“Time spent in preparation is not time wasted.”
The president of the university I attended told us this from the chapel stage. Honestly, I was loving my college experience and didn’t have any plans to leave quickly, so I don’t remember it hitting me personally. But since then, in conversations with students and conversations with myself, it’s come to my mind.
“Time spent in preparation is not time wasted.”
College is a time of preparation in so many ways, and the three, four, or five years that you’re in college can seem excruciatingly long when you’re in the middle of them. We want to DO SOMETHING with our lives! We’ve been told that we can and should change the world and we want to get started already. We have big plans for “real life” and can barely wait to get started. So what do we do with this time in the waiting room we call college?
“Time spend in preparation is not time wasted.”
We’re not actually as ready as we think we are.
When I was a college student, I was convinced of my own readiness. I was sure of my ability to do whatever it was I was called to do. I enjoyed college, so I was in no hurry to leave, but I didn’t question by preparedness when it was time to go.
Now, I’m more and more convinced of the necessity and richness of any season of preparation. We are quite a big deal, but God wants to do things through us that we can’t even imagine. And if we’re in a season of preparation, that’s a really good sign that we’re not ready for what’s next. But God, the One who designed both us and the work we’re called to do, knows exactly how to prepare us. Our job is to lean into the process and stay open and available to His hands. Isaiah and Jeremiah refer to the Lord as our potter, and good potters are patient and gentle as they mold their clay, forming it to match the vision in their heads.
This is real life.
I confess. I’ve fed into the lie that “real life” begins after graduation. How many times have I talked with students about “when you start real life” as if moving a tassel from right to left is the “real life” switch? For whatever reason, our society has made our time in college like our final stop before we arrive at the ambiguous destination we call “real.” For some of us, the idea of real life is scary and we dig our nails into college life as long as we can. For many others, college is like a road trip potty break with a little brother who takes forever.
But the truth is that this is as real as it gets. And this is what God has called you to invest in at this moment. You may be waiting on graduation to start the ministry your heart has been carrying for years. What ministries can you invest in now that will give you a better understanding of people, God, and yourself? It may not be exactly what you want to do, but I guarantee the experience serving others will be transferrable.
Are you waiting to make more money? Yes. Let me tell you, when you get that stable, fulltime job after graduation, those first paychecks will feel huge and wonderful, but I can speak from my own mistakes – It’s very easy to increase your spending as your income increases. Take this time to build discipline in your spending habits! Get creative with your spending, saving, and sharing to find ways to live within your means now. It will benefit you later.
Are you waiting to get married? Me too! And I’m still tempted to call life as a wife and mother “real life.” But the relationships you’re building and enjoying now are just as real as the relationships you’ll have in the future. Don’t take them for granted and invest in them. You won’t regret that, but you will regret ignoring them while you wait for Mr. or Ms. Right.
God doesn’t seem to be as anxious about changing the world as we are.
Don’t take this the wrong way! I DON’T mean that God isn’t actively involved in redeeming the world in huge ways and tiny ways and in all the ways in between. What I mean is this: When we have a burden for changing our little corner of the world, and I do believe that this burden is often a gift from the Lord, we can get really anxious about making it happen. I’ve had conversations with students who want to tackle things like sex trafficking and poverty, who have a vision for working with kids in foster care, or who have big plans of starting their own business, and with dreams like that, it’s so hard to wait to get started. Calling can so quickly turn into a huge weight that we carry, listening to its whispers that people NEED US and we’re wasting time.
We choose what voices we listen to, and the voice of God reassures us that He has worked our time in preparation into His plan. If we are truly resting in His timeline and process, He’s not worried about everything we’re not doing. He has big plans for what we are doing right now, in this place and this moment.
Enjoy the moments.
As much as we have dreams and plans for the future, as much as we know God has a purpose for our presence on this earth, there’s no guarantee we’ll live even one more hour. Instead, we’re guaranteed the presence of Jesus and can I tell you something? We experience that presence in the present. God is outside of time and chooses to interact with us in now moments; that’s one of the reasons it’s so harmful for us to live with our minds preoccupied with the future. Despite what embroidered pillows may say, God isn’t far off in the future. He’s here and He’s now and He invites us to experience Him in the now.
You all know this, but it’s worth saying again, you will never get to relive these moments. Eat them up! I’m not going to say that college is the best time of your life because we go “from glory to glory,” but it is a unique time. And if you really live it, it will be fun, challenging, exciting, stretching, and full of love and memories. Don’t miss it!