This is for all you college kids out there, all the ones who are learning what it’s like to color outside the lines, so to speak, without Mom and Dad there to correct you.
College is awesome. It’s a time to make friends and stay up late and leave behind whatever baggage you got lassoed with in high school and discern just how many packages of ramen noodles you can buy with the ten dollars you have left to your name (not counting the change in the couch and between the car seats).
It’s equally awful. It’s the time when everything you learned as a young person is challenged. Was the world really created in six days? Why can’t two people of the same gender marry each other? Isn’t living together the best way to figure out if two people are compatible and ready for marriage?
College is the time when you decide you want to push the limits. You want to be different. You want to be counter-cultural. You want to be the salmon that swims against the current. You want to break free of what your parents taught you, wear purple skinny jeans and hot pink bow ties, and stick it to the man, even if you don’t even really know what that means.
But after a while, that’s not enough. You have to push the boundaries even more.
And so you start to mimic your friends, arguing with your parents and skipping church, just because you can.
And then you discover that’s not enough either, so you start to turn your back on what you know is right. Raised to believe a marriage is between a man and a woman? So 42 seconds ago. Grew up holding out for your spouse? No more. Lived your first 18 years thinking your parents were curmudgeonly but actually loved you? Get real.
And soon, before you even realize it, you’ve flipped it and reversed it, now so in tune with all the cultural chaos that you, for once, feel like you fit in.
And that’s the big lie the culture feeds you.
Because now you do fit in. You are one of them.
And that’s not so counter-cultural after all. Now you are the culture.
Just like everyone else.
So if you really want to be different, if you want to stick it to the man or the government or your parents, if you want to be set apart from the crowd like a salmon swimming against the current:
- Go to church. Few people your age do.
- Get married young. Marriage is awesome. #truestory
- Know what you believe, and speak about it. Most people don’t.
- Listen to your parents. They actually do have your best interests at heart.
- Study. College isn’t a gigantic ball pit. It’s there for your benefit.
- Talk to your pastor. He isn’t scary. He actually wants to shepherd you.
- Reevaluate your friends. Weed out the ones who aren’t helping you move forward.
- Work hard. Really hard. When you go to find a job, that won’t go unnoticed. (Read: You’ll actually get one.)
- Wear purple skinny jeans. Just stay away from those awful ones that bag around your knees.
It’s okay to color outside the lines a bit, to push the boundaries when it comes to discovering for yourself what God’s Word has to say about life, vocation, marriage, and truth.
But if you want truly to be different, to stand out from the herd, to be the change you want to see in the world, stick to what works: Church. Pastors. Family. Truth.
Because if you do, you still stand out like a sore thumb . . . and that will make college more awesome than you ever knew it could be.