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10 Tips for Leaving the Nest Well: What I Wish I Knew When I was Going to College

There is nothing you can do to prepare yourself (or your kids) for the craziness that is college. Flying away from the nest is no easy thing, but it's also a beautiful thing. I want to share with you something I've learned in the years since I've left college, something that I've worked on with the college women I've mentored. It's probably not something you'd thing. It's also not something I the world will tell you, or you'll find out your first few days there. But I believe it's the secret to navigating this season in life well. 

There will be storms. There will be rocky times. There will be mountaintops. There will be valleys. There will be smooth times. There will be everything. So what do you need when you are being faced with everything under the sun? A rock.

This rock is something I didn't know I had access to in college, kinda like my ADD. The doctor told me in my mid-thirties, "You probably would have done a lot better in school had you know this." No kidding. I want to share this with you now, before you are further along the way...

Here it is. Yes, it's your Healthy Voice. Your Healthy Voice is the voice of unconditional love that is with you as you step into this new journey. It will be hard to hear or even believe - especially if you feel fearful or ashamed - but it is there. You've just got to listen for it. It is real. It is pure and it is not you. It's greater than you and anything you can tell yourself. It's the power of God in your life. He is your Healthy Voice, and he wants you to tune into Him. Before you roll your eyes, I want you to bear with me for a minute. If you believe me when I say to you that God will be with you this whole time, wouldn't you rather know how to access Him, rather than turn away from Him (especially if He's there anyway?)

Right. So, here's the deal. It's going to be hard to hear him so this is a list of some of the ways you can tap into His voice and power in your life. They are ways that have helped me and other young people like you, and if they can help us get peaceful - they can help you too. If you are struggling mentally or emotionally it will be especially helpful. But there is something very different about this Healthy Voice.

I am not talking to you about making sure you pray, or checking the box of going to church on Sunday. I am not talking about religion. Whatever you do in your religion, is your business. I'm talking about your relationship with God. It is more important than any other relationship you will have in your life and the sooner you connect, the more content and satisfied you will be. But the key is pursuing it. Not PERFORMING for Him. But pursuing Him, letting Him into your life and heart. That's where the magic will happen. He'll be with you in everything - your grades, your other relationships, your passion and purpose, your everything. To me, there is not better tip you can get in life than accessing the power of God in your life. So, here's the list below. When you start beating yourself up for not being good enough, you read these and get out of your head. Btw, remember that I had no idea of ANY of these when I was in college. So, even in the midst of the madness, if you can use these tips? You will be well on your way to hearing the voice of God in your life.

#1. Make a relationship with God a priority. This means finding ways to connect to him everywhere (I will give you those). Remember, it doesn't have to be about checking a box. He is with you all the time. Take a moment in the mornings just to reflect and connect to His love. Get in the Word. It will do wonders. It is powerful powerful. You can get a devotional book like Jesus Calling or the Bible App to look at the verse of the day everyday. If you do find him in church on Sundays, awesome. Try to find him everywhere the rest of the week. He wants you to know he's with you at every moment. "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." James 4:8 ESV

#2. Find your tribe.  They will support you, encourage you, comfort you and walk with you. They will go deep when you need to go deep. Be yourself and you'll find them. Look for the ones who have a similar faith to you and understand that God is part of your life (in relationship). Look for girls who maybe have shared parts of your brokenness with you and just get you. Know that friends are in your life for three reasons - a reason, a season or a lifetime. Sometimes it helps to repeat that to yourself when you can't figure out what's going on with a friendship. Maybe they've got drama and you can be there for them, but remember their issues are theirs and yours are yours. "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Proverbs 27:17 NLT

#3. Find your place. I'm not talking about your dorm room. I'm talking about a place somewhere on campus that you can go and just be still, get away from all the madness and take a breath. It's in the stillness that we connect with God. I know at ND for a lot of people it's the grotto and the lakes, but not everywhere has a beautiful reflective place. But it doesn't have to be perfect. It just gives you peace because you are going to need it. "Then Jesus said, 'Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest for a while." Mark 6:31 NLT

#4. Get outside. Nature is going to be supremely important. It's where we get to go outside and realize in the middle of the madness, that God is bigger than all the drama or the grades and he'll take care of you. I don't care if you have to look up at the blue sky, the clouds, the rain, the grass, or a bird. Whatever you gotta do, just let nature be a part of how you connect to God. Maybe you like to walk or run outside. Maybe you have a hiking trail. Whatever you have, nature is the place you go when life is getting you down and you can say, "If God's got that bird, he's got me." "Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?" Matthew 6:26-27 NLT

