We as young people are in a dangerous time of our lives. We are equipped with the belief that we are invincible. Us millennials so desperately want to carry ourselves on our own. Independence is the most sought after idea for us, seeing as how we are “adults” after turning 18. We want everything that we can get, and we want to be well-liked and appreciated. Ambition is great, if used in moderation. Work hard, get good grades, and go for your goals.
You then realize that all of your hard work, just after you have gained recognition and praise for it will dissolve like wind. Your heart will harden, and you will either twice as hard to get this attention back or resist all help in getting back on track. For instance, you’ve worked on a project all semester to struggle and pull all-nighters and practically live in the library. Then that one night comes when you type the last word and send it in five minutes before midnight. You did it. You text your roommates and best friend, who are less caring than you thought. You present your topic the next day in class and receive a B+. Are you serious? I worked so hard… That’s it; it’s time for revenge. You are faced with the choices of either hard-heading your way through the rest of the semester and appearing a show-off or withdrawing into the dusty library shelves and letting your grades drop, letting your professor and friends wonder what’s wrong with you. Either option will consume you in filthy pride that can easily be disguised as stress or worry or anger.
Friends, this is so dangerous.
There will come a time when this is the easiest option: to believe that you have either failed so hard that you can’t trust yourself or vice versa. Realize that this pride can only carry you so far. Open your eyes and look up.
Stubbornness and pride are two very painful sins that I have dealt with since I could remember. My walk in faith has struggled from it. I was at a point not long after I turned 18 that I wanted to be on my very own. I couldn’t wait to get out of community college and go to university. Consequently, my youth deceived me; I was too naive and inexperienced in the “real world” to believe I had a place in a community of people with immense street smarts. I wish that I would have kept Psalm 118:8 in handy, knowing that “it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”
I felt like a wildflower in a field of mangled weeds. I wanted so bad to be rugged and appear like I knew what I was doing; so I asked those around me for help, only to reach dead ends with these people and keep pushing until I burned bridge after bridge. Proverbs 12:26 confirms that ”the righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
It was a scary time. I felt alone. I was scared, hurt on the outside and inside, looking for refuge. I knew better than to let myself dig into a deep hole of doubt and pride, yet I thought I could endure the worst. I spent an entire year straying from the Lord, and I have transferred schools and jobs because of it.
After spending maybe six months dabbling in deceitful self-reliance, I was so damaged. I wanted nothing more than to leave that school and start fresh. In retrospect, Matthew 11:28 lets me understand that I should have sought my refuge in the Lord. I carried a very heavy burden on my shoulders that I shouldn’t have had to bear alone, if at all. My shameful stubbornness kept me from loving and growing. This bitter past is still hard to recover from. Proverbs 28:26 is a heavy dose of truth, stating that “those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.” The most confusing yet hopeful verse for me to work on is Hebrews 10:14, explaining that when Jesus took our burdens and shame and sinfulness to the cross on his own back, the holy father looked upon his earthly children in awe; He holds us in the same regard as His holy son, Jesus Christ. As we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, our walk with Christ is the process of us “being made holy.”
I was able to reflect on the previous passage by joining a mentorship discipleship program, which helped me create relationships with upperclassmen. Participating in musical productions and finding companionship within my close-knit degree program of music education helped me understand that I can find community that is deep-rooted in the Gospel. DBU is a powerful epicenter for Christ, “for where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).
God placed me in communities where I could have never imagined myself to even walk past. As I allowed myself to break out of my comfort zone, I found friendships in the most unique, tender-hearted, godly people. I have been able to confide in a few upperclassmen that I came to DBU feeling so inadequate and out of place; I felt filthy. They helped me understand that we are all filthy; humans are not perfect. We can never be Jesus, but “those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed” (Psalm 34:5 ESV). While I am forgiven by my father, I am still in the process of becoming who He wants me to be. Philippians 1:6 confirms my well-established confidence that “he who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
We all grow as a unit while understanding that humility is a lifelong journey. We help each other grow while flipping through textbooks in the living rooms of each other’s apartments. We revel in life’s sweetest moments when we join in worship in chapel or in a long rehearsal that garners great success or even grabbing a milkshake after class and talking about life. There is also the heartbreaking yet inevitable reality of bearing your soul to these Godly individuals, as he uses their hearts to soften mine. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). These such prayers have instilled in me a form of confidence that I cannot describe plainly; they are prayers that my parents and family have longed for me to know the answers to, as I struggled to find such generosity in spirit during my first year of college. John 7:24 advises to “not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
What a bittersweet sensation to know I am cared for while being challenged. This is healthy. This is warm and loving. This is the kind of trust you must discover in people only if they are of the right heart and spirit.
Friends, realize that you may be in a situation that is unsteady for you. God will send you the right people of heart to pray for you and take care of you, as he is using them as vessels to reveal to you his truth. He leads you to foster relationships with these people, as “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).
Above all, if you will listen to him, he tells you, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). You are not alone in your struggles; be smart and humble with how you treat your heart.