As I no longer possess what might be considered a “young” mind, I commissioned one of the college students involved with University Ministries at UPC to share the burning questions in the lives of college students. Betsy Floyd is a sophomore at UW where she is majoring in English. She’s actively involved with UMin, with her sorority, and serves as a leader for YoungLife Capernaum, a ministry to young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Take a looksee at our convo:
Janie Stuart: Betsy, inquiring minds want to know: What’s going on in that beautiful head of yours? What questions are on the hearts and minds of college students today?
Betsy Floyd: There are lots and lots of questions swirling around, and they all have to do with figuring ourselves out. The classic standby: What am I going to do with my life? But along with that, who am I going to marry? How am I going to be fulfilled? What am I going to contribute to society? How much money am I going make? Where am I going to live? And if I don’t figure the answers out to all of those burning questions during these pivotal four years, I’m dun fur. 1 The rest of my life will be in shambles.
JS: Wow, that sounds like pressure from all sides: solve the equation to a life of happiness or you are destined to live forever in Strug-town. 2 I thought college was supposed to be fun. No?
BF: True, there is also pressure to have a blast. In the midst of finding answers to all the life-defining questions, I often realize, “But wait! This is supposed to be the best time of my life, don’t forget to go slightly crazy and sow your wild oats. Go jump in the fountain at 2am! Run pants-less through campus and say you did it for kids out there who can’t afford pants!”
JS: So, it seems the biggest question for you and other college students is how to be both the best possible version of a mature adult who knows exactly who they are and where they are going while also being the craziest, most charming party animal one can be. How has your faith played a part as you try to figure all this out?
BF: The biggest question looming over all of this is the one I really want to answer: Who has God created me to be? Whenever I find myself bogged down under the pressure of the future and the pressure of living it up, I end up turning to God for clarity. What I’ve learned as a college student over the past year and a half is that God’s desire is that I might know peace in whatever circumstance I find myself.
JS: Is that something like what Paul writes to the Philippians, to be content no matter what life throws at you? (Philippians 4:11–12)
BF: Something like that. As a college student, this means figuring out how to accept the chaos and the craziness of the unknown, when the only thing you can truly know is God’s presence. It means instead of trying to control what life throws at you, surrendering to what God’s plan might be for you. It means instead of waiting to discover the answers to all the questions and then acknowledging God’s presence, noticing God’s presence while you’re finding the answers.
JS: It sounds like you might have had an experience or two that has helped you learn all the wisdom you just threw down on us.
BF: When I started leading YoungLife Capernaum a few months ago, I had zero experience with folks who have disabilities. And I was freaked out. Mostly because I was convinced I would not be able to talk with the young people involved and that I would have nothing to offer. I kept asking myself, “What the heck am I doing here? I have no clue what to do.” Even though I was convinced everyone there was staring at me with a look that said something similar, I kept going, desperately praying for God to help. Slowly, my heart began to soften and I noticed somehow God was at work in me.
JS: In what ways did you see God at work in you, and through all that self-doubt, how did you experience God’s peace?
BF: Well, the fact that I kept going. If it were up to me, I would have quit a long time ago. I haven’t been perfect as a leader, and it’s definitely been an experience of trial and error, but the attitude God has given me has allowed me to learn from the kids at Young Life Capernaum. Recently, while leading, I moved from the seat I was in to another part of the room, and the girl I was sitting next to, Asia, said, “Wait, I wanted to sit next to you!” It was like God was hitting me over the head saying, “Hey dummy, they like you being here, all you had to do was show up.”
JS: So, what’s the answer to the burning questions on the minds of college students?
BF: Surrender. God will show up. And don’t take yourself so seriously all the time! God’s at work if we surrender our lives to him and simply pay attention.
1. That’s “done for” in old-school English.
2. Strug-town: a time of ongoing struggle, usually of the sort outside of one’s control.