Dig your wells deep

Last week I had the privilege of hanging out with some college freshman at California Baptist University (CBU). Here’s some of what I’ve been thinking since.

College roommates in December 2006
I laugh like I’m screaming. It’s ridiculous. 🙂

Any time I’m around college students I remember:

A more normal pic of the three of us.
Amy, Caila, and Krista.

  • Late nights in the kitchen wearing pajamas and eating peanut butter with a spoon
  • Watching reruns of Friends after classes got out at 5:00p
  • Writing for the school newspaper
  • Impromptu dance parties in the living room
  • So much enthusiasm
  • Study rooms in the campus library
  • Coffee shops with friends
  • Never enough sleep
  • Silly crushes
  • Bible study–hundreds of students gathered
  • Walking through piles of leaves (I went to college at Oregon State University)
  • Wondering about the future
  • Hope and fear, all twisted up
  • Laughter, always lots of laughter
And last week all of these things came back to me when I joined a panel discussion at CBU on Healthy Living. I felt right at home when I realized most of them were wearing some form of either pajamas or exercise clothes. Now, that’s something I remember from college! 🙂

Our panel discussion covered three areas of health: physical, emotional/mental, and spiritual, and I was there to discuss spiritual health.

Being silly with House of Charis girls at the beach in 2005

It’s been a long time since I’ve talked to college students about spiritual things, but it is something I love to do. It must be the raw potential they represent or something. College women–freshman especially–just seem to be so many things rolled into one: intelligence, enthusiasm, innocence, independence, fear, hope.  They make me remember what it felt like to be at the beginning of things.

Anyway, today I’m posting my notes from the panel discussion just in case anyone out there is interested in reading them. 🙂 They are a mish-mash of the things I learned about life in college and am still learning now. My friend Janelle, who asked me to participate in the panel, provided me with the questions ahead of time. These are the notes I typed up ahead of time–not necessarily what I actually said.

Hope you find something useful in these! If you choose not to read the whole thing (it’s long) I won’t be offended! Take note, I didn’t edit these, just wrote them down in a hurry a few hours before the event. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

Caila’s Notes on Spiritual Health for Panel Discussion at CBU

A little bit about me:
Hello there! My name is Caila Murphy and I’m married to a really handsome man named Brian. We have three children under the age of five. Hudson is four, Abby is two next month and Stryder is three months old.
Before Brian and I were married I worked in full time college women’s ministry for three years and ran an all-women’s Christian sorority house called the House of Charis. As the house manager I was in charge of our leadership team of 10 women, and discipleship in the house. I also helped plan retreats for our campus women’s ministry and taught bible studies. It was a really powerful time in my life.
Hmm, what else should you know? I just turned 30 in June, my husband just finished a two-year Nursing program and starts as a Registered Nurse in an Intensive Care Unit on Monday. We’ve been married for 5 ½ years and I go to church with Janelle at Orangecrest Community Church.
QUESTIONS:
How should I maintain a relationship with God?
I’ve found that the most important key to maintaining and growing a relationship with God is TIME. Who are your best friends? I’m sure you spent a lot of time with them. Any time you don’t give time to a relationship it suffers. The best way to spend time with God is to get alone for times of prayer, quiet your heart and listen. Spend time reading the bible every single day, whatever time of day, and set your heart to receive what it has to say. Ask God to teach you how to maintain a relationship with him. Jesus said that whoever seeks shall find and whoever knocks, the door will be opened to him or her. So set your heart and your will to seek him.  You’ll find him.
I know it may not seem like it, but in college you have a lot of time to spend seeking him. When I was in college I made it my goal to read and study the bible every day. I plugged into a college ministry, I made friends with others who had a good relationship with Christ.
I’ll tell you now what someone once told me: dig your wells deep now, because you’ll be drawing on those wells in the years to come. College is a time of making choices and setting patterns. What you decide to make important now will always be important later. You have no idea how hard it is for people to change in their 30s and 40s. Don’t bank on taking the time to know God later in life. Make the choice and the investment now. It will pay off.

One of many late nights of music at the House of Charis.
Caila, Erika Joy and Erica Rabe

