At the midpoint of my college career, I overlooked a great need of change. During the first few years of undergraduate school, I had surrounded myself with friends who influenced me in a way that seemed completely healthy. It took me two years to realize it was not healthy at all. They had instilled in me the desire to break rules and feel no remorse along the way. I chose to conform to a lifestyle because it seemed different and more exciting than anything I had ever known.
Attending a small Christian college made it easy to take a negative stance on the administration. With the hefty amount of rules set in place, I felt as though I had all authoritative eyes on me. I viewed my professors and resident assistants as my babysitters who all watched and waited for me to slip up so I could be punished. As much as I loved breaking rules, I hated getting into trouble.
After those two years, I decided I would transfer to a public university where I would find more freedom. After all, that is what my friends were doing, and I could not imagine being left behind at private school. The people I cared about most were dragging me along with them. While they were not necessarily leading me away from God, they were indeed pulling me away from the place where I would soon find renewal.
Due to financial ties, I was forced to stay at the tiny private college for the remainder of my time in undergraduate school. God works in mysterious ways.
I started making new friends, since most of mine had graduated or transferred. I surrounded myself with good people who actually cared about me and my hopes and dreams. These new friends never for a second pressured me to be anything more or less than myself. I began to appreciate my small school and embrace the environment that was so nurturing to my faith. I was renewed.
I cannot help but wax nostalgic at times about my rebellious stage. That rough time in my life was necessary for me to realize it was not what I wanted permanently. Once I stepped through the threshold of a new chapter in my life, I quickly realized I was ready for something new and refreshing that would uplift my faith.
I learned that God provides free will for us to grow through our mistakes. I learned that you cannot find renewal until you are ready. But what does it mean to be ready?
For me, “being ready” for renewal meant being open and willing to change without anxiety. It required letting go of the past, but not forgetting my journey. Most importantly, it meant looking forward to the promise of being made better and stronger through the renewal that God brings.
Rebecca McLemore is a 2016 graduate of Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois. Her bachelor’s degree is in business management, and she has a heart for economic empowerment through servanthood.
- How can Christians find daily renewal?
- How does readiness connect to free will?