Dear Freshman Sharon,
You finally made it to college! I know this is all so new and pretty overwhelming, but get ready for the greatest, most challenging chapter in your story so far. You're about to meet some of the best friends you'll ever have, experience some pretty uncomfortable things, learn a crazy amount, and persevere in ways you never knew you needed to or could. You will be challenged to mature quickly as you experience life in a different community than what you've lived and grown up in. You get to develop who you are these next four years as you study, learn, and grow in God's truth. Each year of college is going to seem like the hardest one of your life, as each year will present its own unique challenges and struggles to work around. In saying that, enjoy every single year and every moment you're given in Dubuque. As I sit here reflecting back on my time at Emmaus, here is what I wish I knew the most coming in.
When it comes to academics:
Commit yourself to school. That is the real reason you are here. Some (okay, most) of the Bible classes you will be taking will be way over your head, but don't get discouraged. We all have to start somewhere! Life isn't about what your GPA ends up being, and Jesus isn't going to love you based on how many A's you get. I just want you to know that as soon as you relax about academics, you're going to learn a lot more and get better grades because of it. So learn as much as you can while you're here and enjoy it! You only get a few years to be taught every day by some incredible teachers before you have to be out in the "real world", where you learn on your own.
When it comes to basketball:
Enjoy every single game, every practice, and every day you're given to play the sport you love. You're about to miss way more of those than you could ever imagine. 31 games, who knows how many practices, and 333 days later, you'll be able to play again (sort of). It sounds funny to hear, but you'd even take a hard day of conditioning if that just means you can be on the court running again. In saying that though, God works in every situation. You're going to make new friends you never expected, learn to be a lot more patient with others, and have the best support group in the team that's been brought together. I want to tell you not to go up for that layup, not to come back too early; but experiencing a major injury has been a pivotal part of shaping who I am today. :)
When it comes to who you are:
No matter what you do or how hard you try, there will always be someone who disagrees with you. Don't let negativity from others get you down, but learn what you can and grow. Something that is going to be extremely hard for you is learning to let go of other people's opinions so you can live the life God has set before you. When it comes down to it, living for Christ matters so much more than focusing on other's opinions. When you have your eyes set on Him, you can live without shame. You have good friends, and God is going to give you exactly who you need to be close to. They'll see your best and worst sides (hopefully more on the better side), but they'll still love you through each situation and that's what's important.
As I start looking towards finishing this year and what life will look like after college, here is my advice for both of us. I never truly mastered this, so maybe I can figure it out now.
Find your worth in Christ. You'll learn very quickly each year you're here that your athleticism, grades, and anything else you could put your hope in do not matter. Let me say that again. Your athleticism, grades, and everything else Do. Not. Matter. Figuring out who you are in Christ is the most important thing for you to discover, and it's going to take a while.
Enjoy this year. It sounds crazy, but this is going to be your easiest and most laid back year. I'm so excited for how much you're about to grow. If I were to come find you in good old room 3127, I truly don't think you would recognize me. No matter what happens, and trust me, a lot is going to happen these next few years, trust God's guidance. You weren't planning on coming here...you didn't even know Emmaus existed until six months before you came. So get excited, this is one of the coolest adventures you're about to embark on!