To the Freshmen,
Welcome to Liberty University; we’re glad to have you; it’s a great school…and all that stuff. You’ve undoubtedly heard it all a number of times in the last few days, and it’s true. Liberty is an awesome institution and we’re blessed to have you here. But even amidst all of the welcome and love, you are likely experiencing some not-so-subtle undertones of fear and anxiety.
You just started your first year of college at the largest Christian university in the world. For many of you this is your first time being far from home.
It’s normal to feel nervous.
It’s normal to feel homesick.
And, yea, it’s even normal to feel scared.
You look around and see seasoned college veterans and upperclassman. You may feel intimidated. But remember, they were all freshmen at one time too, and they made it. You’re gonna make it too. The first week can be extra intimidating because you’re trying to deliver perfect first impressions, you’re looking at your course load, and as we all know, those syllabi can be daunting at first. But despite popular vernacular, first impressions don’t last. There is time to redeem yourself if you choke the first time you talk to a stranger. And you should just chill out with the syllabi, because the coursework will spread itself out.
Will I make friends? Will I fit in? Will I pass my classes? Freshman orientation is over and I STILL haven’t found my husband! You’re not special. I mean you are, but you’re not. That is, you’re not the only one who’s felt this anxiety. We’ve all been there. You’re gonna be just fine. Start giving up these insecurities and just roll with the routine. The longer you stress, the more time you’ve wasted when you could have been making those friends, finding your niche, knocking out those assignments, and pursuing your beloved.
But never lose sight of this truth: God knows your heart and he sees your fears. His grace is saturating the cracks of your insecurities.
Here are some tips to consider that will help you transition into this memorable and life-changing experience:
Set the pace now.
Start developing healthy habits, establishing a decision making process, and letting others know of these goals so they can keep you accountable. Set goals for yourself, but don’t look so far into the future that you trip on the present. Remember that the decisions you make now have implications on the future. Take time to look around. Don’t settle on the first thing you see. It’s normal to be set on a major at first, because at first you don’t know all of the options. But eventually, you’ll learn more about yourself and you’ll develop different passions. There’s no shame in changing your major.
Find a local coffee shop (may I recommend White Hart or The Muse). Find a hobbie shop, hiking spot or whatever fits your desires. There are many good churches in Lynchburg, but each one isn’t right for everyone. Find a church that meets your needs and that you can serve in.
Your failures don’t define you.
You will make mistakes; it’s inevitable. But always remember that these failures don’t define you.
You’re in the present, and your failures are in the past.
Leave them there. Learn from them, learn from others, and surround yourself with solid friends who will hold you accountable as you hold them accountable. At the same time, don’t sugarcoat your faults. If you made a poor decision that you knew to be wrong, then don’t call it a mistake. Own up to it and seek accountability. If you have Jesus, you have grace. Let this grace serve as a means of sanctification in your life.
Spend time with Jesus.
You’re taking a full load, you may be working, but you still have time for some Jesus. The time you spend towards spiritual development is a greater investment than the time spent towards your GPA. It’s okay if your daily agenda includes hours of studies and only 30 minutes with Jesus. He understands. He brought you here so that you can be trained to advocate his kingdom in the world. Your diligence is an act of worship. My challenge to you is to spend 30 minutes each morning alone with Jesus. Surrender the day to him, remember your identity as His child, and as the Bible says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” -James 1:5. Also, nobody ever regretted spending time with Jesus.
Don’t be that rebel. Remember, The Liberty Way didn’t choose you. You chose The Liberty Way. And in exchange, you inherited a wonderful experience and quality education. Believe it or not, TLW never killed anyone, nor did it reduce the preparation needed to make it in the real world.
You’ll never hear anyone say, “if only I was allowed to drink in college I’d be so much more prepared for life!” It’s no secret, there’s a small provocative party scene here at LU. I wish so badly that there wasn’t, but there is. These activities do nothing for your spiritual development. You don’t have to get sucked into the drinking scene. There is way more to the college experience than getting wasted or finding your independence in rebellion. There will be students who try to manipulate you. I pray that you stand strong. Mind you when I say “party” and “drinking,” I mean the party scene involving excessive drinking and tasteless behavior, not a group of students assembling to play catch phrase.
Don’t fall into the habit of complaining about Convo. If you have a legitimate concern then let your voice be known. But do it in a mature and effective manner. Tweeting, “Today’s speaker is a heretic, LU’s leadership are a bunch of fascists and the only thing that can remove the stick from my butt is a mexican meal from the Rot #convosucks” only makes you look immature and unwilling to actually pursue any type of change. Truth is, Convo rocks. Surrounding yourself with over 10,000 fellow saints singing praises to God and hearing notable speakers who are experts in their fields of work…yea, we’re blessed here at LU.
Guard your heart
I’m not going to say don’t date the first person you meet…but be cautious. You’re growing and changing. So are they. Pursue a friendship first. Friendship will expose the transparency that may be hidden if you jump into a romantic relationship initially. If they’re not walking with Jesus, it’s a no go. Make sure you’re on the same spiritual platform. Make sure they desire YOU and not the benefits that come with a relationship. And always communicate, communicate, communicate.
Though you miss your parents, you’re secretly glad to have a break from them. And they likely feel the same way about you (though they’ll never tell you that). Either way, keep in contact with them. You think you’re nervous about being in college? They just sent their young’un out of the house without immediate guardianship over them anymore…something they’ve had for 18 years. They’re adjusting too. Take this opportunity to affirm each other. Call them, tell them about your experiences. It’s easy to adopt the notion that calling your parents makes you less independent. Not true at all. You can be independent and tell your parents about your experiences. They raised you, they deserve to know :)
Again, these fears are all normal. But you’re gonna rock it. Keep walking, keep praising.
Remember that Jesus is your biggest fan and he’s cheering you on every day!
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About the Author
Hi, my name is John and I love coffee. As I write this I’m sitting in a local brewery sipping a “mudslide” espresso with cream and two and a half sugars. There are few things in life that I feel merit precise orchestration with no room for error, coffee is one of them. My life belongs to Jesus. I am his son and he is my King. His work in my life is reason enough for my faith to be made complete. He lived to die for me so that I may be credited righteous thus I will live for him. I don’t hold any radical theological views, other than I serve a radical God. I affirm scriptural inerrancy, infallibility and the Bible as God’s final authority in text. See full bio here