Since I don’t really want to be at school, I am having a hard time even getting up and out of my room to go to classes. I don’t want to do any of the work or be around the people. I thought God wanted me here because it is a predominately Mormon school and I thought He wanted me to start a Christian Club on campus. But last year that didn’t happen, because I also got discouraged. This year the discouragement is a lot worse, and I don’t think I can start anything on campus simply because I feel so far away from God and I think trying to lead someone else to God when I am not close myself would be dangerous.
It is only the first week of school and I feel this way. I feel like I have died, but I know I am alive because the pain is so deep. The pain of what, I don’t know. I just know that I don’t feel at home, comfortable, safe or at peace anywhere. I now know why the suicide and depression rates skyrocket with college students, not that I am thinking of doing anything, but I can understand the logic behind it.
Is there any encouragement you can give me or any words of advice that might help me?
I’m so sorry to hear that this is such a difficult time for you. The world says college is supposed to be “the time of your life.” Just because they say it, however, doesn’t make it true. And it certainly shouldn’t be a source of discouragement or depression for you. I think for a lot of young people it’s a time characterized by bouts of confusion, stress and anxiety. So you’re not alone. The good news is you don’t have to stay feeling that way.
The first thing you need to do, regardless of whether you decide to stay where you are, and certainly before attempting ministry, is to get plugged into a church. Membership in a body of Bible-believing, doctrinally sound, Christ-like believers is essential to your faith. J. Budziszewski talks about it extensively in his book, How to Stay Christian in College. I think it’s a must read and in your case, will feel like a lifeline. (He’s also written for Boundless about the vital role church plays when you’re in college.)
If you’re not already worshipping with a body of believers, that is the first order of business. Even if you’re circumstantially right where God wants you to be (as you believed you were when you first started at this school), if you’re not relationally plugged into a church, you’re forfeiting His provision for every believer. To ignore that nurture and grace is perilous.
Once you’ve gotten plugged into a church, it will be much more likely that you’ll be able to meet other believers who are familiar with the campus you’re attending. The pastor and other church staff may know some Christian students and professors they can introduce you to. Having fellow believers on campus can make all the difference to your spiritual walk and to theirs. You might especially look for Christian groups that already exist at your college that you can join and help run. It’s tough to start a group from scratch. Why not take advantage of opportunities that already exist and build on them?
Now, about whether this is the place for you. Last week I wrote about the struggles Joseph went through on His way to God’s will for his life. They were grueling circumstances. At points he must have thought he was absolutely outside God’s will. But circumstances aren’t proof. So he was faithful. His story is full of encouragement for your situation. The more he was faithful, the more God used him. It’s never wrong to be faithful. Even if it means gritting your teeth to do it. If God’s will for you is to persevere where you are, you must be faithful. That means finding a course of study that aligns with your gifts and talents, applying yourself to the coursework and making the most of this fully-funded opportunity.
Is it that you “don’t really want to be at school” or that you don’t really want to be at this school? That’s an important distinction. If it’s a school-in-general issue, transferring to a different university won’t solve your problem of motivation. College is hard work. There were lots of days when I didn’t want to go to class. And because I didn’t land on a major till my junior year, I spent the majority of my time in school feeling uncertain about everything.
If you truly are in the midst of a spiritual war zone and you’re convinced it’s not the place for you, lack of funding for another school now doesn’t mean you can’t put your studies on hold, get a job and save for tuition at a different school. If you do decide to leave, and such a major decision is best made with the counsel of trusted Christian advisers (whether your parents, pastor or a professor or career counselor), it’s important to depart in a way that honors God. That means being gracious and deliberate.
I know from my own hasty departures from jobs I hated or other settings where I realized I’d made a mistake that it’s usually not wise to just flee. “Getting out of Dodge as quickly as possible” usually leaves a messy wake that can cause trouble later on. If, for example, you drop all your classes and move out of your dorm room or apartment with little or no notice, you’re not going to have any good references you can call on when you decide to start school somewhere else.
Whatever you decide to do, figure out your plan first with the benefit of wise counsel, and then execute it well, with a thought for the feelings of those around you.
May God guide your decisions.
Copyright 2007 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.