Who do I become?

I wish the title of this post was the question asked of graduating seniors. Who do you plan on becoming? While an acceptable answer is Chuck Norris, its not entirely what I am trying to get at

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This question is less about meeting your potential and more about coming to terms with who you were created to be, a cherished child of God.

As sweet and heart-warming as that sentiment may be, though, I wonder if we all know what exactly that entails? When I was in undergrad, the world seemed like a bad place, but my campus was seemingly safe. I am sad to admit that I resided in a bubble of sorts, well most of my friends did too.

Maybe you were a commuter or maybe you did everything in your power spend time off campus and involve yourself with the community at large. Either way, after graduating your peer group experiences a mass exodus. Some stay nearby, some move back to their homes and still some move out of state or to other countries. Your community tends to have a few drastic changes after college and if the people in the community does not change, limits of time and energy will surely be a new reality.

For me after graduation, it was shocking how quickly relationships went from being the easiest thing for me to manage to the hardest to cultivate in a matter of months.

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Maintaining friendships became hard and making new friendships in new cities felt near impossible at first, for me. I remember being in a bit of a tizzy for a while. I didn’t understand how being Christian (a supremely relational existence) and being lonely could be reconciled. I knew it was part of following Christ to be in community, but between work and cooking for myself I didn’t know how to maintain healthy relationships all that well. And relationships were only one part of becoming an adult! How could I ever do the other parts?

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Our culture and this world has put a lot of emphasis on being adults. And we seem to function in a society that teaches us how to learn and go to school well, but not always how to live well. And becoming an adult sometimes feels like this, also this is one of my favorite videos ever so I have no choice but to include it:

What I would like to argue is that who you become has little to do with what you actually do. Titles come and go. As I mentioned in my last post you might decide in your fifties to go for a Master’s degree in theology, who really knows. But who you are really doesn’t change. Maybe what you are passionate about changes, but who you are at your essence as a child of God does not alter. And if you are leaning into that identity you will desire to grow into that adopted child more and more. So what does it look like to lean into an identity formed by God? In a child you can often see the best parts of their parents, its not so different with God as your parent. Here are three aspects of who God is that can inform you of the type of adult you plan on becoming. God is:

RELATIONAL

God is three persons in one. The Godhead, Holy Spirit and Christ. In nature God is relational and God asks His children to take part in the same. While I mentioned above about how hard community gets after college, that doesn’t mean it gets worse, sometimes you just have to work harder for it. Be the type of friend you desire to be in relationship with. It took me a bit to realize that I didn’t have to wait for friends to be vulnerable or deep with me, I realized that no matter how scary I can be the one to initiate a trusting and intimate relationship. Check this article for more on the subject.

JUST

God is just. Justice is on God’s heart always. So as a full-fledged adult out of college now, you are fully participating in society and culture (I know its silly because you totally were participating in culture before you graduated). Now is the time to think about what breaks your heart and better yet what breaks God’s heart. Is it Human Trafficking? Disabilities? Prisoners? Racism? The list sadly goes on and on and hopefully more than one of these topics do break your heart. Now out of college, how will you participate (if you aren’t already) in healing the wounds from the sin in this world? God does not settle for a status quo of pain, will you speak for the voiceless (Proverbs 31:8-10)?

PATIENT & FORGIVING

I put these two together because I personally believe they are inseparable. I think true forgiveness is not rushed, but is patient. Think briefly on the patience and forgiveness that God extends to us. I wonder if God’s forgiveness would dry up without patience for us to be redeemed, to draw nearer to Our Creator. The human existence is a marathon, not a sprint and God is in for the long haul as we must aspire to be for the world around us.

If you were to ask me the question, who do I want to become? I would say a man after God’s own heart in every way. A man with the conviction to look evil in its eyes and say, “not in God’s Kingdom!”

Some practical suggestions on how to become a person after God’s heart:

  1. Don’t spend too much time church shopping. Choose one, settle down and begin seeing the brokenness just within those walls. One of the best places to practice patience and forgiveness is within the walls of a church. And allow others to be patient and forgive you.
  2. Try new things. I know, I know you have heard this before, but I have seen my heart ignited in ways I counted imagine because I tried something uncomfortable since I graduated college. I thought I had it all planned out, thats a story for another time though.
  3. Find “adultier” adults that you admire. Those you believe are leaning into their identity designed by a loving God. Learn from them and also, teach those younger than you.

P.S. Check out this awesome resource on life after college from InterVasity.

Much Love

BGTF

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What Do I Do Now?

Let’s get something clear before we dive any deeper into the murkiness of life after college, the next two posts aren’t the cheat codes to life. Rather, what I want to offer hope that you can in fact do this and do this well.

