Out There and Back Again [guest post]

Prepare to be amazed: you’re about to read some of the great things I’ve accomplished since I graduated almost a year ago.

I wish I could start out my first guest Logic article like that.

I wish I had lots of exciting tales of the real world to share with you. I wish I could tell you that life after high school is great, and not as scary as everyone says, and that you’ll have it all figured out as soon as you begin your future plans. But unfortunately, that’s not true.

When you’re in high school, it’s easy to tell yourself that you know what the real world is like, that you’ll have no trouble adjusting to it because you feel so ready for it. But the truth is, you have no idea what it’s like out there.

Out There is new and big and fast-paced, and it doesn’t stop to explain life to an 18-year-old private schooler. Out There is college lectures that don’t always make sense and assignments that seem pointless and take too much time. Out There is working a part-time job that doesn’t pay enough while trying to devote the necessary time to school and family and God.

Out There is scary.

But it doesn’t have to be as scary for you as it was for me. I hope that by sharing my post-high school experience I can remind you of some valuable life lessons I’ve had to learn the hard way.

Going into senior year, I was as strong in my faith as I could have been. I thought I

Me and my friend Leah Fabian on the night of graduation. Oh, the innocence.

knew exactly what Out There was like. Even though I was looking at secular colleges, I had no doubt in my mind that I would remain devoted to my walk with Christ throughout my college years.

But life took a different turn for me. After I was accepted to Penn State, I received an offer to take summer classes through their accelerated learning program at the Berks campus. This seemed exciting at first, but because of the length and difficulty of the classes I dreaded attending them from the first week.

Throughout that busy and stressful summer, I began to feel alone. Both my parents were working full-time which required me to attend big, scary events like New Student Orientation by myself, while all the other students were accompanied by a parent. I found out very quickly what it meant to be a college student and an independent adult.

I found myself dreading college instead of looking forward to all the opportunities it held for me. I was busy, my family was busy, and so many new and not-so-exciting things were happening at once that I quickly lost sight of the strong, dedicated person I was just a month or two previously. I began to lose myself as a person and as a child of God.

Hard at work perfecting the mirror selfie at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet.

I spent most of my time on campus and at work, and the things that should have been my real priorities, like time with God and my family, took a backseat. I saw myself losing my relationship with God, but for some reason I didn’t feel like saving it. I asked myself everyday why I should spend valuable time reading a Bible passage that I didn’t really understand and praying to a God who didn’t seem to be working in my life.

These doubts were so foreign to me, someone who grew up in a Christian home, and I knew that deep down I didn’t want to walk away from my faith completely. But I still couldn’t find the desire to regain my relationship with God.

I felt as if I was at a standstill in my faith, but I knew that I didn’t want to lose it completely. So I became more intentional with the people I spent time with. I made sure to hang out with friends who built me up and encouraged my faith, and even though I wasn’t actively seeking God, He made Himself known to me through some of my closest friends. Just by surrounding myself with other Christians, I became more positive about my own relationship with God.

Being a typical over-zealous Penn State student at Hillside Church’s Trunk or Treat in October.

But I still struggled with the fact that I wasn’t regularly devoting time to God like I had done for so many years. I began to worry that not only was I losing my faith, but that I was also running out of time to save it. I was constantly reminded of the fact that we’re not promised tomorrow, and that making peace with God should be the most important thing in my life; but instead of motivating me, it just made me worry more. I still had no urge to make peace with God, and it scared me.

Then I saw a beautiful film called Miracles from Heaven. It’s the true story of a little girl named Anna who suffered from intestinal failure but through her faith was healed. In the movie, Anna was speaking with her mom about some friends who had rejected Christ when Anna tried to share her faith with them. Her mom, Christy, was discouraged, but Anna remained hopeful. “Not everyone’s going to believe, but that’s okay,” Anna said. “They’ll get there when they get there.”

Her words made me realize that even though I was still struggling to save my faith, God would never give up on me. Being a Christian is about growing and improving and committing your life to God on a daily basis, even when it feels like life is too much to handle. There’s no rush in understanding the future, or even God Himself. Everything is in His time, in His hands, and we don’t have to worry about any of it.

Since seeing the movie, I’ve worked on putting God in the center of my busy schedule. In addition to my personal devotions, I started a Bible study with some of my closest friends so we can all grow in our faith together. I still don’t feel the same closeness with Him as I did a year ago, but I know that if I keep working at it I will get to that place again, and move beyond it. I will keep growing, keep improving, keep committing. And there’s no rush.

“My soul is quiet and waits for God alone. My hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and the One Who saves me. He is my strong place. I will not be shaken.”
– Psalm 62:5-6 (NLV)

About Sarah Gemmell

I like good books, running, and Netflix.

View all posts by Sarah Gemmell →

3 Comments on “Out There and Back Again [guest post]”

  1. What a nice surprise to hear how you are doing. I’m proud of you for trying to keep it all in balance. That freshman year is so hard.

  2. Thanks for being so transparent, Sarah. So wise to spend time with those who are also wanting to follow God, even if it’s not perfectly. Keep it going! God’s grace!

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