I’ve been struggling lately to figure out what comes after college. The countdown to graduation has been in play since the end of my last semester (three months ago to be exact). I have always been a go-getter, so not having a game plan for my future kills me! The world makes it so attractive to apply for jobs, join the rat race, and confine your future to the nine to five grind. As a believer in the creator of this universe, I have a hard time buying into the fact that I was made to trade my time for money and die dissatisfied. Now maybe you graduated college and immediately landed your dream job and you couldn’t be happier. Let me genuinely say how happy I am for you! Others like myself, however, surely feel the intense anxiety and stress that accompanies a barren landscape of job opportunities. If you are like me and you filter all of your major life decisions through the lens of God’s divine plan for you, then you know that landing a job fresh out of college is more easily said than done.
So how does anyone survive waiting on God while deflecting the pressure of society to figure your future out? I don’t think there is a one size fits all remedy to the issue, but I do have some tried and true solutions for anxiety and doubt.
Have you ever heard the expression God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)? It’s true. I make it a practice to give to my church regularly, but I have found the task of tithing more difficult than usual in times of uncertainty. Giving when we are in a place of need rewards us with a sense of perspective. No matter how dire my situation might seem, there are always others who are worse off than we are. Giving cheerfully is an act that sends a message to God, letting him know that we trust him more with our finances than we trust ourselves. Giving is an act of surrender to the one who already knows what your future holds.
God blesses us so that we can bless others. Living with open hands allows us to not only give but also to receive. I would encourage you to give a little extra this month. Maybe instead of 10% of your earning you committed to giving away 15% of your monthly earnings. Or maybe this can be the first time you have ever given, or tithed, to God. I promise that giving freely, and happily is always rewarding. So give a little or a little extra this month and see what God does with your generosity.
Giving God thanks in a time of uncertainty is extremely challenging. The last thing I want to do when I am feeling unsettled and anxious is thank God for what he has done and what he is going to do. Just like giving, I have never offered God gratitude for my current circumstances and felt worse than I did before. Offering gratitude is a simple way to reverse the perspective of uncertainty and self-pity. When I am battling major anxiety about the future, I often thank God for what he has prepared for me. I thank him for the things unseen and the things unknown. I thanks him for caring for me. You will be surprised how these simple, generic offerings of gratitude can change your mindset.
Not sold on the whole gratitude thing? Giving thanks in the midst of our trials can actually change your brain! Dr. Alex Korb of Psychology Today supports the notion that practicing gratitude actually rewires the brain. I mentioned that engaging in gratitude change your mindset but gratitude also changes your actual neural activity! Can you tell I am a psychology major…no shame in this nerd’s game.
When I am struggling to gain clarity fasting is my last resort but potentially the most effective. The concept of fasting is biblical and intended to strip us of the comforts that can distract us from our relationship with God. Some people fast from food and water. As a collegiate athlete, there is no way I could be that hardcore. So I usually fast from caffeine. The typical college student in me feels like death without caffeine. I drink two coffees a day, so cutting out my white chocolate americano feels like agony. The caffeine headache that accompanies fasting, however, can be the catalyst for conversation with my creator. Every time I think about coffee or experience some discomfort from the lack of caffeine in my system, I am reminded to talk to my God and check in with him. In those moments of discomfort, I can ask my God what he wants to say to me, what he has planned for my future, and why I have been insensitive to since the last time I committed such intentional time to him.
If you decided to fast you can take a hiatus from whatever it may be that competes for your attention. Many of my friends take a break from social media when they are fasting. Some, like me, take a break from their caffeine addiction, and the most disciplined of all choose to take a break from food and liquids altogether. You don’t have to be extreme in your commitment to spend some intentional time with the Lord, but I absolutely recommend making fasting a routine thing (think once every six months or so). Fasting usually last for a period of twenty-four hours but you can totally customize the amount of time you decide to dedicate to your fast. Some people fast for hours, days, or even weeks. Start out small your first round and grow your time commitment the next time you embark on a fasting journey.
Hopefully one, or all, of the suggestions above grants you some serious clarity in your desire to hear the future. All measures above have been tried and true in my lifetime. Giving thanks, volunteering your resources, and fasting are all biblically sound measures of obedience in your walk with Christ. If you ever want to hear about one of these topics in more depth shoot me and email and I would be happy to chat with you one-on-one or develop a post specifically tailored to one of the above topics.
Have a blessed weekend!