Matthew 4:4 “Jesus answered, “It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.‘“ I can still remember the day the Lord told me IUPUI was the exact place He wanted me to spend the next few years of my life. In all my unnecessary restlessness about making the “right” decision on where I was going to college, I was overcome by the peace of Christ once I regularly made it a habit to sit quietly and fully take advantage of the guidance that our Heavenly Father so generously gives us. I was able to wholeheartedly commit to IUPUI and make the decision to continue God’s will for my life.
I naïvely thought that college was a big enough change for my life, but God threw a curveball. My dad got a new job and God began changing our ordinary. My family and I started understanding that God was about to change most aspects of our lives, including where we lived. I spent the summer halfway denying the fact that God would call us to move out of the house my two sisters and I had grown up in for the past 15 years and reluctantly began packing each room. I was packing boxes marked ‘storage unit’ and boxes marked ‘college’. It was not what I thought my summer before my first year at college would look like. Our house sold very quickly which forced my parents and my younger sister to move in with my grandparents until they either found or built a house to live in. At the beginning of August, I moved out of my childhood house and moved to Indianapolis, a new city where I knew no one. People always say college is a time to completely start over, and I realized my life at that very moment was a perfect example of that.
The first week of school was a rollercoaster. I had to deal with the emotions of not being able to go back to my home and being hours from my family as I tried to process everything. I was surrounded by strangers and had to learn my way around campus. It was the middle of the week and I decided to search for some Christian organizations on campus. That is when I found Impact. Genesis 2:18 says “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” During high school, I was extremely involved in my church’s youth group and I made it a priority to attend every event I could, lead and participate in numerous bible studies, and invest in relationships with fellow believers. I knew I needed and wanted to be able to have the same community in college. I blindly joined a Life Group and began the journey of meeting people and putting in the effort that comes along with being vulnerable with a group of strangers. I also started attending different churches around the Indianapolis area every Sunday by myself in hopes of finding yet another steady community like Impact.
Things with my family got even crazier as the year went on. We initially thought we would only have to move locally, but we received the news that my dad’s new job would force us to move to Illinois. We definitely saw God working through the chaos, but it was still intensely difficult not to become anxious about how long it was taking us to clearly see God’s plan. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” I reminded myself that a lamp doesn’t illuminate miles ahead of my feet. God sometimes only allows me to see a few feet of what is in front of me. My family began our long search for a house in Illinois and my dad began traveling to California each week to complete projects there before making the final move to Illinois.
At some points throughout the year, I got so overwhelmed with all of the change that was happening back home, all of the adjustments that came with being on my own, and the fact that I needed to perform well academically, that I got very ill. I began realizing that many times during my nightly devotions, God would point me to verses that spoke a lot about steady foundations. Throughout the whole year, God was shaking the parts of my life that weren’t necessarily that important. He was showing me that the worldly things around me, like my childhood house, had no comparison to the things He holds dear to His heart. He kept reminding me that things like building relationships that push me closer to Him, giving my time to people who really needed someone to listen to them (even if I had hours of studying ahead of me or just received a tough phone call from my parents), and striving to continue to build my relationship with Him would bring me more joy and understanding than the things of this world.
School was relentless and the changes in my life continued. My great grandmother, who I was very close to, passed away, some of the relationships in my life were ending because of disloyalty, I struggled with some health conditions, and other extremely difficult situations my family was placed in. For months, my answer to almost any question was “I don’t know.” As I was struggling with not having answers, I was listening to a sermon and the pastor said “If you have all the answers, you probably have a wisdom deficiency.” I laughed to myself and realized that God was calling me to a place of humility and wanted me to stop constantly searching for answers. In Exodus 14, Moses comforted the Israelites by saying, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” I began making it a habit of stopping throughout my crazy day and simply being still.
At the beginning of May, my family finally found a house in Illinois and we are currently in the process of moving into it in a few weeks. God pulled me from my comfort zone back in August and I can’t say I’ve been back. I can’t help but be grateful for this year of immense growth. Being a part of Impact, gave me a way to gain wisdom and guidance from God. Whether it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me through the songs during Impact Nights of Worship or God speaking through members of my life group, I never doubted that God’s hand was guiding me through the storm.
Even though I could have easily retreated into a place of loneliness, I told myself I had to put an effort into relationships. I had to knock down my fear of being vulnerable and admit I needed people around me. I was climbing what felt like a never-ending mountain, but I could feel myself growing closer and closer to my Heavenly Father. I challenge you to intentionally build relationships even when it’s hard. Deliberately carve out time in your day to simply sit in the presence of God. Put all your hope in God even when the road is bumpy. I would never change any part of my journey to IUPUI and I will never forget the lessons God has taught me. I am excited to see where God takes me as I continue glorying Him with everything in me.
- Sydney Stevens, Student in Impact at IUPUI