I just finished the second year of my university degree and this semester has been, without a doubt, the hardest semester of my degree so far.
I had a lot going on in all areas of my life – study, work, family, friends and even applying and arranging travel for an exchange study semester on the other side of the world next year.
Suddenly, I started getting tired in advance. I would get to the end of a massive week and already be calculating how I was going to make it through the next one and the next one and the next one.
I would not recommend that mentality, it stole a lot from me this semester.
The danger of wearing ‘busy’ as a badge
I started to make myself feel better by wearing the badges of ‘tired’ and ‘busy’ and ‘stressed’ and ‘sad’. All through high school and my uni degree so far, I have been very intentional about never letting my mental state get to that point of claiming my tiredness or busyness as a sign of my success or worth.
Unfortunately, I had the harsh realisation the other day that I had let myself slip into that mentality this semester. In all the juggling of everything, I dropped the ball that I needed the most – PEACE and SURRENDER.
As I confessed to a friend the other day – I got into a DIY mentality.
I started doing everything out of my own strength, my own wisdom and my own direction. I drained myself out and got so deflated that it sucked the joy out of my study and my life.
Messages to myself
Looking back, I want to shake the past Caitlyn. I want to tell her,
“You’ve got a lot going on, yes. But you have a choice right now: you can let this destroy you or you can drop everything now and surrender to peace. You need to drop everything and let Jesus pick it back up from there. Let Him tell you what to focus on and when. Otherwise, you’re going to go insane trying to hold and focus on everything at once. This is not all there is. There is more than this.”
Maybe if had I told myself that then, I would have changed my to-do list from an endless list of stressful tasks to this to-do list:
That seems like a more manageable workload.
For some people reading this, you might think, “well that’s just impractical, you still have get everything done and live your life. You can’t just breathe and listen and expect that will solve your problems”.
I can tell you, it’s definitely not impractical. In fact, it’s the most practical approach.
The most practical approach: surrender
I know from personal experience. The “inhale, exhale, listen, obey” approach is something that God has led me through before. It’s how I got through high school with joy and peace and managed to juggle a social life, extracurricular activities and still achieve high grades.
It’s how I got through a year and a half of working/living on the Sunshine Coast, commuting and studying at university in Brisbane with joy.
There’s so much freedom in surrendering ‘to-do-lists’ and life demands to God and listening for His wisdom in how to approach it all.
God’s grace: repenting and turning around
I dropped the ball this semester. I fell into the trap of thinking that I could handle everything by myself. As much as that kills me to realise and as much as I regret and feel sick about losing that time and opportunity for joy and peace – God isn’t mad at me. I know that.
I know that in this moment, He is the Father and Friend who invites me to come sit back down next to him. He is the big, strong and kind Lion who invites me to nestle into Him, cry a bit if I need to and allow His comforting presence to take off the layers and layers of burdens that I’ve been trying to carry all by myself all semester.
This is an opportunity for a fresh start.
I just handed in my final assessment for my second year of university and I get to be proud of that. I get to be proud of how hard I’ve worked (albeit harder than I actually needed to) and how I pushed through the barriers of fear, sadness and exhaustion to get here.
Most importantly, I get to rejoice in the fact that God is so gracious.
Now that the Holy Spirit has so gently highlighted to me the DIY attitude I’ve had lately, I get to repent, turn around and start again.
I get to sit back next to God, listen to His guidance and fully embrace the next season of my life. With His grace, I can release the burdens and take on His wisdom. He knows the perfect way to approach all the things I need to do. All I have to do is inhale, exhale, listen and obey.
Caitlyn Furler is a lover of writing, music and people. She is a second-year university student, studying music, screenwriting and literature. She loves exploring culture and pushing herself to do braver and braver things.
Caitlyn Furler is a lover of writing, music and people. She is a third-year university student, studying music, screenwriting and literature. She loves exploring culture and pushing herself to do braver and braver things.