Uncertain faith after college
by Megan Nuehring
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
I recently graduated from college. Now I am looking for a job, a place to live, friends, and most importantly, figuring out my vocation. If there was ever a time when I felt vulnerable, this is it.
When I apply for jobs, I feel like I am handing my entire life over to someone else. They hold the power to either grant an opportunity to pursue a dream or deny me the chance to follow a path I have been preparing for at college. Not many activities are more nerve-racking than finding a job, spending hours on the application and ultimately learning someone else was more qualified for the position. It’s during these times that I feel that I have to convince myself to trust God.
Throughout college, I was involved in many activities, multiple jobs and internships, and constantly surrounded by a community of friends. I was having the time of my life. I also found a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God and began to discern my call as a child of God. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” That verse never felt more right. I was never more certain that this was the place where God planned for me to learn, achieve, fall in love, find my faith, and use my talents.
I grew up thinking that after college I was going to be instantly financially successful, happy, and debt-free. But so far, it has been a struggle to find a job. While I am still happy enjoying time and travels with my family, I am not feeling successful or like I am moving into the adult world that I thought I was prepared for upon graduation.
The transition from the time when I was confident in my faith and surrounded by roommates and friends to a time when I am living at home and without work to keep me busy has been difficult.
During this transition, my faith wavered and my confidence in my talents disappeared. I was relying so much on the praise of others that I had lost confidence in what I was able to do for others and how I was able to use my gifts. I was forgetting to thank God for the amazing talents I have been given, and I was forgetting to have confidence in my faith and in God’s plan.
Then it occurred to me that maybe the problem is that it’s my plan that is not working out. God does have a plan for me, a plan even better than the one I had for myself.
After a couple of months, I was asked to fill a position as an interim youth director at my home church–a job I thought I had no desire to apply for, let alone actually accept. But I realized that through this opportunity, God has provided me a chance to grow and examine my own faith. I will have time to regain the amazing peace and joy I feel when I know my Lord is present.
The best cure for my uncertainty was my faith, but I was failing to see the answer was in close proximity to me.
Through the countless tears, bad dreams, and thoughts of loneliness following graduation, God was alongside me every moment. God led me to members of my congregation, my parents, my fiancé, and the Bible. Through meditation, and conversations with others I was able to rediscover my faith again. The best advice I received was given to me by a member of my congregation. She said, “Megan, you aren’t breathing, and if you don’t take time to breath you are going to stress yourself out. You need to take time to breathe.” These were the perfect words for me then and these words are the ones I repeat each time I feel down or worry that I have lost my way.
I hope my story will reach someone else who is in a similar position. Someone who is struggling to find a job, find someone to love, find happiness. If you are feeling as if you have lost your faith, or that God has forgotten you, talk to your pastor, pray, or go out for coffee with a friend. Regaining confidence in yourself and your faith is not something that you can do alone, so I encourage you to reach out to others and let them help you find the steps back to faith.
God does have a plan for everyone. God is on our side and is always for us, never against us. Even when it seems like God is not there, you can be sure that God is. God is the one who goes before us, comes behind us, and walks with us. It may take time to realize, but when times are tough just remember you need to breathe.
1. What are your God-given talents and how can you use them to serve God and others?
2. In times of uncertainty who have you turned to? If you have not turned to anyone, ask yourself what keeps you from turning to someone. Identify at least one person you could turn to in times of trouble.
3. Think of a time when you felt your faith was weak or you felt forgotten by God. What was it about that time that made you feel the way you did? How did you overcome that obstacle?
Awesome and powerful God, you have blessed us with an amazing life. You have blessed us with struggle, heartache, success, and joy. Help us to understand the beauty of your gifts and how we can share them with others. Although we cannot physically see you, we know you are always with us. Continue to guide us and watch over us as we continue on our journey throughout life. Amen.
Megan Nuehring is a recent graduate of Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa.