One Year In College vs. One Year Out: How We've Seen Jesus

This post is in collaboration with the wonderful Erica Boden. A few months ago, I got a message through my site from Erica. She told me she had stumbled on my blog and that she loved it. Let me just tell you how absolutely heart-warming it is to hear that from a total stranger-- it absolutely made my day and encouraged my heart so much. Since then, Erica has written for Rethink and become someone I call a friend! I'm so excited to bring you this post written partly by her and partly by me.


After one year at college, how have you seen Jesus move?

Erica Boden is from Cincinnati, Ohio and is a current student at the University of Alabama. She loves work-out clothes, breakfast, and flaws. Few things bring her more joy than being able to talk about Jesus with friends, family, and strangers. Proudly Type A, you can catch her blunt and semi-humorous tweets at @e_bodes.

Erica Boden is from Cincinnati, Ohio and is a current student at the University of Alabama. She loves work-out clothes, breakfast, and flaws. Few things bring her more joy than being able to talk about Jesus with friends, family, and strangers. Proudly Type A, you can catch her blunt and semi-humorous tweets at @e_bodes.

How have I seen Jesus my freshman year? That’s kind of a long list. How have I not seen Jesus my freshman year? Well, that list would be nonexistent.

For starters, I see Jesus in the sky. No, not in the cliché sense of seeing and feeling The Lord physically watching over me, but I see His creation. Being from Cincinnati, it is truly not a myth what you hear about the Alabama skies—sometimes I swear to you Jesus just squeezed an entire bottle of blue food coloring out amongst the clouds.

I see Jesus in the way that my parents let me go to a college eight hours away. I see His grace in the fact that they would love to have me closer, but they trust and care about me enough to know that what’s best for me and my well-being may take precedence over proximity.

I felt God holding me during the first few weeks of confusion. He dried my tears and made me feel less alone, as I sobbed in a dorm room after watching my parents drive away. He made the days easy and the home sickness disperse. He was next to me as I stood there awkwardly when I learned I got 130 new sorority sisters; He reassured me that you do not miss out on the college experience by not going out every night. On the occasions when I did, however, He was supporting me as I turned down drink after drink, half-smiling and acting like I wasn’t drained.

He’s provided people in my life who love Him, challenge me, and inspire my heart. With every leap I took, He met me halfway; every stumble I encountered, He picked me up.

When I was sick and extremely stubborn, I saw Jesus in my friends and the way they forced me to go to the Student Health Center. I saw His truth in their words and the way they shoved me headfirst in their car as I was resisting; I saw His love in the sacrificial way they gave up their Saturday, gas, love and energy for me. Jesus was found in the car rides, late-night ice cream runs, and the “thanks-for-saving-me” moments. His reliance has been found in the way that friends have graciously allowed me to borrow their cars, and His selflessness in the way they spend hours curling my hair and about ten minutes on their own.

When I busted through the office doors crying, Jesus was in the words of my favorite Dean, reassuring me that no one would die if I got a B in a course, and that nothing is ever final until it’s finished.

When Jesus said “It is finished,” you guys, it is finished. Whether it’s my freshman or senior year, my first or last breath, it is finished. Jesus finished it all and that is the truth I rest in and have seen play out, my entire year. Glory to Him for a freshman year that was fulfilling and fantastic.


After one year out of college, how have you seen Jesus move?

Rachel Dawson is a writer, believer, adventurer and passion-follower. She gets to be an unwavering champion at her day job at UMFS and a world-changer with Rethink Creative Group. She loves taking naps, cooking gluten-free vegan food and constantly doodling.

Rachel Dawson is a writer, believer, adventurer and passion-follower. She gets to be an unwavering champion at her day job at UMFS and a world-changer with Rethink Creative Group. She loves taking naps, cooking gluten-free vegan food and constantly doodling.

When I left the university everyone calls the happiest place on earth a year ahead of schedule, leaving behind a ministry I had absolutely immersed myself in and countless rich and meaningful friendships I had deeply invested in, I wondered how Jesus would top that. I wondered how I would encounter Him more than I did at that school with those people.

I graduated, and I came back to a town I never liked, a town full of ghosts of old memories and broken relationships. I expected to find people I didn't like in the stores I frequented, I expected to get stuck without a job, I expected to never find true friendships. What I didn't expect, though, was to Jesus move like He did.

I've seen Jesus in the loving hands and care of my parents after a big knee surgery, showing me that I'm never alone. I've seen my flesh fail, but I've seen Him remain constant and unfailing. 

I've seen Jesus open doors I had only ever dreamed about, and I've seen Him hold my hand and lead me through them. I've seen Jesus create opportunities for me that I was never even remotely qualified for, and I've seen Him work through my weaknesses and be my strength. 

I've seen Him near me, felt His closeness, and rested in His intimacy as I moved into a new apartment and found how to be independent and rely fully on Him. I've seen Him move in my heart in the stillness and the aloneness. I've seen Him work to create beauty in things that feel a lot like ashes sometimes.

I've seen Him in the beauty of a town I had almost given up on. I've seen Him in the city skyline from the overlook. I've seen Him in the fiery sunsets after a day of clouds and rain. I've seen Him in the buds and blooms and new life sprouting all around me this spring. 

I've seen Him in communities that are different from any I've ever known, but that are also rich with hearts that are seeking and asking and yearning for more. I've seen Him in not just the physical body of the church, but the selfless and authentic living and growing body of the Church. I've seen Him in the attention of those who are older and wiser than me, yet want to pour in to me and walk beside me as I grow.

I've seen Him in the Easter story like I've never seen Him before. I felt more wrecked by the way He sacrificed everything for me on Good Friday, I felt more desire for nearness in the waiting of that Saturday, and I felt more complete joy and total gladness on that glorious Easter Sunday than ever before. I've seen the Spirit make Scripture come to life and my Abba captivate my soul with His truth and love.

Glory to Him for giving undeserved grace and unending love.


We want to hear from you! Comment with how you've seen Jesus move in your own story; we would love to celebrate that with you.