Hello! Welcome to Episode 11 of the Faith Chase Podcast. I’m Heather Tabata, and this podcast is about making faith real in everyday life. Today we’re continuing a series especially for college, but the ideas apply to any point of life we’re in. Last week we talked about knowing yourself before you start college, a job, or a new school. You can check it out here. (If you landed here on the blog and want to hear the post instead of reading the transcript, click here.) This week we’ll think about six ways you can hold on to your faith in those same situations.
The more you know about something, the more you understand it, and the more confidence you can have in it. So the first way to keep a strong faith in college is to read the Bible regularly. This is something all Christians should do, but in situations like this, it’s even more important. You’ll be around people who don’t believe the same things you do and in situations that will make it hard to stick with what you believe.
This isn’t the same as being brainwashed. God wants people to be informed about the Bible. If I studied it and realized it wasn’t true, then I shouldn’t follow it. But if it is true, then I definitely should. And the only way to get and keep that personal confidence in it is to learn it for yourself.
There are apps like YouVersion that let you set up free reading plans about a certain topic or to read through the Bible in a year. You can even set reminders to keep, or get, in the habit. If you want an accountability partner, you can share progress with friends on the app or on a regular text or call update system. If you rather read in a physical copy, you can still track your progress on the app if you want to keep you up to date. Whatever your system is, find one that will help keep you motivated.
Again, this is something all Christians should be doing. Seeing a pattern?
Talking with God is important to build our relationship. Maybe sometimes it’s hard to keep up a conversation that feels one way, but God does answer us. It’s just not as easy as hearing back from Him like a person.
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. – I John 5:14-15
God really does want to hear from us. And when we’re away from the people and places that we’re used to, it’s comforting to know we can always talk to God. Whatever it is we’re going through, He understands. Jesus lived like us, and He was tempted too. So He knows what it’s like to want to fit in and not be able to do things that would make us look cool. He understands how hard it is to want things we can’t have. He’s been there, so He can help us through it.
While you’re getting used to where you fit in with a new crowd of people, don’t forget the old ones. If there are people you already know who are supportive of your faith and are good influences, then make it a point to stay in touch with them. It’ll be harder, especially if you’re moving away, but it’s worth it. Then, when you have tough situations you need help with, you’ve got people you trust to go to.
When you’re getting to know new people, think about what your life will look like with them in it. Maybe you get the idea that some of them would dance around the edges of the rules. Probably a good idea not to choose those people for your closest friends.
On the other hand, as you’re getting to know people who have the same morals or faith as you do, make an effort to spend more time with them. That’s a solid basis for a friendship. It doesn’t mean you have to like all the same things or have the same type of personality. Often, it’s helpful to have differences like that. Remember, you’re not looking for perfect people, because they aren’t out there. You’re looking for people who are heading the same direction you are.
If going to church services is a habit you already have, then be a stickler about holding on to it. There’ll be times it will be so much easier to use those extra couple hours for studying or sleeping, but it’s not worth it. If you miss once, it’s so easy to miss again. And then it gets hard to go back, because people will probably ask questions, or at the very least let you know they missed you. Being stressed, busy, and guilty isn’t a whole lot of fun.
If going to church meetings isn’t something you’ve focused on, then now is a great time to add that habit. You’re already trying to establish a routine. Let this be just one more piece of that. Or if you are in a new area and there’s no one to go with you, then go alone. Trust me, the people in that congregation will be thrilled to have a visitor. And if they’re not, then they aren’t showing God’s love the way they should. Look for a church that is true to the Bible that you can be a part of. It makes a difference.
Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. – I Thessalonians 5:11
Surround yourself with people who want the same things you do and will help you get there. In the process, find people you can encourage. It’s healthy for the mindset to focus on other people too.
For a couple weeks, everything is going to feel new and different. Maybe it feels like you’re floating because there’s no one to tell you what to do when (or at least not as much as you’re used to). You can always pick up new habits, but the best time to build in what’s important is from the very beginning. Make sure you’re taking care of your faith regularly.
When I was a junior in high school, I took AP English III, which was a composition class. We wrote essays on demand regularly. We had a very limited time frame in class to work, and we had to turn in a well-thought, legible, essay at the end. I started noticing that I was getting dizzy when we wrote those essays. I couldn’t figure out why; I never got dizzy otherwise. One day I was writing an essay in class, and it happened again. That’s when I realized I was holding my breath. I was focusing so hard on taking care of the work that I totally ignored myself.
It’s easy to focus so hard on the external demands, like studying for tests, the dozens of due dates for assignments, meetings for clubs or groups you join, that you lose sight of what you need as a person. Don’t, figuratively speaking, hold your breath for too long. If you’re like me, you don’t realize there’s a problem until it’s about to turn into a catastrophe because you’re near your breaking point.
If you know that exercising helps keep you in a good headspace, then make an appointment with yourself to do it regularly. If you need to journal for 15 minutes at the end of the day so you don’t carry over that day’s stress into the next, then do it. Yes, it’ll take time you feel like you don’t have, but it will save time in making you more efficient and productive when you’re focusing on your work, and you won’t have meltdowns. Or at least not as many. The better you’re doing mentally and emotionally, the more you’ll be able to focus on your faith. And the other way around.
People in college tend to be more open to wondering why things are the way they are and why they believe the way they do. Which can be a good thing. But if they are having doubts that you aren’t prepared to answer about your faith, it can rock your world.
Like we talked about, asking why is not bad. But be very careful when you’re answering those questions. Look for facts, because they’re there. Last week I mentioned apologeticspress.org as a good resource for evidence about why the Bible’s claims are true, and they aren’t from the Bible. They’re from historians besides those in the Bible, archaeology, and science. The articles are free and thorough. A lot of the objections people may have to faith are there.
If you start having questions or doubts, that’s okay, but address them. Don’t let them pile up on you. Study for yourself, away from influences of your peers. Then evaluate what they’re saying. Talk to your preacher, youth group leaders, and people you trust in church. Think about what they’re saying.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. – II Timothy 2:15
God wants us to think logically about the Bible. He wants us to be sure of what we believe. You may hear people talk about blind faith, but that’s actually the opposite of what God expects from us. So ask your questions, and get your answers carefully.
That’s it for this episode! Thanks for joining in. Head over to Instagram, Facebook, or chime in here on the website and let me know your thoughts on this episode. What stood out to you? What questions do you have? If you want to stay up to date on events and get a little regular pick-me-up, you can sign up for my newsletter by clicking right here. If you’re enjoying the podcast, don’t forget to subscribe so the next episode can come straight to you, and tell a friend about it. See you next week!