#5. Be kind to your body. Please. Please. Please do this. When it says, your body is a temple in the Bible. It doesn't mean you are supposed to have a perfect body. It means God is in you if you believe. Your body isn't yours to push to perfection with diets, workouts, cleanses, whatever. God created you. Be nice to you. This isn't about eating perfectly. It isn't about obsessing about your body, what you put into it or how you move it. Yes, you need to move and eat well and discipline your body. But God created your body and it is beautiful. So embrace it. Be nice to it.  Know this too, it literally says in the Bible not to obsess about food. "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life - whether you have enough food or drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food and your body more than clothing?" Matthew 6:25 NLT and before you make exercising everything, read this: "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:8 NIV

#6. Be Gentle on Your Mind. Friends, your mind is a BATTLEFIELD. Some of us it's just some negative thoughts we've got to deal with. Others of us have been through stuff that has made our mind EXTRA hard to navigate. I'm talking about trauma that wrecks us and makes us react to everything out of the pain we haven't dealt with. Your mind will play tricks on you in this area. Do not let it. Man, did it take me a while to figure this out. It was never about my workouts or my diet, but my MIND. I had to deal with my MIND. So if you DO need t deal with yours, do NOT deal with it alone, especially if you feel like you've got some kind of mental illness. It is NOTHING to be ashamed of. That's just the stigma talking. And more importantly, once you get on the journey of mental health, it's not "fixing" your mind that works. It's getting in the Word and hearing what God says about you that holds for the long haul. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will able to attest and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2 NIV

#7.  Don't stuff your inner pain. We've all got something that broke us or someone that hurt us. Maybe it's a friendship. Maybe it's a parent. Maybe it's an event like your parent's divorce or a death. Whatever it is, it broke your heart in some way and you've tried for a long time to fix it yourself. My friend, you gotta let yourself feel it. But you don't need to let yourself feel it alone. #1. God is there it comfort you, #2. God's put people there to comfort you, #3. You CAN get help to walk through it and know that no matter how painful God will be with you. But the further you run from it, or try to stuff it or fix it, the more it will settle in. So if you are in school and got pain you are dealing with, REACH OUT for help. I know you will be tempted to reach for the bottle or the food or the boys. But when you find they aren't satisfying you, or worse - hurting you, remember who will quench your thirst and feed you. "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ."  2 Corinthians:1-5 NLT

#8. Find your WORTH. Not in things or in grades or in friends or in social status or in your likes on your social media page. Find it in Christ. If you don't believe me, here's a song and a video you HAVE to watch.  You Are More

So instead of trying to fix you to be good enough, let HIM love you and help you realize you are more.

Here are two verses for you with this: "For I know the pans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

"But he said to me,'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

#8. BE a Light and SEEK the light. I mentioned this earlier but it's supremely important. You aren't alone. In your life, there will always be people walking it with you. Some will be a little behind you. Some will be right beside you. Some are far enough ahead that they can mentor you or coach you through this crazy time in your life. Help those who are a little behind you. Be a light in the darkness. Encourage those who walk beside you, and not only that - lean on each other. Do not stay in your head, or stuck in your feelings, or in your stress for too long! Talk to you friend who you trust the most! There will be some others who know you the most and can remind you of who you are. Stay connected to them. And then there will be those who see your potential in you more than you, and can guide you through the process. Do no hesitate to find a mentor or a Life coach to guide you. There is no reason to muscle your way through this alone. "No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." Matthew 5:15-16 NLT

#9. Find a place to worship God through Music and Fellowship. Although I'm smack dab in between Generation X and Millennials, I relate most to Millennials to I'm just going to reference "us" in this one because music is an area where I feel most connected to you guys. We all know that our generation is into music. We live for it. We connect through it.  It's not just about music choice. It's about what music moves you. Here's the other thing. What you listen to affects you. I know it's hard not to listen to all the booty shaking music in college, but in your own time, a great way to connect to God is through music. If you haven't heard of Hillsong United, just find them on Spotify and start listening. Your soul will move. I can listen to their music anywhere and spend time in God's presence. That's what worship is all about. Spending time in God's presence. If you can find a church or a fellowship on campus where you can do that, awesome. Even better, because you are doing it in community. God wants us in community, not alone on the journey. But make sure if you find a place, it fits you. If religion and repetition, doesn't, there is another place. Find music. That's what captured my soul even deeper for God. Music. Don't underestimate it. "Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him singing with joy." Psalm 100:2 NLT

#10. MOST IMPORTANTLY, and this will be so hard to do, but - do your best to focus on God. Keep going back to Him as you source. Yes it will be hard, but the more you do it, the more you will realize only He can satisfy your thirst and hunger. These verses should help you with that. 

"Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst." John 6:35

"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said,'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'" John 7:38

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

"Therefore since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, endured the cross, disregarding it's shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne." Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT

GODSPEED FRIENDS AND HAVE A GREAT SCHOOL YEAR STUDENTS!! PARENTS, Hope this helps you too for your own journey! Please come back this semester for more good stuff geared towards you!!