Before You Leave for College

Dear High School Grad,

You did it! After thirteen long, hard years of discipline and study, you’ve crossed the finish line and proudly turned your tassel. Way to go!

While I couldn’t be more thrilled for you to be done with ACTs and SATs, my suspicion is that there’s a slight angst within you about what’s to come. A new college campus, a new job, moving away from family—whatever it is, big changes are about to happen, and you will experience a whole range of emotions, as numerous as that stack of thank-you notes you have left to write.

Although I missed your graduation ceremony and I can’t be there to wish you well as you head into your next phase of life, there are a few things I’d want to share with you if I were. So grab a cup of coffee (or tea, if you prefer), and let’s chat about life after graduation.

1. Keep a steady diet.

Watching what you eat at the school cafeteria is great advice for avoiding “the freshman fifteen.” But that’s not the only kind of diet to be aware of. It’s easy to let old commitments and priorities slide to make way for the new—including time in the Word. But whatever you do, don’t forsake feasting on the promises of God. In this Book are words of life and hope and comfort for any situation you will face (2 Tim. 2:16–7). God has provided us with a meal plan for a whole buffet of nutritious, wholesome food for our souls. Don’t waste this free gift from the Father.

2. Keep a quiet heart.

If you’re familiar with the late Elisabeth Elliot, you know that this was her way of saying it’s time to tune out the world and in humility turn to God. Soon you will meet new people, experience new opportunities, and encounter new difficulties.

You may be tempted to get caught up with the world’s way of thinking, talking, or partying. Don’t let your confidence in your past accomplishments drown out the recognition of your current need for God. Follow in the path of the Savior who didn’t spend His youth boasting in skills, brains, or good looks, but instead “emptied himself,” “humbled himself,” and was obedient to the Father in all things, “even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:5–8).

3. Remember why you’re here.

Whether you admit to senioritis or not, for the last year everything’s been all about you. (Okay, let’s be real. In our minds, life is always about “me.”) Without belittling what you just accomplished, let me remind you that your purpose in life goes well beyond good grades and scholarships, tassels and diplomas. God lovingly formed and fashioned you with a purpose (Ps. 139:13–14). He created you uniquely as His image-bearer for a reason—to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. So leave senioritis behind and live with this mantra: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

4. Remember whose you are.

One day soon you’ll wake up and wonder what happened, where all your friends went, and how long before you’re back home eating your mom’s biscuits and rolling your eyes at your dad’s corny jokes. All that was familiar was stripped from you overnight, leaving you with doubts and fears. Feelings of insecurity and loneliness are mounting faster than you can microwave a bowl of ramen noodles. Where are you going to turn? What will help you find your way?

Take comfort in the fact that, however alone you feel, Jesus has not for one second left you, but in fact is always there to comfort and strengthen you (Isa. 41:10.) Ephesians 1 gives us this list of declarations—characteristics of God’s children as He describes us:

  • Blessed (v. 3).
  • Chosen and made blameless (v. 4).
  • Adopted (v. 5).
  • Redeemed and forgiven (v. 7).
  • Lavished with grace (v. 8).
  • United to Christ (v. 10).
  • Heirs with Christ (v. 11).
  • Sealed with the Holy Spirit (v. 13).

Remember these declarations when you feel scared, lonely, or discouraged. Remember these declarations when you feel strong, bold, or confident. Remember these declarations when you feel tempted, beaten, or vulnerable. They never expire or go out of style. They’re always yours.

As you launch into this next season of life with its joys and hardships, ask the Lord to satisfy you with His Word, to keep you humble and teachable, to give you an eternal perspective, and to overwhelm you with His love. I’ll be watching and praying and cheering you on!


A sister in Christ

About Author

Leanna Shepard

Leanna worked on staff with Revive Our Hearts from 2014 to 2019. She loves a cup of hot tea with a good book, experimenting in the kitchen with a new recipe, and cheering for the St. Louis Cardinals.

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