Change and Constancy
The spirit of ‘new beginnings’ kindled by the arrival of spring takes me back to 5 years ago, when I began my first semester of college. Like many college freshmen, I saw my foray into higher education as a chance to redefine myself–‘reboot’ my identity, so to speak.
Up until my first morning of sitting in a university classroom with a couple hundred other students, my classes had consisted of only one student–me. Being homeschooled hadn’t meant that I’d been sheltered. I’d had a solid group of friends, but none of them were at college with me. At the university, I was surrounded by literally tens of thousands of people who didn’t know me from Adam. Talk about an opportunity for rebirth.
What I hadn’t anticipated, however, was the loneliness. Who knew you could feel so alone in the midst of over 50,000 people? Somehow, despite my leap from my quiet fish tank into the overpopulated ocean, I managed to feel just that–alone and afraid.
I remember lying on my bunkbed in my dorm a week before classes started, battling feelings of despair. My roommate wouldn’t be joining me until the first day of school, so in my room, my physical isolation mirrored my inner loneliness. I’d been excited for this opportunity to experiment with my image, but I hadn’t expected the process of a new beginning to hurt so much.
And that’s when I saw it. I hadn’t done much in the way of decorating my tiny dorm room, but I had hung up a canvas painting that a dear friend had given me as a high school graduation gift. The painting bore a cross with the script letters of a Bible verse flourished over it:
“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13 NIV)
When I came to college, literally everything about my environment violently changed. Nothing seemed familiar, and in my first week, I was floundering. But in the throes of rebirth, I was reminded that there was one thing that hadn’t changed. One thing that would never change.
In that moment, I was filled with an intense sense of peace and stability. I knew that, despite my fears and feelings of isolation in the midst of daunting change, I had God’s stable permanency to cling to. Reflecting on that moment reveals to me a side of rebirth and new beginnings that isn’t often talked about.
Rebirth isn’t all flowers and sunshine. It’s often painful. With each new beginning, we are also leaving things behind. Sometimes those are things that should be shed—aspects of our sinful nature, toxic relationships, regretful mistakes—but we also frequently leave behind everything to which we have anchored our sense of security and balance.
Unless, of course, we anchor ourselves in Christ.
That moment, in my dorm room, I decided to do just that. Change would be a part of my life for the foreseeable future, with each semester bringing new class schedules, living situations, and study groups. Graduating from college would send an even more powerful shockwave through my status quo. But the one thing that wouldn’t change, no matter where I went or what I did, was the presence and guidance of Jesus Christ.
Change still scares me. Even after redefining myself in college and finding my place in the post-university world, major life shifts are cause for uncomfortable anxiety. But whenever that feeling of loneliness creeps up on me, I can dispel it with the knowledge that God has promised to help me in the midst of my fear.
After all, God was there before change, before rebirth, before beginning anew. He was there in the winter. He’ll be there in the spring. Through seasons of change and seasons of stability, His help is offered. We need only hold His hand.
God took hold of my hand that morning in my dorm room, and He hasn’t let go since. I know He never will.
Tiffany, thank you for this wonderful reminder. I’m so excited to see where your writing career takes you!
Tiffany Tigges is an up-and-coming writer of Bible-based fantasy and adventure stories. Her love of writing extends to helping others hone the writing craft, and she works as an administrator at Texas A&M’s University Writing Center to help students do just that. Visit her website and blog, https://thedragonspen.com/, to follow her creative endeavors, and keep an eye out for her upcoming debut novel The Island of Eden!