[junior year] lessons learned

  1. It is not your job to save people.

It’s simply our job to love, and we can do that. When God places people in our lives who need Him, He doesn’t ask us to do anything but point them back to Him. We put a lot of responsibility on ourselves to be perfect Jesus-follower examples and we take it so personally when our “person” isn’t following the exact path we think they should be. Be present. Be loving. Be graceful. And let God take care of the rest! He can accomplish a whole lot more than we sometimes give Him credit for.


  1. Good life flows from your relationship with Jesus.

It is amazing to me the correlation between the quality of time I’m spending with Jesus and the overall quality of my life. Earlier this year I did Becky Tirabassi’s 21 Day Burning Hearts Challenge and I spent an hour a day with God for three weeks. Those were probably the best three weeks of my year. I felt so content and I saw prayers being answered right before my eyes. And then, of course, life got crazy and one hour turned into half an hour, and that turned into sometimes ten minutes between classes and meetings and anything else I had going on. And before I knew it, instead of feeling full and content I realized I felt empty and unsatisfied again.

Clearing time in your day to spend with Jesus should not be considered making a sacrifice. It should not be an item on your to-do list. It should be your number one priority. It should be the best and most important thing you do each day. True joy and fulfillment flow from this, and cannot be found apart from this.


  1. Things will be out of your control sometimes & it’s okay.

This year I started taking medication for anxiety. It’s something I’ve struggled with for years, but I was never willing to admit that maybe it wasn’t something I could just “pray away” or will myself to get rid of. I like to have control over as much as possibly possible and it was really, really hard to admit that maybe I couldn’t just take care of this on my own.

Life is pretty hard when you feel like you have to have everything under control. Because guess what?! If I’ve learned one thing throughout my 21 years on this earth, it’s that things will never ever be completely under control. Some things you just have to surrender. I had to swallow my pride and admit that I needed help handling my anxiety. And oh my goodness do I feel better after getting the help I needed.

You may not have control over everything, but God does. It takes some humility to admit and embrace this, but the freedom that comes afterward is worth letting go of your reigns.


  1. Stand up for yourself every time.

In every situation, you have the right to make sure you’re being treated how you should be. You can extend forgiveness to someone and show them grace and still refuse to let them treat you poorly. You can be kind and gentle towards someone and still express to them that you want to be treated with more respect. When your feelings are being hurt, you need to be your first priority. Letting someone treat you like crap once has dangerous potential to turn into a never-ending cycle. It gets easier and easier to convince yourself that the least complicated option is to suck it up and let it go. This is so damaging to your soul and to your relationship! It is so worth it to risk a little bit of awkwardness or friction in order to make it known that you won’t accept being treated unfairly. You deserve much more than that.


  1. It’s not fair to have unreasonable expectations for yourself.

I learned this year that I cannot do everything. I’ve always known that, of course, but this year I really tried and I really failed. When I’ve got a paper to write and a test to study for and dinner to make and laundry to do, it’s not fair to expect myself to also spend an hour at the gym and to make sure my bedroom is spotless. Sometimes you have to skip the gym. That doesn’t mean you’re lazy. Sometimes you don’t make your bed in the morning. That doesn’t mean you’re a slob.

Running around all day like a chicken with its head cut off because you have SO MUCH TO DO and then crashing into bed when you’re finally so exhausted you literally cannot do anything else is not conducive to a healthy mind, body or spirit. Super long to-do lists with every single item checked off at the end of every single day will not fulfill you. Having a consistently spotless kitchen or running three miles every single day this week would be nice. But is it worth giving up quality time with your friends? Is it worth waking up feeling exhausted before you even start your day? I would argue not.

Give yourself some grace. Give yourself some space to be imperfect and to leave some boxes un-checked. You are likely the only one who expects you to do and be everything. There is a lot of freedom to be found in letting go of that.



One thought on “[junior year] lessons learned

  1. Great reminders Al….thanks…can’t wait to see you tomorrow….lymtenmw!

    Jeff W. Roley
    Associate Vice President for Gift Planning and Director of Planned Gift Marketing
    University of Illinois Foundation
    p 217.333.4007 // f 217.333.5577 // e


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