Farewell, Freshman Year

I’m home in Brightfield for the summer. Freshman year is over, and it is high time to put down the 9th edition of Turabian and get back into blogging. Here are the “big things” that have happened during the past several months.

Be sure to read the last section!

Spring Break Missions Trip

The name was highly deceiving–it was neither springlike nor less busy–but I am very glad I stuck around Hillsdale for this local missions trip. Our activities included mall evangelism, painting at the pregnancy center, playing with special needs kids, shoveling stone for Crossroads Farms (a rural youth group), and cleaning out a hoarder home. Our work was intentionally interspersed with times of teaching and reflection, which encouraged me to learn to balance service and sabbath. I came away from the trip with a new awareness of the many needs just outside campus. It impressed upon me just how much I had been letting fear, pride, and passivity dictate my life and how only Christ offers the rest from which I can to reach out to others.

Moving Churches

After a great deal of prayer, deliberation, and counsel, I decided to leave the congregation where I had been attending since the first week of school. I have since resettled in a church body where I am encouraged to persevere with faith in Christ, rely on Scripture, be accountable to my brothers and sisters, and to serve for the glory of God.

Part of my personality is to justify everything and try to be above reproach. When I recognize my mistakes, I want to be able to identify how I learned from them or how they worked towards the greater good. Reflecting on the time I spent at my first church, I ask myself: What did I do wrong? Were all those months wasted? In this case, I really cannot answer either question. Back in the first weeks of college, I had no reason to suspect that I would end up leaving. Now, it’s hard to understand why the Lord let me spend so much time there, knowing the pain it would cause me to tear up my roots. I am confident that I made the right decision, but it’s hard not to be able to see the bigger picture.

The Jackson Paper 

This is definitely the best paper I have ever written. It had better be after meticulous rewrites, five office hours, two research appointments, and several (almost) all-nighters! Still, I doubt it will earn me more than a B. I brought it to the last day of class, neatly packaged with my hopes and dreams, and placed it on Dr. Jackson’s desk.

“No,” he said, “Keep it and suffer until I tell you to turn it in.” From my seat, I watched as several students fell prey to the same mistake. Then, when we were all assembled, he proceeded to give us his end of the year speech:

“I want you to know that when you all turned your first draft a month or so ago, it was the same garbage you turn in to every professor on this campus,” he began, “Actually, that’s a lie. It was better than what you usually turn in because you all fear me.”

He paused to take a long sip from his Student Tears mug.

“The purpose of this class was to teach you how to identify your own garbage, then put in the blood, sweat, and tears to make it worth reading. I’m not saying you will do this for every class. That would be impractical. And I’m not telling you to stop procrastinating. After all, this very afternoon I will need to send out another email telling my editor that I need more time to revise, and by revise I mean write the first draft. What I want you to do is procrastinate effectively. Find that sweet spot that makes you write like there’s no tomorrow, but still gives you time to ruthlessly tear your writing to pieces. Apply that type of procrastination to all the papers you care about. You may all be intelligent, but I’m efficient. Alright, funnel them forward.”

Ever since Dr. Jackson had ridiculed the homeschooled race for not knowing how to turn in a neat stack of papers, my class had funneled assignments like clockwork. This time, I think we broke our 10-second record.

“You know, English class just won’t be the same without a bearded man verbally abusing me at the start of every lecture,” sighed one of my fellow students. We all nodded mournfully.

Dr. Jackson for the win, ladies and gentlemen.

Dropping a Major 

Due in part to the stories above, I have recently undeclared my English major. I believe the Lord is urging me towards full-time missions (most likely in the Dominican Republic), and I do not want my college years to be completely consumed by academic classes, as it was this past semester. This next school year, I am planning to begin an Education minor to better prepare me for teaching, to work more on-campus to prevent the accumulation of student debt, and to keep loving my Spanish major. But most importantly, I want to become a better steward of my time. I want to make time with the Lord my first priority, and to not replace personal Bible study for corporate worship, as good as that may be. I also want to further invest in the ministries I have encountered on-campus and in the community. Cutting back on commitments could quickly turn into adding more busyness if I’m not careful, so I’m praying for the wisdom to chose those commitments which will best prepare me for whatever the Lord calls me to.

Undeclaring was a very humbling experience for me. I was proud of being a freshmen with a solid plan. I was going to prove everyone wrong who said I should not pick a major so quickly. I would study without burning out, have an amazing social life, attract all the scholarships, and essentially conquer the academic world. Now here I am, embracing uncertainty, trusting God for each next step, and focusing on pleasing God, not impressing Dr. Jackson.

“I think you’re making a mistake, but I’ll sign so you can drop the major. If you repent of your ways, shoot me an email.”


5 thoughts on “Farewell, Freshman Year

  1. This was wonderful to read! Somehow I started following your blog a while ago without realizing we go to the same college? I recognized a lot of the people in the photo you shared of your missions trip! So fun to read about Hillsdale from another perspective. Best of luck with your summer & I hope to run into you on campus sometime!


  2. This was great to read! Somehow I stumbled upon and started following your blog a while ago without realizing that we go to the same college. It’s fun to hear about Hillsdale from a different perspective. Have a wonderful summer & I hope to see you on campus sometime!


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