Few people went through life changes as dramatically as David did. He went from being a shepherd boy to a warrior to a runaway, and finally, to a king. Talk about having your life flipped upside down! One year ago, I related to David more than ever before when I graduated college and immediately moved to a brand-new city to officially begin the new journey of adulthood. I remember sitting in the middle of the living room of my new apartment for my first night alone as an adult. Overwhelmed with a tidal wave of fears and emotions, I sat clutching my childhood plushy and thinking to myself, What is happening? It was like I was on a roller coaster I had spent my whole life standing in line for. I didn’t know how to process college ending or how to approach the changes that come with adulthood, and I had absolutely no clue what role God played in this.
The ups and downs of the newfound change in my life reminded me of David and his own roller-coaster journey. With that in mind, I found myself turning to the Psalms for comfort. In reading David’s Psalms, I have found someone who can put words to what I was going through. Here are some things that we can learn from a journey through the Psalms about this new phase of life.
1. It’s okay to be sad.
Graduating college means you are losing a lot of what you know; you are losing a version of yourself. It can be hard to give ourselves permission to be sad. Today’s culture often associates the feeling of sadness with weakness. One of the biggest mistakes we can make is pushing down all of the sad feelings.
Read Psalm 42.
Many people struggle with talking to God about sadness or any other negative emotion due to the fear of disappointing God. Ironically, if you read through the Psalms, you will see that out of 150 Psalms, 68 of them are psalms of lament. Clearly, David had no problem talking to God about the emotions he was feeling.
Throughout Psalm 42, David is honest with God about what he’s going through, but he also makes a point to praise God through the pain.
In verse 5 as well as verse 11 of the psalm he says, “Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil?” (CSB). But then, he immediately follows this with declaring his hope and praise to God saying, “Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God.”
How great is it that we can be honest with God about what we are going through and praise him at the same time? So let yourself mourn the fact that a chapter of your life is ending. Follow David’s example and be honest with God about your feelings, but end with the praise that we can have hope in him even in the hard times.
2. Amidst all of the change, God remains the same.
When you get dizzy or start to lose your balance, you’re told to find a spot to focus on. You fix your eyes on one spot that doesn’t move to keep yourself steady when it feels like everything else around you is turning.
Leaving college can feel like the world is being turned upside down. Everything changes so fast; it feels like being pushed into this fast ride that we don’t even remember getting on. One thing that can bring us comfort when we are feeling overwhelmed is that no matter what changes around us God will always be the same, and he is by our side through all of it.
Read Psalm 102.
“But you, LORD, are enthroned forever; your fame endures to all generations.”Psalm 102:12 CSB
David speaks in this psalm to the fact that nothing on this earth remains the same forever. The nations come and go, the grass withers away, and even his own people and life will one day be gone. But through all the change God remains the same, and he will always reign. One of the most amazing parts of this psalm is that David even had us in mind when he wrote this! In verse 18 he says, “This will be written for a later generation, and a people who have not yet been created will praise the LORD.”
God has seen so much change in the world. He has been there since the very beginning, and he will be there until the very end. As he is there with every turn and season of this earth, he is also the same God that is with you during this time of change.
3. Make God your best friend.
If you ask most recent college graduates what the hardest part of graduating is, odds are most of them are going to say it’s the newfound loneliness. Within weeks you go from being in the middle of living with hundreds of friends and colleagues to being spread out and in all different places and phases of life.
While this sounds pretty depressing, I have found that solitude has actually been one of the greatest blessings God could have given me. Frankly, when I was in college, I was occupied 24/7. If I wasn’t in classes or doing homework, I always had a friend nearby that I could hang out with. I spent so much of my time trying to be social and every second of my free time was spent with people. In the need I felt to occupy my time with tasks and relationships, I was putting God on the back burner. This year, in the times that I have felt lonely, I have taken that time and used it to really get to know God. I decided to spend time with him the way I would with my friends in college. Because of this, I have felt the presence of God in a way that I never have before.
Read Psalm 139.
We serve a God that knows us more than anyone possibly could. He has known you since before you were born. He is a God that created the universe, but he still cares to know you and be with you wherever you are. This psalm tells us that even to the ends of the earth he is there with us! That means we don’t have to go out of our way to be with him; he’s already there! One of the best things we can do for ourselves is spend more time getting to know him. The more I read his Word, the more I have come to be in awe of who he is and his wisdom. And the more I spend time alone talking to him and listening to his Spirit, the stronger I feel his presence.
So take advantage of the time you have as you’re starting out in this new chapter of life and be intentional about getting to know the God that knows and loves you more than you could possibly imagine.
4. Get excited for what God has in store for you.
Read Psalm 37.
While adulthood can be scary and overwhelming, it’s also the first step into a whole new world of possibilities! Consider the excitement when you look at a blank canvas. Although it is just a white canvas, there is such beauty in the fact that there are endless possibilities of what it could turn into.Your future has just become a blank canvas, and the Creator of the universe is the Painter.
My favorite verses in this psalm are verses 23 and 24:
“A person’s steps are established by the LORD, and he takes pleasure in his way. Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, because the LORD supports him with his hand.”Psalm 37:23-24 CSB
When we are pushed into a new and uncomfortable place in life, God often works through us in the most powerful ways. If you look through Scripture, everyone that God uses is pushed outside of their comfort zone. But it’s in those times that we are forced to rely on God rather than ourselves. In this time of the new and uncomfortable, invite God to come in and take control. As it says in verse 3, “Trust in the LORD and do what is good” (CSB), then get excited for the journey that he has in store for you.
Reflection and Application
- What part of graduating college has been a blessing in your life? What part has been a trial?
- How are you being intentional about keeping God in the center of your life amidst this change?
- Throughout the psalms, we see David expressing and processing his experiences and emotions. Take a moment each day this week to write out your experiences and how you are feeling during this time of transition.
Photo credit: Emilee Carpenter
Kristen is a recent college graduate who now works as a youth pastor in Chattanooga, TN. She is passionate about encouraging and teaching teens as well as young adults in their walk with Christ. She also enjoys writing and currently has an Instagram page called @l.e.t.s.b.e.r.e.a.l dedicated to sharing the things that God is teaching her in this new journey of faith in adulthood.