Walkabouts

The night before college graduation, my roommates and I walked around Biola’s campus to pay homage to the place that had played a pivotal role in our young adult lives. We walked by the fountain where we had late-night conversations with good friends, past the cafeteria where we ate countless meals, and through the production center where we spent sleepless nights editing films. After trekking to all of our favorite spots on campus, we walked through the thousands of white chairs that had been set up on Metzger lawn for our graduation ceremony the next morning. It was a bittersweet mixture of the old and the new—a place so familiar to me that I called it home, and yet I didn’t belong there anymore.

Walking across campus made me nostalgic for a place I could no longer call my own. For three years, Biola served as a catalyst for enormous personal growth and learning. I met friends who forever changed me, spoke with professors who challenged me to think about the world in new ways, and experienced so many profound spiritual realizations I think of the very ground as being sacred. I spent late nights at the coffee shop, hot chocolate in hand, studying for a test early the next morning, and I spent late nights getting involved in crazy shenanigans with friends—the kind of stories you continue to tell years after they happened. Most of my days at Biola morphed into a blur: classes and the cafeteria and friends, day-to-day moments that seemed too normal to be extraordinary until I looked back and saw all the ways they had changed me. I spent over a thousand days of my life at Biola University, so it makes sense that the place left an indelible mark on my soul.

I’m an incredibly sentimental person, and I often run the risk of wanting to cling to the past instead of embracing the new season I’m in. I find myself wanting to hold onto the old instead of opening my mind and heart to the new. In Isaiah 43:18 and 19, God says, “Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” These verses remind me that if I cling to the past, fervently wishing that I could continue to live in it, I will miss the wonderful new things that God is doing in the present.

For the first few months after I graduated from Biola, I couldn’t see anything beyond it. I couldn’t imagine loving anyone as much as my friends from college, or savoring post-grad life as much as my collegiate experiences. I struggled to let go of one season because I didn’t know what to hold onto next.

It’s now been just over three years since I graduated from Biola. Almost every single thing in my life is different than I thought it would be when I walked across the stage to receive my diploma, and yet it’s also better than I could have imagined. The last three years have been harder than I anticipated, but they have also been better and richer and deeper. I’ve moved halfway across the country twice and fallen in love with new cities and served as a keynote speaker. I’ve lost a job that I loved and cried myself to sleep on more than one occasion and experienced the sick, panicky feeling you get when you have to let go of a relationship with someone you still love because sometimes love is not enough. I’ve had pay-the-bills jobs and less-than-stellar jobs and finally, a dream job. I’ve met precious new friends and written for great publications and traveled to beautiful new places. I’ve worried about money and dealt with car problems and tried the volatile world of freelancing for a bit. I've experienced the weight of the world and the goodness of God.

And in the midst of it all, I’ve learned so much more about who God is. I’ve learned that God loves us enough to let things that aren’t best for us fall apart. I’ve learned that God calls us to trust our hopes and not our fears. I’ve learned that God’s goodness is not always revealed in what He gives us; sometimes it’s revealed in what He withholds from us. I’ve learned that the more I know Him, the more I trust Him.

Three years ago, I had just graduated from college. And every year, around this time, as eager young students prepare to start their first week of classes, I reminisce about the way that a college campus in Los Angeles County forever changed me. As memories of college days forever gone mix with the excitement of moments still to come, I silently thank God for His provision in the past, His faithfulness in the future, and the friends walking alongside me, right now. I don’t know where I will be three years from now, but I know that God will go before me every step of the way, and that the journey with Him will always, always be good.