Everyone always says, “If I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing.”
I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, so I agree that we shouldn’t change anything because it makes us who we are, BUT I can’t help but thinking there are a few things I’d change. But since I can’t, I hope that my mistakes can help someone else change their paths.
College is such an odd time for everyone. You go from a teenager to an “adult” trying to quickly prepare yourself for the real world that you are very unsure of. There is no real way to prepare, so you find yourself just trying to find yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved college. I tried to take advantage of every opportunity and meet all kinds of different people. But I feel like I was very reckless in the process. My mentor always says, “Leave beauty marks everywhere you go.” I think I did do that in many, many instances. But sometimes I feel like I left bruises instead of beauty marks.
College gives you a perfect platform to live out the calling God has given you and show others His love. You may never again be surrounded by that many people on a daily basis again. I mean I was at a campus with thousands of people, some who needed to hear about His love. But I was so focused on what I was doing or what others were doing that I didn’t really use that platform He had placed right in front of me.
Although I was a Christian, I was still so broken and hurting because I wasn’t surrendering my every day to Him. I was worrying about what people thought about me, what people said, what they were doing that I wasn’t, who they were dating, and so many other things that didn’t matter.
I fought jealousy and harbored ill feelings toward so many girls all because I was insecure and did not know my true name as a Child of God. I wasn’t living in freedom in that. I was fighting to be known and loved by people when I didn’t have to fight at all because grace and love had already been poured out for me.
I know so many people who live that way in college, in adulthood, in high school… no matter the season. I slip back into it sometimes too if I’m not careful to surrender every single day. But I know how especially easy it is in college when there are thousands of beautiful, talented people around you for you to compare yourself, too. But please don’t. Please recognize your worth, not because of what you’ve done, but because of what has been done for you.
I also know how easy it is to spend a lot of time partying. I don’t even mean the crazy, movie-scene partying that a lot of people do. I just mean drinking too much and saying and doing things that you know aren’t giving any life to your purpose. It seems like the “thing” to do and I know you want to be cool and fit in with everyone else, but sometimes it’s even cooler to stand out.
When you stand out, you attract other people who stand out. Then, you start hanging out with people who stand out and they speak life into you and make you feel like you were meant to feel. And then, when you are hanging out with people who may be lost, they see that spark in you that is God, and they want it, too.
But, when you continue to go down that road that God did not intend for any soul, you feel lost and dark and lonely, no matter how many “cool” friends you have. That’s nowhere for a human to be.
I recently went back to my college town for homecoming and took my fiancé with me. I thought it would be cool for him to meet all the people I knew and see all the places I use to go, but I started feeling those feelings of darkness as I reminisced.
Again, don’t get me wrong, there were so many beautiful times there that I will never forget. I grew and excelled and explored, but I also got so hurt and injured because I let me guard down and didn’t focus on Who mattered.
When I was in college, I cared a lot what people thought. It wasn’t that I wanted anyone to think I was great, I just wanted them to know I really was a good person and a loving person and a kind person, and I felt like I had to prove that to everyone. I felt like I had no grace and that if I ever said or did anything wrong, people saw me differently and then spoke about me differently. And I didn’t feel that for no reason. It actually happened. People judged me and made me feel so worthless, but that wasn’t totally their fault. I gave them that power by placing my worth in their hands instead of the God who already called me worthy no matter what I did or said.
There were people who loved me like God loves me and spoke so much life into my purpose, but there were people who made me feel so defeated, even if they didn’t mean to. I try to always speak life into people because of that. I know I fail sometimes, but I don’t ever want a soul to feel the way I did. And the sad thing is, I probably made people feel defeated during those days, too. I would certainly go back and change that.
I heard a speaker say, “What if we always made everyone we came in contact feel like we feel after looking at Facebook on our birthdays?” Everyone shows you love on your birthday! So, why can’t we always do that?
The truth is, you can’t always do that. You’re human. The good part of that is, you don’t have to. God takes care of that. He gives us grace, and He steps in. We are not smart enough or big enough or great enough to save anyone or have the responsibility of making anyone happy. Sure, we can help, but at the end of the day, all we are doing is pointing people to Him. So, do that with your every day.
So, when I was back in my college town with my fiancé, I was rushing to get to a spot during the homecoming parade to take a picture with members of a student organization I had been a part of. I had asked them to wait because I was, of course, running late, but I didn’t expect them to because everyone was busy. Still, I wanted to go see and talk to people I hadn’t seen in a while. When I got there, I was greeted by several people who kept saying, “Yeah everyone was saying we were supposed to wait on you but we knew you wouldn’t make it,” or, “We were all laughing about having to wait on you.” My heart kind of sank. I had that “uninvited” feeling that you feel when you walk up on a group talking about you. I knew they hadn’t been nice when they were talking about me. I knew there was eye rolling and people thinking that I thought everyone should wait on me, even though that wasn’t the case. While much of what I was assuming was likely true, I also knew Satan was using it to absolutely suck the joy right out my happy heart.
Then, a girl said that someone had said, “We don’t want Kaitlin to write a blog about us if she misses the picture.”
I felt like I had been punched. I felt like someone was making fun of and attacking what I loved to do the most. Writing is what I love and what I know God has called me to do. But still, I greeted everyone and smiled, all the while fighting back tears that I felt were stupid.
My fiancé could tell something was wrong, so when I told him, expecting him to tell me how silly I was being, he said, “That was so mean of them and I am so sorry.” I collapsed onto his shoulder and cried. And then I cried some more at lunch. I had been so excited to see everyone, and I had let them bring back old feelings. Feelings of unworthiness, feelings that people were talking about me, feelings that people didn’t like me, feelings that people thought that I thought I was better than everyone.
That set me up for a day of insecurity. I saw people who I knew hated me and I wanted so badly to reach out and tell them I was different and that God loved me and them and everyone.
But guys, we can’t walk around proving ourselves to ANYONE. We don’t have to so we really shouldn’t waste our energy. You are NOT everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s ok. You’d be boring if you were.
I walked around moping and defeated for a while and said, “Well, I just won’t ever write another blog since people are making fun of it.”
Then, God said to me, “I have asked you to write, not for you, but for Me and for other people.”
The rest of the day at least 7 people came up to me and told me my blogs had really been helping them. That was God’s wink to me to tell me to keep going.
And you know what, the person who said the thing that hurt my feelings didn’t mean to hurt my feelings. Maybe she wanted to get a reaction and get a laugh. Maybe she just said it mindlessly. It doesn’t matter. My battle isn’t against flesh and blood. It’s against an enemy who uses small things to create big feelings. But my God already has victory over that.
I wish I would’ve known that in college. I wish I would’ve walked in freedom. I wish I would’ve left beauty marks instead of bruises. But now, I can appreciate how far God has taken me. And I can pray that those after me on the same campus will do what I should’ve done.
If I could go back and do it differently, I really would. But since I can’t, I will be thankful for what I learned and who it made me and how I can help someone else. God knows what He’s doing, and I trust that. He works ALL things together for good – our bad feelings, our bad thoughts, our past mistakes, our insecurities, our moments of weakness – He uses everything not just for good, but for OUR good.
Friends, whatever season you are in, do what you can to live in freedom and lead others to that freedom, but don’t ever get so discouraged when you mess up that you stop. Keep going. Always keep going.