A Note from Chris Adams: This summer we have had the joy of working with an intern named Savannah Ivey. She has written a post for today that I believe gives us a glimpse into the lives of many young women who are in college. I encourage you to read this with an open heart, asking God what young woman He is asking you to pour into.
“College: the best four years of your life.” I’ve talked to people who either agree or disagree with that statement. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, I believe there will be agreement on this next one: “College: four exceptionally crucial years in your walk with Jesus.”
I am about to enter into my senior year of college, and there is a bittersweet taste to that. I have loved this season of my life. I have made friends, traveled, gone to a football game (just one, but that still counts), and made memories that will mark me for the rest of my life. But above all of those wonderful things, I will remember college as the time that I was marked by my relationship with the Lord.
Freshman year was my first time being on my own. While many warned me, I was shocked by the level of independence I stepped into. I grew up in a family of believers, was involved in church, and attended a Christian school, so saying that I was “sheltered” was an understatement. I was in a brand new environment with a completely different culture than the one to which I was accustomed. While my youth leaders often spoke about college as the place where “your faith becomes your own,” I took that statement lightly, and essentially brushed it to the side. After all, I was the “goody-two-shoes” who had perfect attendance, exceptional grades, and made great decisions. I knew who I was, and I was fine; there was no stopping me. I would shine Jesus all over that school.
This level of pride may have served as a sort of net which saved me from certain decisions that most people expect college students to buy into, but it also blinded me to the lies that I was buying into. Praise the Lord that He gave me a great community and godly teachers leading up to my entry into college! Their lessons guided my steps against many dark paths. However, I lost a great deal of accountability when I set foot on campus. I was not attending the same church that I had in high school, and I did not have the same access to truth I always had before. The godly surroundings that I had taken for granted throughout high school were replaced by an atmosphere of darkness.
Let me share with you what I believe to be the most popular lie that believers will face during their collegiate career: college is about you. It’s a subtle deception, but when manifested in your heart, it festers into a toxic belief system.
After hearing that from enough people, that lie began to set into my thoughts. I was part of a Bible study and still attended a church, but I put the Lord in the passenger seat as I took the wheel in independence. I didn’t care about my quiet time as much as the time I spent napping after a long day of class. I was no longer purposeful in making disciples, but in making my own plans. I was seeking the Lord, but in a convenient way. Essentially, I was saying, “Thanks, but no thanks, God. Lord, I’m all about knowing you, but the making disciples and serving You thing… I’ll get to that when I graduate. Right now I need time for myself.” What an empty faith that is! Because He is a gracious Father, He let me live in that belief system for a short while. Then, when I realized the emptiness I had chosen over Him, He lovingly greeted me with open arms. He used that season to teach me about Himself and has faithfully redeemed that place in my heart; but I often think back to the early conversations I missed out on with the hurting people He placed in my path because of my selfishness.
I want you to know how desperately young women need godly women to step into their lives. All across our college campuses, there are young believers who are tempted to buy into that lie that “college is about me.” The enemy is present on these campuses and lies are surrounding us on every side. I heard someone say recently that college campuses are a playground for the enemy, and I can absolutely see the truth in that. There are lost and hurting twenty-somethings sitting in our classrooms, looking for life in everything but Jesus. Jesus says in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden” As believers, we get to be the light that these people encounter. But to do that, we have to shine.
I share my story in the hope that it might bring to mind a young woman in your life who is currently or about to enter into college. If she knows the Lord, I would ask you, on her behalf, to jump in with her. For you, maybe it’s a girl you’ve led in small group, or a friend’s daughter. It may even be a girl you’ve just seen around your church. Ask the Lord to reveal to you that girl and step into that relationship with her. We need women who will boldly proclaim truth in the midst of these lies we hear—to shine the light to us.
I am so thankful to now be in a mentoring relationship with an incredible woman named Lori. I am able to share with her the struggles I am facing and the lies I am tempted to listen to. She graciously points me to Jesus and holds me accountable to stay rooted in His truth. In addition to listening and guiding me, she has also opened her life to me through sharing the struggles and joys she is experiencing in her own life. Through her wisdom and vulnerability, I have seen Jesus in a new way and am inspired to walk more closely with Him.
Please do not underestimate the battlegrounds that young women step into. In this crucial time, where our faith is becoming our own, I would ask you to walk with us in grace and truth—pointing us always to Jesus. Remember that your time with her will go beyond just her ears. Through your accountability and guidance, she will be better equipped to be the light she has been called to be on her college campus or wherever the Lord leads her.
Seek out those young women around you and step into this season with them. They will be so thankful for it.
Watch next Monday for a follow up to this post with practical ideas for making connections with college women.
Savannah Ivey is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She is majoring in Communication Studies with a minor in Psychology. This summer, she worked with Chris and Mary Margaret as the Women’s Leadership Training Intern, assisting with the YOU Lead and Women’s Forum events. She loves working with young women, coffee, conversation, and music.