Despite classes, exams and the seemingly endless opportunities for connections and new information provided on a college campus, an overwhelming reality that hits you as an upperclassmen – and especially a second semester senior, is how unprepared you start to feel for your life beyond undergrad. In my own personal experience as a Molecular Biology major preparing for a career in research, I have found myself expressing the comical frustration of a dichotomy of knowing how to sequence DNA and clone genes but being inept at apartment hunting or creating a grocery budget…
Filing into Ezell chapel on a Tuesday evening with many other ladies in a similar realization, I was excited for a new type of ‘class’ on a very pertinent stage of my life – ‘adulting’ and how to be obedient and receptive to the Lord as life starts a new chapter.
Sarah Hale and Alicia Dalee came to us willing to share their stories and answer many of the questions at the forefront of our concerns. It was inspiring to listen to Sarah share her story of unexpected direction from the Lord, taking a major shift in her career after being a talented prospective and successful manager in the music industry immediately after finishing her undergrad at Belmont University. While the music industry had been her original sole intention, God cleverly integrated opportunities for her to pursue a newfound passion in nonprofit work geared toward ending Human Sex Trafficking, leading her to a new job after her first job fell through suddenly.
While God redeemed what to her felt like a shattered career, she highlighted that the struggle she endured was necessary to fully realize the woman God intended her to be – and where her identity came from.
Alicia offered her experience as well in finding her identity post-graduation, also finding quick success after taking a leap of faith to move to Nashville, a city she had no community in. But throughout the last few years she’s also been learning about herself and who she is in God’s eyes. By letting go of her plan and expectations she is realizing how to operate in peace and trust even when she doesn’t know where she’s headed next.
Amidst their stories there was an almost tangible sigh of relief let out by the girls throughout the room. Relieved at the comfort provided by women a little farther down the road who were not perfect, who had “failed,” but who had still made it and were even stronger than they imagined. There is comfort in knowing you can have wiggle room and success.
Questions from the audience echoed familiar worries experienced in my own recent ponderings:
How do you find a solid, God-centered community after college?
How can you know your dreams/goals are aligning with God’s plan?
How do you budget for groceries???
And amidst practical advice about seeking out financial advising and being sure to live within your means, the conversation echoed three main ideas:
Be vulnerable and prayerful, find your identity in Truths straight from God, and TRUST the plan He has for you.
Both ladies encouraged us to get plugged in with a local church wherever we find ourselves planted post-graduation and to be vulnerable to build new relationships – remaining prayerful that God will open the doors for the right people to walk into our life. Since we are creatures made for community it is so important to find people who can uplift and hold you accountable as new seasons of life are presented.
In both of their stories, Sarah and Alicia both shared how as young adults they had to re-realize where their identity came from. This involved painfully and dutifully relinquishing control over every aspect of their life and ultimately giving up striving for perfectionism.
While the world will tell you that success is worth, as Christians we must seek truth from the Lord for our identity and empty our lives of what we try to control so that we can be refilled by Him alone.
Trust the process. A more than appropriate title for the event as it was a common theme in both our questions and their responses. Understanding that failure is not condemnation and remaining faithful when the answers aren’t clear was iterated not just as circumstantial advice but as inevitable realizations for women transitioning into a new independence. Lipscomb Women’s Athletic Spiritual Formation Director Shannon O’Brien referenced the story of Elisha in 1 Kings who continued the grueling work of plowing a dry field – trusting that God would eventually bring forth His promises; this, encouraging ladies to remain faithful to the Lord and to be diligent in the work the Lord provides, as He too is working out His promises in our own lives, in His own timing.
I personally came away from the event feeling peace and relief – taking seriously their advice to “give myself some freaking grace” because God is simply, “preparing me in my 20s for what He’ll be doing in my 30s,” and I don’t have to have everything figured out yet. I learned to focus on “the Gifter, not the gift” as new opportunities and tasks come into my life and to let go of my control on the plan – to “put down the pen” and enjoy the story God is writing for me.
Ultimately I realized that learning how to #adult isn’t finished after a seminar; it’s not really ever “finished” at all.
It’s a daily decision to be faithful everyday throughout changing circumstances.
Because unique fulfillment and ‘success’ will only come through trusting Him – it’s how we’re designed (in our genes so to speak).
Written By: Brianne Hoglin , Senior, Women’s Track Student-Athlete