Dear incoming grad school student Jessy,

First of all, I know how closed you are to advice, especially any that comes from someone who approaches you with an attitude of, “I’m older, so I know.” It seems condescending, and I will strive to avoid that here.

You’re busy. So very very very busy. And you’re going to crash…eventually. If you start now, though, you can build a support system who will surround you and encourage you so you don’t break apart upon impact. Yes, that is contrary to your m.o.; you prefer to stay isolated when you’re suffering. But that is pride, not wisdom.

Today, you lead a Bible study full of moms of young kiddos, and you divulge embarrassing stuff every week. And it feels good. You’ve had to ask for their help on several occasions, not the least of these being when you had three little kids and couldn’t pull yourself away from the restroom longer than an hour due to a stomach bug that wouldn’t quit. These ladies have held you and prayed for you and loved you when you were pregnant with twins, the size of a manatee, wearing your husband’s pajamas and no makeup. You want this, but you haven’t known what it looks like. Now you do.

So check out your friends. You have a bad feeling about a few of them, but you’re not listening to yourself, and you’ll regret that. It’s not weak or rolling in holy bubble-wrap to have friends who love Jesus, and you don’t have to say goodbye to those who don’t. But if you take some time to write a mission statement for the next 5 years, align yourself with it, and hold yourself accountable to at least one Jesus-following woman who truly cares about you, you won’t end up having to do all the backtracking you’ll have to do otherwise. After all, it gets harder to hold it together – “it” includes relationships – the more you alienate people through your intense need for privacy.

Community is a blessing, so get involved with a small group at Genesis now, before you don’t have time for it. Genesis will be your church for quite a few years, so grow roots there. Get the relationships in place so you can rely on them in the tough spots ahead. This will teach you how to share openly, learn from others, live congruently, prioritize your relationship with Christ, and all kinds of other things you’re trying to do on your own. Think about that, Jess: You’re trying to be in community by yourself. That’s ridiculous.

But you don’t have anyone calling you out on it because you’re ducking and hiding. Let’s call this what it is: Fear. Listen, girl: The God you serve is not one of fear! He is a God of love and grace, and He’s bigger than all your bad habits, stupid decisions, and irrationality. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18) That isn’t a condemnation of your lack of progress in the journey – it’s a call to be perfected even more! He cherishes you and wants this for you! You are the daughter of the King!

So, before you head into not having a life for more years than you yet realize, get your walk with Jesus straight. Relinquish the crazy control you’re grasping for – your husband and kiddos (one of whom is banging his head against a glass cabinet right now) will teach you that you don’t really have it anyway! – and relax in the path He’s designed for you. It will be long, hard work, but you will enjoy it with the right people by your side.

By His grace & in His time,

–j

Jessica S. Marquis is the Founder & Editor of Verses 3 to 5. She resides in Phoenix, AZ, with her husband and three kiddos.

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