College stripped me naked.
My insecurities unveiled.
My fears revealed.
My confidence hidden.
My joy masked.
My plans rewritten.
My safety net removed.
My stability stolen.
My dreams questioned.
I can still feel it- the anxiety, the fear, the despair. Pieces of my heart breaking in sync with every tear that ran down my cheek. My breaths uneven and shaky as I did my best to gain composure.
A feeling of loneliness I didn’t know existed overtook me as I watched my family drive out of sight. Them headed back to Colorado, and me stuck in Tennessee.
And so began my college career. Three years that would stretch me to the point of almost breaking. A time where my heart would be completely smashed and broken, and then slowly be put back together. A period in my life that would completely redefine the way I see people, the world, and my Father.
When I said goodbye to the people that made my life wonderful and my world go round, I said goodbye to everything and everyone that mattered. Everything that made me comfortable. Everything that made me happy.
I had formed and nourished relationships for eighteen years. These people knew the ins and outs of me. What made me cringe. What made me grin. They knew my dreams and desires. They knew my passions. They were there to cheer with me when I succeeded. They were there to hold my hand when I needed to cry. They saw my life play out. Every single part of it. They knew me.
And then I had to say goodbye to these people. The people that had poured into me. The people that had raised me.
Suddenly, with no one who knew me, I had to start over.
I had no idea the process that would unfurl before me.
You see, when my people were no longer beside me, I realized that a life without people who know you is no life at all. I knew that in order to survive these next three years I would have to let people know me, and that was a terrifying thought.
So there I was. A girl desperately seeking to find friends. Friends who would want to know me. Friends I wanted to know me.
Faithful as always, my Father brought them to me.
But like every relationship, these friendships started out with surface level conversations, awkward laughs, and plenty of forced hugs. I was hooked at the hip to both of them. Not because I was comfortable with them or because they helped me be my best self, but because I so desperately wanted friends that knew me, and I had to start somewhere.
You see, I came from a life where everyone knew me because of doing life with me. Therefore, it wasn’t natural for me to intentionally let someone in and purposefully share with them the real me. I had never had to put that kind of effort into a relationship. Before, it had just happened- naturally and beautifully. But if I wanted deep and real friendships with these two friends, I didn’t have time to let it just happen. I had to put the work in. Had to be vulnerable. Had to be intimate.
Hesitant at all of this, I put up my natural defenses and stuck to sarcasm and confidence. I got to know them and spent time with them, but didn’t understand the gift that being truly intimate would bring me. It wasn’t until I truly experienced it with my Father, that I finally realized the beauty of it all.
Living at home had been easy. Life had always been good. I loved my Father deeply, but because of being surrounded by people at home, I hadn’t ever been forced to run to Him alone out of sheer desperation. I hadn’t ever had to rely solely on Him. I knew He was present. I knew He loved me. I knew He was good. I loved to talk to Him. He was in every part of my life, but the true and real intimacy wasn’t there. I only know that now, because of how my relationship with Him has deepened.
With no one who truly knew me in Tennessee, it was Him I ran to. In full surrender, I ran into His outstretched arms desperate to feel comforted, heard, and cared for. It was in His arms I found those things.
My time with Him in the morning was cherished and treasured. A day without it was never as good. Resting in His presence calmed my heart, reenergized my spirit, and brought me endless joy. It was pure gold.
Prayer became my best friend as I learned He cared about the little things as well as the big things. That He would actually listen to me and if I was quiet, sometimes I could hear Him speak to me. That He knew the desires of my heart better than I knew them, and He could be trusted in every way. Praying over it all was how I lived in peace. When I told Him my fears, desires, and hurts, He took them out of my heart and replaced them with His goodness.
Although He always knew every part of me, willingly letting Him in to every corner and dark place was freeing. Without feeling the need to ever hide or ever impress, time with Him was fully refreshing and uplifting. It was real. Completely real. It was because of this, I was able to see what true intimacy was. How beautiful it was. How life giving it was.
And I wanted that with my friends.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
Hiding who I was got me nowhere. It wasn’t getting me any closer to those glorious and beautiful friendships I so badly desired. Hiding the work my Father had done in my life, the ways I had been healed and renewed, and the dreams and passions I had for my future was exhausting and useless.
We are called to be real. We are called to come out from hiding and let the world see us. See us in our broken state. Know our biggest insecurities, deepest fears, and worst flaws. Know our passions, hopes, and dreams. Know the real us.
It is only through our vulnerability and willingness to get intimate, that others can see the work our Father is doing in us. Through being real, we can show the world the blessings He has poured out on us. The ways He has healed us. The strength He has provided us with. The friend He is to us.
When we keep ourselves hidden, our hearts masked and locked away, we are taking our Father’s most beloved possession and putting it behind closed doors. We are His child. We are His treasure. He wants us to be known. He wants the world to see the work He does in us and the miracles He performs through us.
“For we are God’s masterpiece.”Ephesians 2:10
You are a masterpiece.
Every flaw. Every sin. Every fear. Every insecurity. Every mistake.
Every dream. Every hope. Every passion.
Every single piece of you making the masterpiece what it is- beautiful, extravagant, and glorious.
It is through vulnerability and intimacy that we can form real relationships, make Him known, and live a beautiful life.
In time I did this with my friends. I shared with them the deepest and most hidden parts of me. I poured out my heart and soul to them hoping and praying they would understand. I was honest, and when I needed prayer I asked for it. I let them in. I let them know me.
And now they are some of the people who know me best.
Choosing to trust them and do life with them was the best decision I ever made.
Both of these friends have been constant vessels through which my Father has spoken to me. They have uplifted me in every drought. They have encouraged me in every moment of doubt. They have made me experience joy and the world in a whole new way. They have prayed passionately for me. They have loved me unconditionally.
I made it through college because of them.
They know me and still love me. They are true representations of how our Father desires us to live life.
It is through these relationships I have come to love My Father, His world, and His people even more.
It is because of my dear friends I better understand myself and the love my Father pours out on me each day.
It is because of them, I have seen how powerful true intimacy is.
My insecurities trampled on.
My fears spoken.
My confidence found in Him.
My joy made new.
My plans made perfect by Him.
My safety net no longer needed.
My stability strengthened.
My dreams made known.
My heart unveiled.
College clothed me in intimacy.
About the Author
Hi! My name is Morgan Colander. I am a senior at Lee University in Tennessee studying to be an elementary teacher. I am attempting to survive these college years as I learn to rely more on God and less on myself while being surrounded by new opportunities and decisions. College has presented itself with its difficulties- college budget, college dorms, college food, an endless list of things to do, and plenty of homesickness- but through it all, I have never been more dependent on God and realized how incapable I am to do life without Him. God, family, and friends are all I need to survive in life but some junior mints, a hike up a mountain, laughter, and some sarcasm definitely add some joy to the journey.