Dear College Senior

Let’s pretend we’re getting coffee together and you order your usual and I opt for the cookie the size of my head.

I ask you about your day, week. How your last semester of college classes are going. If you’re sleeping, eating, binge-watching Parks and Rec for the 11th time through. You have a lot piled high on your plate, and I’m not talking about food.

But I know it’s not necessarily the present that’s weighing on you—it’s what’s coming next.

You have more questions than answers. You’re at that part of that famous poem* where two roads diverged in the woods and you’re figuring out what to do next.

If you were a bird, I’d tell you to soar. But you’re a human, so use your two legs and leap. Hop. Somersault. Whip and nae nae if you have to. Just move forward in faith.

But in what direction will I leap?

The only thing more frustrating than the unknown is craving a Chick-fil-a milkshake on a Sunday. Just be careful not to lean into the fear—or else you’ll be stuck standing still and probably craving a Chick-fil-a milkshake (my bad). Instead, lean into God’s 20/20 foresight, not your 20/20 hindsight. This means you have to remain active—applying to jobs, pursuing connections, casting your net wide—and allowing God to direct your path from there (Proverbs 3:5-6).

But… but what if I make a mistake?

Don’t worry, you will. Lots of them. Girl Scouts honor on a truck-load of Thin Mints. Just remember: God is resourceful. Nothing is ever wasted when we turn to God and ask Him to redeem all of our experiences for His glory (Romans 8:28). You may miss out on a few blessings that come from being obedient to His calling, but you aren’t powerful enough to ruin the plans of our all powerful God.

But what if God takes me somewhere I wasn’t expecting?

You may not get that “perfect” job, or get into the “right” grad school, or get married according to your five-year plan. You may still be eating Ramen for dinner and have more zeros after the decimal point than before on your paycheck. But you’re not a failure if you fail to meet your own expectations. I believe God has a way of working through stepping-stones. You never know where a job, a connection, or an experience may lead you to: new-found passions, new career paths, new places and social communities. But the only way you’ll be able to see your life this way is if you let go of your own ideas for your future and trust God’s journey for you. He will orchestrate each stepping-stone and trust me—it’ll be better than you expected.

So what should I expect?

Expect to keep learning. Learn to be intentional in developing friendships when your peers don’t live in the dorm room next to you anymore. Learn contentment when your life isn’t what you wanted but God has given you everything you need in Him. Learn that your identity is not found in your job or the square footage of your apartment or your marital status. Learn that saying “no” is not a sign of weakness, but that it is better to focus on a few “best” things instead of a lot of “good” things. Learn independence. Learn more about yourself. Learn about this mysterious thing called a “credit score.” Learn the promises God has for you—memorize them, meditate on them, crochet them onto a pillow. Learn to crochet.

And expect God to show up in new ways in your life after college that you haven’t seen yet. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness, and streams in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19).

Learn to keep an open heart to see the new ways God is going to work in your life because now is not the time to worry, now is the time to get excited. Just remember, if you can sleep in until 2:00 PM on a Saturday, you can do this. You can face that place in the woods with the two diverging roads with joyful anticipation and faith.

So let’s pretend it’s a few years from now and we’re getting coffee together. You order your usual and I opt to split the cookie the size of my head with you because my doctor told me I’m supposed to be eating less sugar and more vegetables but 50% of a cookie is better than 100% —you know, math. I ask you about your life, job, relationships. I ask you to reflect on how God navigated your path since you moved that tassel from right to left on that cardboard hat of yours.

I pray you’ll be able to smile and tell me about a conversation you had recently with a college senior where you told them the only thing more frustrating than the unknown is never fully embracing it. So you told them to go—in faith—arms wide, heart open, and leap.

* “The Road Not Taken” Robert Frost