Written by Jessica Blondell
God has walked with me through so many milestones, and used so many circumstances as new beginnings. The common thread through each one was the relationships I made and the people God surrounded me with. One of the most significant periods He guided me through was my four years attending college.
I entered my senior year of high school thinking I had it all figured out. I would attend Ithaca College for Journalism on a scholarship, meet someone I could spend my life with, and get a job at National Geographic. Even though I believed in God and was raised in the Church, my faith took the back burner in my search for what I wanted in the future. That all changed when I ultimately decided to attend SUNY Plattsburgh instead. I still went for Journalism, still wanted to meet someone, and still had high hopes of traveling the world for National Geographic. God was patient as I figured out that I wanted – really needed – something so much bigger than my worldly goals.
My Freshman and Sophomore years were full of long days studying at the library, short weekends full of parties, and little space for God. I started attending a church on campus my freshman year, for a reason I’m still not sure I know. I just knew I wanted faith somewhere in my life. Thankfully, one of my friends was searching and discovering his faith at the same time. Once he found the church he would call home, he invited me, and I reluctantly went with him one Sunday during my Junior year. That was where I first experienced the power and presence of God through His Holy Spirit and the community of believers I found. I realized that God never left me, even through all the partying and ignoring Him for so long.
Not long after that church service, I attended my first small group. That was a foreign term to me, but I instantly fell in love with the people and the gathering of other believers once a week. I couldn’t get enough. It was the food that my spirit was craving for so long that I was attempting to find in worldly things.
College years are incredibly formative for many people, and I was no exception. I received bachelor’s degrees in Multimedia and Magazine Journalism, but I ended up working at a nonprofit in development and communications after school. I never met “the one,” but I made incredible friends and found a relationship in Jesus that will never fade and always fulfill me. I didn’t get to work at National Geographic, but I’ve been fortunate enough to travel internationally, share the Gospel, and see my work in other publications.
Even when I thought my life would take a completely different turn, God was guiding me exactly where I needed to be. The common denominator among all of the turns that led me back on the right path was the people who surrounded me. My friends, small group leaders, and pastors helped me discover more of who God is and reminded me of His goodness countless times. They helped me cross the graduation stage a renewed version of myself, and I’m grateful to look back on that milestone and remember them.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
As we think about milestones this week, I’m reminded that many milestones we celebrate are a result of great relationships – family, friends, mentors, counselors, and God. I’ve learned to hold good relationships close because I learn so much about God and His kingdom through each one. God has used them all, past and present, to carry me through every new beginning.