“I thought I was doing okay… with this new status of recent graduate. It wasn’t until school started and I realized I wasn’t going back that things became clearer.”Sarah Davies
I’ve heard of the summer slump, but I wasn’t prepared when September came and my relationship with God hit a rut. I’d graduated in June, had finished my undergrad, and was no longer returning to university, nor to my Power to Change family.
I thought I was doing okay throughout the summer with this new status of recent graduate. It wasn’t until school started and I realized I wasn’t going back that things became clearer.
My schedule was more free than it had been with my undergrad and I struggled with finding a routine. My prayer life and devotional time suffered (read: pretty much became nonexistent), and old sin habits that I thought were gone were rampaging my life again. I felt so far from God, compared to just a few months earlier when I thought I was at my closest I’d ever been with him.
Maybe you’re like me, maybe you’re a recent graduate and, to be honest, it’s been hard since graduating university. You no longer have a strong Christian community around you all the time and the schedule you’ve had for several years is no longer the same. You’re trying to figure out what you’re doing now that you’re done school.
I’d like to say that several weeks later I’ve got it figured out, but honestly, I don’t; I’m still trying to figure some of these areas out. Nevertheless, I want to offer you some suggestions for how we can maintain our relationship with God and with others now that we’re done university.
Your schedule has changed, so it only makes sense that you might need to look for different ways to connect with God.
During undergrad, I usually had morning classes, so I would go to campus early to do some readings and have a devotional before the day started. But now that I am a part-time student with classes at night, I tend to sleep in. So instead, I’m going to try devotional times at night.
I’m going to go back to journaling more.
This is something I had given up because of the number of papers I was writing during university. I’m also going to take the time to read some Christian non-fiction too; I have a list of about twenty books that were recommended to me, but am only now starting to read, because I didn’t have time to read for fun.The best part is, now, I don’t have to write papers on them!
Your commute to work could be used too: rather than listening to the mainstream radio station on your drive in, choose to listen to some worship music; listen to an audio version of the Bible on the bus; choose to have silence and spend some time talking with/ listening to God. It may take some time before you figure out what works best for you, but, if you are dedicated, you’ll find a routine again that allows you to spend time with God.
Not only do we need to be intentional with our relationship with God, we also need to be intentional with our relationships with our friends.
University made it fairly easy to maintain friendships, didn’t it? Whether you were in class or just sitting around, there was a high probability that you would run into someone you knew. Now it takes effort.
You most likely won’t be seeing your friends as often as you did, but you can still work to maintain the friendships. Perhaps it’s having a potluck dinner every couple of months with those who are still in the same city or arranging a Skype call. Technology and social media have definitely made it easier to remain in touch with people, but effort is still important.
Do you have any old friendships that you put on the back burner while you were at university? Maybe it was because you were in different cities, or perhaps it was because you had a limited amount of time. This is a great time to rekindle those friendships. You could reach out and grab coffee with someone you haven’t spoken to recently and see what’s been happening in his or her life since you last talked.
Where is it that you can grow and serve now that you’re no longer involved with Power to Change? Is there a small group you could get involved with at your church? Could you help out with the children’s or youth ministry? Maybe it’s not even within your church; maybe there is a ministry or social issue that God has placed on your heart in your city with which you could get involved.
Word of caution: be ready for God to change your plans if they don’t align with his.
I was planning on starting a young adults’ small group at my church, but it never took off. This wasn’t because I didn’t try but rather, because God had other places for me to be used by him. I’m now plugged into a small group with a range of ages—I share with them the things I learned while at university and they giving me their perspective after having a relationship with God for many years. I’m learning from them and they’re learning from me.
Try things with open hands trusting that God will either keep you there, or may reveal to you somewhere where you can better serve him.
Fellow graduate, if you’ve struggled with life after university, know that you are not alone. I and countless others have had troubles trying to figure out what our relationship with God looks like afterwards. As challenging as it is, there is also excitement and anticipation.
Although I definitely miss my school and seeing my friends all the time, I’m excited to see how God will use me.
Do a schedule reboot, be intentional with your friendships, and get involved in your church and community. We may not be helping university students discover Jesus anymore, but there are countless people in our communities and workplaces that need to discover him too.