The college search is hard for many people. Some lucky duckers know what they want to do and where they want to do it, only apply to that place, get accepted and attend. Others, like myself, have a vague sense of what they’d like to study and maybe a lead on a school they could be interested in. I thought that I’d like to study one of the liberal arts and I applied to eleven or twelve schools. Halfway through application season (January or so), I switched my intended major to music.
Some of my Christian friends have a strong sense of God’s will for their lives. Whether they use the phrase or not, you can tell they know—or at least think they know—which school God wants them to attend, what career God has prepared for them, etc. “God has a plan for you, and that is so beautiful and exciting!” This sort of language, although well-intended and true, confused me during my college search, and still does. The idea of ‘God’s plan’ wasn’t very comforting either, because I thought that it meant I had a one in twelve chance at choosing the Right School, and a similar chance at choosing the Right Major. There was a lot at stake and I didn’t want to screw my life up.
All right, close your eyes. Raise your hand if you think that sounds ridiculous and a little melodramatic. I see many hands in the air, belonging to agnostics, atheists, and believers alike. Oops, I raised my hand, too. Ok, hands down, hands down.
I still don’t understand the concept of God’s will, although I’ve learned that it involves a lot more freedom than I had previously thought. But I couldn’t see that in my senior year of high school. The fear that I could permanently remove myself from the Right Trajectory of Life added to my depression and anxiety, and was the cause of a couple panic attacks. I didn’t speak to anyone about this because I felt alone. Who would listen?
In February, I went to SPU for a couple nights’ stay.
I would attend SPU in the fall.
On one of the particularly nostalgic days leading up to the trip, I wrote this little essay.
The young man boarded the plan. And took some more pictures.
At SPU I found the home and community that I sought. My room was on the same floor that I had visited. It has the reputation for being the tightest guys’ floor on campus because there are only 18 of us. My roommate was a super chill musician from LA who can learn any instrument in two weeks. The violin teacher, who I hadn’t met before school started, is the best I could’ve asked for. The teachers in the honors’ program taught me some fundamental lessons on being human: friends help carry each others’ burdens; big questions often don’t have answers—but if they do, the answer probably has to do with love. Some of the friends I made did help carry me through my freshman year at SPU. It was a very difficult year, but it was undoubtedly the best year of my life.
God’s will? My dad made me listen to a sermon from my church back home in Michigan. In it, my pastor recognizes that many of us view God’s will as an impossibly thin path, easy to step out of. But it isn’t. He says that God’s will is a field for us to enjoy. I’m learning to enjoy the field.
In two weeks I’ll fly back to Seattle to participate in a leadership training week. I’ll be President of the Hill Hall council. We’ll have to prepare for various welcomings, traditions, and excursions. But I’m most excited to see my new old friends and to meet the group of incoming freshman. I want them to be punched in the gut the way I was. I want them to be embraced the way I was. And I want to return to Kerry Park, the place where my host took me on my visit and where I took most of my previewers, one of whom is coming to SPU and will live in the room next to me. What are the odds?