What does it mean to be spiritually healthy?
I think we are physically healthy when our habits are in balance with our physical needs. When we give our bodies what they need, we perform well. The same is true of spiritual health. You cannot carry on living a godly life if you never feed your soul. This also means you need a well-rounded spiritual life. You need to be reading your bible, you need to be in prayer (alone AND with others) and you need to be close with other believers. There’s a verse in Ephesians that says, “encourage one another daily while it is called today, lest any of you is hardened by the deceptiveness of sin.” 
Believe me, life can be hard and sin is deceitful. If you think you’re just alive to get what you want all the time, you become hard and jaded fast in the world outside of school. But if you understand the real purpose of life, to know and follow God, and seek that purpose you will always come back to reading the bible, prayer, and fellowship with other believers. 
I wish someone had told me how hard life can be. Or maybe they did tell me and I didn’t listen. The truth is, life requires hard work. That’s why the Proverbs are so hard on lazy people. You cannot be lazy in the kingdom of God. Life is hard work, but there are wonderful rewards.
What are the benefits of fighting sin and how do you do that?
Oh gosh, the benefits of fighting sin are so many, it’s hard to know where to begin. There are reasons God provides us with boundaries—he is keeping us from harm! Breaking outside of those boundaries can lead to a slew of horrible consequences.
The benefit of fighting sin is freedom from those terrible weights. You will never be bowed down by the horror of them. You relationship with God and the ones you love will flourish. You will find joy; you will enjoy your life. You will sleep well and night and learn to trust God. You’ll keep your head up high, have less stress, and look more beautiful. And ultimately, you’ll be able to leave this life knowing you did the best with what you have. With no regrets.
And those are only some of the benefits.
I don’t care if you’re at a Christian college, you’ll face temptation here just like I did at a secular state school. Where there are people, there’s sin. What you’ve got to do is set your mind to say no. You remember the anti-drug slogan “Just say no.” Just say no to sin! Walk away, RUN if you have to. Just get away from it. There was a time in college when I allowed myself a little “fun” in the party scene. It had all the promise of a really fun time, but when it came down to it, let me tell you, it was miserable. Absolutely miserable. And when I repented and felt the weight of my sin, I did everything I could to distance me from that lifestyle. Sometimes you have to take drastic steps, but it’s worth it.
Does stress affect your spiritual life? And if so, how can I overcome it?
Yes, stress certainly affects your spiritual life and there are two ways you can confront it.
One, you can let it pull your focus away from the Lord. 
Two, you can let it draw you closer to the Lord.
My senior year of college I realized I could finish on-time if I took 21 credits each term. I don’t know how your semesters work here, but 12 to 18 credits was full time. Fifteen was the recommended number. I took 21 credits all three terms that year and let me tell you, it just about did me in. I was very commited to my grades that year and so much school work meant less time with friends, less time to refresh, less time for bible study groups and less time spent alone with the Lord in bible study or prayer. That was the driest year I’ve ever had spiritually. I was stressed out beyond belief. But it was also very good for me. I learned to work hard even when I didn’t feel like it. And even though it was a spiritually dry time, it was good for me to learn that God wasn’t at my beck and call. I needed to spend more time with him, even when that time was in short supply, and trust him to meet my needs at the right time. He got me through that year, and he’s got me through a lot off tough time’s since. 
Stress can be a killer, but it doesn’t have to be. Overcome it by setting your eyes on Jesus and never taking them off. Trust him. He will take you through it; he will provide for your needs. Perseverance produces character, which produces hope.  (Romans 5:3-4)
Do we need to be apart of a home church our freshman year, to be connected or is it okay to take a year to search?
You might spend some of your freshman year searching for a church home, and that’s okay. But I think it’s certainly important to find a church home as soon as you can and get connected. Find a place where you feel God’s word is being taught, where you feel comfortable and believe you will find stablility. 
It’s important for you to find a church home so that you’re connected with the mission of God during school, not just the mission of the school. A church home will provide you with accountability, growth, and friendship. It’s essential.
Friends at our goodbye party when we left Oregon in 2007
My first year in college it was hard to find a church home because I didn’t have a car. I had to find rides and at a secular college, those weren’t always easy to come by. That was also the year I struggled the most. By my sophomore year I lived with girls who attended the church I was most interested in. I rode with them every Sunday that year and by my junior year I had my own car. I attended that church for 7 years and it’s where Brian and I were married. Those people are family.
What is the importance of a home church in college?
I think I pretty much covered that in the last question, but I’d like to add one more thing. It’s important for you to be around more than just college students at this period of your life. You need to rub up against people in all stages of life. Get some diversity into your experience. Get to know the young family with three kids (that’s me, haha). Talk to the older lady at church; find out about her life. Invest in the younger kids. Let those who are older teach you; listen to their advice. It can really help give you perspective during these college years. 
I was so blessed to have one family in particular pour into me in college. The husband and wife were in there 30s with two small children and they really invested in us college students. They walked me through the beginning of my relationship with Brian, and the husband actually ended up officiating the ceremony at our wedding! I’m so thankful that they let us in to their lives. I got to see what real life was really about. 
Is it important to spend time with God every day?
Yes! But I can’t say it will always be easy. I’m still working on this! One thing I’ve noticed is that with every significant change in life it’s hard to stick with a quiet time routine. When you graduate, you may notice this. When you get married you’ll notice this. And certainly, when you have a baby or a full time job you will notice how difficult it can be to spend time with God every day. Allow yourself some grace as you adjust to a new life schedule, but remember to come back to God in your thoughts at all times. Find accountability and do whatever is necessary to build that time back in to your life. Remember that all of life is a sacrifice to God. So even though you’re not singing worship songs at church, your job is still a sacrifice of praise. God wants the mundane and the sacred; there is no difference between the two in his eyes.
What is the importance of discipleship as a freshman? Is there a certain time that I need to find some one to disciple me?
I think it’s vital to seek this out as soon as possible. The sooner, the better! 

And that was all I had time for before the event! Thanks, Janelle for inviting me to participate! It’s was wonderful and I really enjoyed the girls. 🙂

Comments

  1. Janelle says

    I just saw this! Must have missed it back when you first posted it. Thanks so much Caila. My girls still mention things you said, and I still mull over them frequently. Thank you for sharing your journey and your heart.