So, the question is: What do I do now?

Well before we get there I think we should be clear about how life looks like after you have accepted that diploma and tried to do a back flip on stage.

Check out this post in Relevant Magazine about what to expect post college.

Scary and hopefully a little encouraging, right? Things will in fact become more challenging pretty much all around. But in other news if you really didn’t like being in school, at least you can say that is over now!

Practically, you have a few different options for what to do after undergrad. There is Grad School. There is the work force. There is the way of the Artist. And there is limbo:

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All are plausible options (some more desirable than others). But as unbelievable as it seems I have worn the shoes of all four since I graduated undergrad.

I had so many plans for myself after graduation. I knew since I was in high school that by the time I was done with college I would have my first novel published and I would be en route to my wedding day living near my friends and families.

Instead since graduating, I have been in limbo (more than once) been a poor artist living at home, worked full time in a church, started grad school and I have lived in four different states. You are probably thinking, Wow! That is a lot of experience Matt, you must be in your thirties for sure! 

My response is laughter because I graduated college a bit over two years ago.

So how does the ridiculousness of my experience after college help you, specifically? Well, the main theme that all four possibilities after college hold is that you can either do them well or do them poorly. The question shouldn’t be what do you do now as much as it should always be HOW do I do it well. Whatever “it” may be.

I was recently in a meeting for my graduate school program, where we discussed vocation. The speaker shared with us that we must eventually narrow down our options and pick a route of what we desire to do. I looked around the room and laughed to myself, I had thought we all narrowed down our options when we agreed to get our Masters degree, but apparently it has not been narrowed down quite enough.

I say this because this was a room made up of people ages 24-64. And it is safe to say that what we “do” changes over our life, but how we do it can be as consistent as we desire.

The fact is that after you graduate there will be a field in front of you. When you look at it you may see weeds that seem too fierce or your field may look empty and dry.  Either way there is life in that field and it is your job to plow and bring it life. To “plow” well after graduation, I think requires us to lean into two commandments found in the New Testament. Do not worry and love.

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Whether you are jobless, running your own start-up, raising a family, entering marriage or writing the next great novel you can choose not to worry and to love daily. The important things of life will either flourish or dry up and die because of how you do what you do.

While this advice might seem more holistic than practical, I assure you that trusting God and loving others will make your day more than worth living every day, no matter what you do. But, because I can’t help but to be practical here is a word of wisdom I received from a professor at one point.

If you are discerning your “purpose” is God’s divine tapestry, your place in the artistry of it all, answer these two questions: What breaks your heart and baffles your mind? Chances are if you know the answer to these questions you know which field your plow belongs. 

Much Love

BGTF

P.S. Check this resource if you are discerning whether or not to head straight to Grad School. 

What’s Next…?

Chances are you have been asked on a fairly consistent basis even since the beginning of your senior year; what is next? I know that when I was in my last year of college this was the question on the tip of every person’s tongue. Whether a new acquaintance, an old friend or a current peer, people were so incredibly concerned with what was next for me. And of course I sinned against my fellow seniors by asking them the same question. Maybe, just maybe, one of them would have the magic formula for what to do with life after school. None of them did… and most of us seniors, even into the hours right before receiving our diplomas, assumed life after college would go something like the video below:

While the humor in this video is overwhelming the truth is that there is a fear that every person who is transitioning through a phase in their life experiences. That fear is simply the unknown. What is on the other side? And while the transition from High School to college was frightening for most, there was still the knowledge of something familiar. You had been in school for 12 years at that point, another 4 or 5 isn’t too intimidating. But after college? After you have completed the culture’s mandate of schooling. What now?

That’s the question I want to walk through with you over the next couple of blogs. Nobody wants to fall flat on their face, but many do. That is the reality, in some way or another we will all have those moments and it will happen more than once. What I hope for is that you can learn with God by your side and the Holy Spirit leading you how to fall on your face, and make it look graceful.

You may even have your next steps planned out. Perhaps you found a job or have an apartment picked out or even have already been accepted to your first overall graduate school choice. That is beautiful and well and good, but (and I promise I do not say this to scare you) all the planning in the world cannot change the fact that life is unpredictable and life after undergrad is an unexplored territory. What is required of you is to lean into it, experience it and become wholly okay with not being okay. You aren’t supposed to have all the answers now and you won’t have all the answers after graduation either.

The areas of life I plan on looking at over the next few blogs will look into the themes of faith, community, vocation and identity.

What do I do now?

Who do I become?

These are the questions we will lean into. Most of what I share will be from my own personal experience, which is not universal, some voices of friends and colleagues and Ill be sure to throw in some pictures of puppies to lighten the mood:

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Let’s tackle whats next.

Much Love

BGTF