WELCOME TO BAYLOR!!! Something you’ve doubtlessly heard about a jillion times, but there it is one more time!! I am so excited for you; you’re coming to an amazing school with ample opportunities. Freshman year is completely unique from all your other years. I absolutely loved mine. Made amazing friends, did fun things, had good teachers, really lived the full Baylor experience.
But at the end of that wonderful year, I wanted more. It wasn’t a crash and burn experience. I was going to Mass every Sunday and my fun consisted of things like Common Grounds, fro-yo, football games, running the line, climbing trees on campus and driving around Waco. It was great, but I found myself still experiencing a steady longing for something.
I think it’s at this point where things that are bad for you have room to come in to try to fill that longing for something. I was grounded enough to know who I was (not by my own merit but as a product of the way God made me and my environment growing up), and recognized the something I was longing for to be Christ.
I’d known this for a while, but was really confused on why I felt so unfulfilled. I went to church every Sunday, was a good person, shouldn’t I be feeling some fulfillment from that? Maybe some, but not enough. I longed for infinitely more really deep down.
All that to say: The advice I want to give you is what I learned that’s led to a fulfilling life, and I think the place where you are right now is a great place for you to hear it. In college you can become anyone you want to be, but if you don’t know who you are and who you want to be, you might wake up one day and be someone you’re not proud of. My advice is about some things that have helped me become who I was created to be and that will do the same for you. Practices that helped me make room for Christ to come in and pour the healing medicine of grace in my heart. There is tonnnssss more I would like to say to you, but this is THE most important!
1. Go to confession! Regularly! At least once a month. Confession is amazing and necessary if you want to grow as a person. Realizing your sins and feeling sorrow for them is where Christ comes in and pours in forgiveness and healing. It can be hard to get your butt to confession, but it’s the hardest things in life that bring about the most beauty. Confession is the single best example of that. You know that moment in Inside Out where the girl cries but it’s good and healing? Or in Insurgent when Tris has to tell everyone what she’s done and it about kills her because she hates herself for doing it, but saying it out loud helped her heal? That’s confession, but even better. Be brave and go. I promise you’ll be glad you did.
2. Go to mass! AT LEAST on Sundays. You’re gonna get real busy real fast this year. I don’t care who you are though, everyone has time to go to mass. I’d also venture to say that everyone has time to go to daily mass. 30 minutes out of your day is nothing, take it from a person who believed the opposite her freshman year, and who’s currently in a 2-year-in-1 graduate program. You have time! There’s often 50+ students at daily mass during the school year, and some of them have schedules you wouldn’t believe. They’re there because Jesus literally comes down from heaven and meets you in the Eucharist. To use an illustration from a favorite priest and speaker Fr. Schmitz, If someone told you Jesus was going to be a 10 minute walk from your dorm at 5:30, would you say “man, I’ve gotta study.”? No! You’d stop whatever you’re doing and be there waiting for Him. Guess what! Jesus is coming down from heaven everyday at 5:30 pm in the Eucharist, only a 10-minute-walk away from your dorm. See you there J
3. Pray. This is huge. Living a fulfilled life means loving and trusting Jesus Christ with your entire life. Cool, but how? You come to love and trust someone by getting to know them. You can’t trust or love someone you don’t know. You get to know someone by talking to them. Hence, prayer. Talk to Jesus. Let Him introduce Himself to you, lead you to trust and love Him with everything you are. He will if you let Him. This is a continual process. We don’t have full knowledge of Christ until heaven, which we’re working towards everyday, so He will gradually reveal more of Himself to you, which moves you to grow in trust and love. Set aside a specific time of your day to talk to Him, and hold yourself to that time every day! It’ll probably be hard to get in that habit, but don’t get discouraged! You were made for this. If you miss a day or 5, recommit and follow through. Tell Him about your day, about the things you’re desiring. Find you a good devotional and pray with that (ask Fr. Daniel or look at the books available at St. Peter’s. They’ll rock your world). Meeting, knowing, trusting and loving and being loved by Jesus in prayer is the most fulfilling thing in the world. But when it doesn’t feel like it, pray anyways, because He’s still there and you’re gonna grow in discipline and virtue for trusting in His presence.
4. Join a Bible Study! The more you’re learning about God’s love, and the more time you spend around people wanting to do the same, the more you’re going to want to fill yourself with His love. There are LOADS of Bible Studies at St. Peter’s and they’re phenomenal. Fill out a Bible Study interest form at St. Peter’s at Sunday Mass and respond to the person that contacts you. Don’t say you don’t have time, and if you don’t have time, make some because it’s that crucial! Be that person that goes to Bible Study every single week!
That’s it! Pretty much everything else stems from these practices. And if it’s harder than you expected, good! You’re gonna grow so much from that. Draw your strength from Christ in the sacraments and be brave and generous with your time and heart. I have loads more to tell you about what the Lord has shown me after making a habit of the above things. Stay tuned ;) Bottom line, nothing has fulfilled me but living in the love of the Lord, and the same is true for you. College is a place where a lot of people discover either that, or are deceived into getting only short little highs to fill a void, but result in making you emptier. Choose the first one or fall into the second. There’s not another option. I’m doing my best to grow in it every single day and it’s hard and messy and exciting and beautiful. I can’t wait to see you do the same. Take heart, Sic Em’ Bears, and have an awesome freshman year!
Julia is a graduate student studying Speech Pathology from Mount Pleasant, Texas.