Him. Hailey also mentioned that in times when things are stressful and it is hard to know that God is good, it helps to repeatedly remind yourself of the goodness and love he has for you. “[I] speak it until my spirit and soul agrees with it.” In a new season of life, sometimes we will have to convince ourselves of the things we already know to be true in order to put the positivity and light of the Lord back into our hearts.
Remembering to set God as priority number one—to read the Bible, to pray, to go to church, to surround yourself with other believers will be key going into this new school year. If you’re a new Christian, make sure to find people who can guide you along this new and exciting journey. No matter how we feel or what the work load is like, spending some time with God will make all the difference. “I feel like the whole Regent community is being invited into a new perspective of God,” Hailey said, “He’s inviting all of us to know Him in a way that we haven’t before.” God has great plans for Regent this year, we just have to follow Him and listen closely for what He calls us to.
Abby Trivett is a contributor to the Daily Runner.