To the Student Who Didn’t Finish Strong

I see you.

You’re the one who has the support and prayers from friends and family to finish the semester strong.  You try to crack down, writing one more paper, doing one more presentation, staying up one more hour to study for one more exam.

But something happens.

There’s an issue with family or friends; a death or a falling out.  You become overwhelmed with outside projects.  Work becomes a priority.  You’re beyond stressed.  Depression, illness, and/or anxiety relentlessly consume your soul.  Suddenly, there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day for you to complete your needed tasks.

Your assignments start coming in late, then later, until you’re finally not turning them in at all while other projects accumulate.  Life seems to give you beat down after beat down without any signs of letting up.

You almost mentally, physically, and even spiritually check out for the semester, if you hadn’t done so already.

You drop or withdraw from class after class.  Or you try to finish your classes, but end with failing grades.  You thought you were at the finish line, only to find it was further away than you thought.

You couldn’t make it.

It’s difficult.  It’s painful.  I know.  I’ve been there.

And I empathize with you.

Personally, this semester was the worst I had ever been through.  I picked up so many projects and work shifts that I lost focus on my schoolwork.  I only completed one out of my four classes this semester.  I was so stressed out every day that twice I almost physically and mentally shut down.  My assignments and tasks were coming in late until I couldn’t do the assignments.  My spiritual life tanked.  Instead of running toward God, I ran away from Him (conflicting theologies, overthinking Him, thinking I can come to Him whenever I have “free time”).

I see you. And it’s okay.

Maybe you didn’t get to graduate on time.

Maybe you needed to change your major.

Maybe you had a personal crisis.

Friend, it’s all good.

Life has a way of throwing us curveballs, and oftentimes we are unprepared to take the swing.  We strike out time after time.  Sometimes we just want to give up and wonder what is the point.

But here’s the thing, friend.

This game that Life plays has multiple innings.  We don’t know when it will be our last, so we must always be prepared for whatever Life has for us.

Sure, you have been beat down by this semester.  But you get back up.

You may have failed, but you get back up.

Alfred J. Pennyworth said this in Batman Begins after Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Shadows burned down Wayne Manor and Bruce was lamenting over how he tried, but failed, to save Gotham:

Alfred:  Why do we fall, sir?

Bruce:  …

Alfred: So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.

You may have felt like a failure this semester or school year.  You may feel like Bruce Wayne in that moment.  But friend, here’s the thing about failure.

You can stay down, completely shut down and have an eternal pity party where no one is invited, or you can get back up, dust yourself off, and jump right back in with a newfound wisdom and passion to continue pursuing your goals.

Failure is NOT your destiny.  Failure shows your humanity and helps you become wiser if you let it.

It’s going to take some time to recover.  Don’t rush the process; take all the time you need.  Who knows how long it may be before you can continue?  But the important thing is that you continue.

bruce

You may seem to be a letdown to your friends and family.  You may seem to be a letdown to God.  Your enemies might gloat and enjoy your pain as they refresh themselves with your tears (I don’t know who does that, honestly).

I’m telling you here:  DON’T. GIVE. UP.

If your friends and family don’t believe in you, guess what?  I believe in you.

I have family and friends who believe in me, who will pray for and support me when I can’t see, hear, or think clearly.  You need a good support system to keep you going through the hard times as well as the good times.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. – Proverbs 17:17

Like the verse above says, you need friends who will love you at your messiest, at your worst, and you need people in your life who will lead you through difficult times, like this.

I want to challenge you with this:  Take some time and reflect on your goals and what went wrong this semester.  Have a friend or group of family and friends to help you out.  Also, take some time off.  Breathe.  Exercise.  Do fun things with people.  Get refreshed, refocus, and jump back in.  May you have someone in your life like Alfred to Bruce:

Bruce:  You still haven’t given up on me?

Alfred:  Never!

Friend, get back up, step back up to the plate, and get ready to hit that next curveball out of the park!  You only have one shot to play in the game of Life; make it a good one.

Until next time, stay hidden in the shadow of His wings,

 

– Jon Pannell

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