Exactly a year ago today, I toured Baylor University for the first time. I came here the day before I toured the school I thought I was sure I wanted to attend, but I immediately fell in love with Baylor’s beautiful campus, kind people, and vibrant Christian community. I remember having the weirdest feeling as I prepared to walk into my meeting with my admissions counselor that morning before touring. When I started my tour, that feeling became so familiar — the feeling I got my first time at YoungLife camp, and the feeling I got when I had the chance to call YoungLife’s Saranac Village my home for a whole month while serving as a housekeeper just a couple months before my tour. By the time we left campus that evening, I was pretty sure I would end up here. A week later, I submitted my Early Decision application, a binding contract I was never comfortable with the idea of prior to touring Baylor, because I knew the Lord was telling me that this was what He had planned. A year later, I’ve never been this happy. I know this sounds cheesy, but I literally still walk to my classes smiling at the thought that this is real life. I go here. I am so happy I get to be a Baylor bear.
Something that’s so crazy to me is that so many of the students here grew up coming to Baylor football games and knew they would come here, following in their parents’ footsteps, pretty much their entire lives. At the same time, some of my best friends are from Colorado, California, Wisconsin, and Virginia and only came once or twice before picking Baylor. I came here, a thousand miles away from home, one time and knew this was it. Baylor’s really special in that way — people come from all over because they crave the unique kind of Christian community we have here. God is talked about openly and I’m already having deep conversations about my testimony and relationship with the Lord with my new friends. I never had conversations like that with half of my friends at home.
Don’t get me wrong, college life definitely isn’t perfect. I wouldn’t say I’ve really gotten homesick, but it definitely has been hard to be this far from my family, friends, and YoungLife leaders. Meeting new people has been a ton of fun but it’s hard to figure out who will just be friends you see around, who will just be friends you hang out with every once in a while, and who will be the friends that are there for you when it really matters. Not having those for sure, stable friends has probably been my biggest struggle over the past few weeks, but I definitely don’t feel like I’m alone. Despite not knowing who will be my lifelong friends just yet, I am so grateful for the budding friendships I already do have. I’m constantly hanging out with new people I’ve been wanting to get to know and I’m in awe of how friendly everyone is. I’ve found so many girls who value their faith and are passionate about sharing the Gospel with others, and I know these kinds of people aren’t common on every college campus.
It has honestly never been this easy for me to follow the Lord. Just being here is such inarguable proof of His grace — I’ve done nothing to deserve such a stunning place to study something I love, such a high-quality college education, and such incredible new friends that point me to Him — yet in the midst of my sin He has provided something so special. There are more churches than I can count here in Waco and there is an abundance of ministry specifically for college students. I’ve finally found a church that I love and truly feel at home in and I’m so excited to continue to grow in my faith at Antioch and alongside the Life Group the church has provided me with. Just this week at Antioch’s college ministry service we learned about the spiritual warfare happening around us all the time, and when the sermon was over we worshipped like I’ve never worshipped before. Standing with three of my closest friends, I danced and sang about how we fight our battles with God on our side. The sheer joy I felt Wednesday night was just another reminder that I’m right where I belong, and this is more than I could have ever asked for.
College classes are definitely harder than high school ones, as much as I hate to admit it to my high school friends who are currently taking an abundance of AP classes like I did. I’ve never had to study this much, but I’ve also never had friends a few rooms down from me to study with whenever I like. That’s pretty sweet. Baylor provides so many resources for academic success that while the classes might be hard, being successful just requires the effort to seek out help. I’m constantly being reminded that my identity is not found in my grades and test scores, but in my Heavenly Father who sent Jesus to pay it all so I could live in a relationship with Him. How cool is it that I get to go to a school where my struggles are constantly faced with the truth of His word?
I’ve tried to put it into words, but I don’t know how to explain just how much Baylor means to me already. This place truly feels like home. I’ve never been surrounded by so many supportive, God-fearing people and I feel like I can be completely myself here. Thank you God for putting this place on my heart a year ago and for answering my prayers with my tour. Letting God interrupt my college plans by applying Early Decision to a school I was hardly considering before touring was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. His plans are so much greater than my own and this experience has already been such a huge testament to that.
Thanks for reading and sic ’em bears!