January 8, 2013

What I'd Change if I Could Redo College...

I recently came across this quote from Mother Teresa that made me think long and hard:  "I do not pray for success, I ask for faithfulness." Over the past year I've been thinking a lot about what I would have done differently if I could could repeat my college years.  I am 100%, totally and completely, a Type A, must check everything off my list, must do better than my best kind of a person.   This was especially the case in college. I felt like I had to be involved in everything and do my absolute best at everything.  I was the president of my sorority, resident advisor, running coach, volunteer, while always striving for that 4.0 GPA.  My goal was graduate school, and everything I did was focused on getting me there.  It's really quite sickening, and I had more than a few nights filled with tears because I felt so overwhelmed and exhausted.  

Spiritually, I wen
t to church every weekend, was part of a Christian sorority, and prayed most nights, even if I did fall asleep halfway through most of them.  I wasn't out partying, didn't do drugs, and was saving sex for marriage.  Surely a good Catholic, right?  The problem is that while it may have looked like I had it all together from a worldly perspective, I was so spiritually thirsty.  I was so focused on my own personal success that I wasn't giving my time to the Lord, and I was not working to grow in faithfulness.  

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely believe that we should work hard and strive to do our best.  However, there's a big difference between working for your own success versus trying to glorify God through your actions.  God wants our light to shine before others, but only so that it will turn people towards him, not us (Matthew 5:14-16). 

So, if I had the chance to go back,  I would make time with God my priority.   I would give him my first instead of my last.  I would be more intentional about my extracurricular activities.  I would ask myself, am I doing this for my own success, or am I doing this to be faithful to God and what I believe he is calling me to do?  I would spend more time praying for spiritual direction and guidance and less time planning all the activities I thought might benefit me.   I would spend more time being and less time doing.  I would spend more time focusing on building my Christian relationships with others rather than building up my resume.  


The good thing is that life is a work in progress, and I can always learn from my mistakes.  I'm still learning how to prioritize, and I still don't always make God my number one everyday, but I'm certainly working on it more.  I feel like I have my heart and intentions in a better place than I did in college.   I'm also learning how life is so, so much better when I give God my first rather than my last.  I think this quote from Proverbs speaks not just of wealth, but the firstfruit of everything we have or do in life: "Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine" (Proverbs 3:9-10).   When I give my time and energy first and foremost to God, he fills me up spiritually and emotionally, in a way that a million worldly accomplishments never could.  When I seek God first, all other things are provided for me by him (Matthew 6:33).  

Colossians 3:23 says "Whatever, you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord, and not for others." If I could go back in time, that would be my motto through college.  I would seek to please God alone, not others (especially including myself).  So that, along with the quote, "I do not pray for success, I ask for faithfulness," will be what I will continue to strive for in life.  I want to live for God, and not for me.  

"What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?
-Luke 9:25

Is there anything you would have done differently in college? 

Love,
Caitlin 

17 comments:

  1. I definitely would have spent a little bit less time stressing about studying (I too am the get-the-A kind of gal!) and spent more time getting to know friends and just enjoying myself. I definitely would go back and give more time to God too - I went on a lot of the retreats and Mass every weekend but that was pretty much it. I was not very solid in my faith life (that happened when I started grad school) so I think that I would have gotten my heart broken a lot less and been a lot happier if I had a stronger faith base in college.

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  2. P.S. Love the blog redesign! I'll have to ask you sometime how you did the about me so cool!

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    1. I would have spent more time with friends as well!! Thomas has software on his computer for advertising, so he helped me make it! If you ever want us to make you one, let me know! :)

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  3. Beautiful post Caitlin! I a Sophomore in High School so I haven't got there yet, but I am like that in HS. Always wanting to do beyond my best and sometimes beyond my capability! And worrying about not getting all my credits... I'm learning and He is being patient with me! If I may ask, what school did you go to? Thank you!

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    1. Do you have an email address? I'll email you which school! I am just trying to keep my location private on here for safety purposes! :)

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    2. Oh yes I do understand! Here it is:
      grace(at)aimhighgroup(dot)com

      Thank you :)

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  4. I'm a sophomore in high school too, and am totally with you on the Type A thing. I'm homeschooling this year and have found it to be a lot more relaxing. I don't worry a whole bunch but I obsess way too much about things like ACT scores and GPA and have a lot of trouble with falling into pride over them. I just keep praying and striving and let God keep working on me.

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    1. I definitely can relate to the feeling! As for the pride thing, giving many thanks to God everyday has helped me a lot with remembering that my gifts are due to him, not me.

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  5. I was an RA too! I think I would have worried less about finding the boy to marry. I would also have taken a few more classes just for fun. Great topic; I enjoyed the reflection.

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    1. I really loved being an RA!:) Thanks for sharing what you would have done differently!

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  6. Three essays from finishing senior year in highschool and this post made me look forward to August!

    God Bless!

    Chloe M.
    www.timeonthemountaintop.blogspot.com

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  7. I love the thought of giving God "my first, rather than my last." So simple, but it's such a hard and worthy goal!

    I can identify with how you felt in college, but for me, it was high school. I was good in the worldly sense, just like you said, but a little shy at first and more than a little uncool (I laugh at the uncool part now, but of course, when you're living it, it's the worst thing in the world! Actually, I'm still pretty uncool =) ). I thought that being super-involved, taking on leadership roles, and getting perfect grades could form my identity, and I'm so thankful that by college, being surrounded by true, virtuous friends and so many opportunities to grow spiritually, I was able to manage my time much better, care much less about labels, and just become much more myself. I think that often, we think our personalities have changed in a huge way over time, but in reality, knowing God and knowing yourself more and more just reveal your truest personality and truest self that were always there and have become more purified and refined. It's amazing!

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing your reflection! I also was (and am still) uncool, so I can relate to that! :) That's such an interesting point that God reveals our true personality rather than our personality changing. I can definitely see the truth in that! Hope you are having a great week!

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  8. As some one who is still in college, thank you for sharing this. Makes me realize I have to think ahead and consider, is their anything I think I might regret?, and make proactive changes now.

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  9. I LOVE this post! I always think about what I would have done differently in college if I knew what I knew now. I had a good college experience in terms of successes, but looking back on it I wasn't happy or fulfilled at all. I feel like it was for the same reason that you mentioned above - God wasn't my priority. I think if I had given more time to the Lord and growing in His word that I would have a better memory of that time. But then again, in a way I almost appreciate that time because it is such a strong contrast to the life I lead now and it provides such a good example to me of how the more I have Him in my life the better life is. I hope that makes sense :o)

    Anyway, thanks for sharing!

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    1. It absolutely makes sense because that's how I feel as well!

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