A letter to my goddaughter going to university

Photo: liz west, flickr

Photo: liz west, flickr

Dear lovely goddaughter

It’s the last week for you at home before you go off to university – and your life changes forever! I know that sounds daunting and exciting and nerve-wracking and scary but wonderful too.

We have loved watching you (admittedly from afar) develop into such a wonderful young woman – one who knows and loves God, who seeks to deepen in her faith. That in particular gladdens my heart as your godmother. To me, I seek to keep my faith the most important factor in my life. With the triune God as your friend, you’ll be able to face the challenges and to rejoice in the joys in the days and years to come. He’ll never leave you. He’s always there, gently sending his nudges of grace and whispers of love. I hope you continue to learn to sense the ways he communicates with you.

You going to university has made me think back to my leavings and beginnings, as I took the big step to leave high school and go to a Christian university, just a few miles from my parents’ home in Minnesota. I thought it was important to live on campus that first year, and so I did with two very close friends. Two blondes, in fact!  We had hard times and good times, and it was important for me to live away from home to establish my identity apart from my parents. To start thinking through issues of faith and belief – especially as I attended a Baptist university and grew up in the Roman Catholic church. And to learn how to live with roommates!

My faith took an almighty hit my sophomore year, on October 15th to be precise, when one of my closest friends from high school was killed in a car accident. It was a shattering time, and I wondered how a good God could have allowed such a horrible thing to happen. To be honest, all these years later I can’t totally answer that question. Who can? But as I probed and sobbed and searched, I found hints to answers to that question – the mystery of evil and a broken world and yet a loving God who works to redeem and shower grace.

My friend’s untimely death makes me think of one of the biggest pieces of advice that I can give you as you go off to university: Expect the unexpected. Now I pray so much that this will not mean not the death of a loved one – I definitely don’t wish that for you. But things probably won’t turn out the way you anticipate as you set off to your new home away from home, heart pounding, stomach a bit growly, your nerves a flutter.

Things may not turn out the way you hope they will, but they can turn out in a better way! I for one would have never believed that I’d be living in the UK these almost 19 years later, nor that I would have lived in the amazing city of Washington, DC, for ten years, which started with a semester my junior year. God has mysterious ways of working and moving, and helping us to learn and love and change. Sometimes we feel the changes are welcome; sometimes unwelcome. But he’s always with us, and life with him is an adventure.

So lovely goddaughter, know that we love you and will be praying for you. Your heart will be tugged in more directions now as you meet new friends and learn to love a new city. Come to visit us in London some weekend – you’re always welcome!

With love from us all, Amy

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