Hey friends! Say hi to Olivia, our latest GMM!
Olivia is a sophomore Biology Major at Freed-Hardeman University. She plans to pursue a career in Physical Therapy. I see Olivia as someone with a genuine and straight-up honest spirit about God and about her relationship with Him. She is real about her struggles but passionate about her pursuit of an increasingly greater connection with Jesus.
Here’s what she has to share with you today:
Her faith story: “My relationship with God has definitely been a journey. I was blessed to be raised in the church with a faithful family. I went to all the Bible Bowls, Area Wide Youth Devos, and church camps. Some of my favorite memories and dearest friends were made at church camp, and I am so thankful for the people and experiences that God blessed me with, but my faith was child-like because I was a child. Being a Christian was something I was supposed to do, but as I matured, I understood that it so so much more. I feel like God reveals himself to us in many different ways. In our hardest struggles, in our greatest triumphs, and everything in between. My first semester at Freed-Hardeman qualifies as all of the above. It’s pretty standard to feel that trademark “I’m on my own now. I have to make grown-up decisions. I need to make friends. What’s a social club? How does an ATM work? Someone send help pls” feelings that are all part of moving away from home, but this is more than a test of patience. It is a builder of faith. For the first time, I was in a new environment, surrounded by new people, new churches, new classes, new responsibilities, new stresses, and new freedoms. I was drowning in the unknown. It’s funny that so many of us feel the loneliest when surrounded by a sea people. I isolated myself because I didn’t know how to handle so many new things, and in my isolation, God was waiting for me to cast my anxieties on him. My faith has grown tremendously in my three semesters at Freed-Hardeman, but I am still growing, and I have a long way to go. I see Jesus all around me every single day in the faces of the new people that, at one time, scared me to death. I see Him in the upperclassmen as they lead and exhort the younger students to keep going, promising it will get better, and it does. This past semester was arguably the hardest few months of my life. I was more stressed about my classes than ever before. I was doubting the plan that I had for my future. I felt like I was falling short in every aspect of my life, and in my short-comings, God was waiting for me to rely on Him. I am still a work in progress, but I know that God can do more through us than we can imagine, so I have faith that He is just getting started with me.”
Her favorite passage of scripture: “My favorite verses are II Corinthians 12:9-10, ‘And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.'” These verses are a constant reminder to me that even though I am flawed, weak, and so imperfectly human, that God’s glory can be magnified through my weakness. It is a reminder that I am not called to rely on my own strength and ability but to reflect the light of Jesus.
“I Peter is definitely my favorite book because I feel like it is such an amazing exhortation to those Christians who might not understand the depth of what they are now a part of. He explains how the devil seeking to pull them away from their faith, but then he encourages them in reminding them how powerful God truly is. He tells them how much they mean to God, and how that should motivate them to live for Him. I Peter is a great book to read, in my opinion, when life is really hitting hard. When we need a reminder of how powerful God is and how much he cares for, as well as reliance on God to guide us through this life. ”
Her practical suggestions for Bible study: “One of the biggest blessings in my time at Freed has been the Spiritual Disciplines class that I took with Matt Cook. The focus of the course was to build habits and learn methods that improved the quality, knowledge, and consistency of our relationship with God. I learned that the most important thing about studying God’s Word is to study God’s Word. It is intentionally setting apart time to dig into the Scripture to see what God is telling us. It is reading scriptures that are relevant to you and drawing applications from every passage. It is not beating yourself up for missing a day, but choosing to pick up right where you left off the next time. God tells us how to make it through this life, we just have to open His Word and listen.”
Her prayer relationship with God (this is good!!): “Prayer is hard; let’s be real. Sometimes, we just say the same old things about the same old things, and when we do that, it gets boring. When it gets boring, we stop praying because we think that God gets tired about hearing about the same things over and over when that could not be further from the truth. The biggest game-changer for my prayer life has been a method called Praying the Bible. It is when you take a scripture, usually a psalm, and you read it and use it to inspire thoughts for your prayers. For example, Psalm 23 verse 1 “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” you might pray, “Father, thank you for being my Shepherd. Thank you for guiding me and providing me with everything that I need.” When you finish with one line, you just move onto the next one. You will quickly find yourself praying about things that you have never thought to pray about before, and I found my prayers to be a lot more sincere. It is the closest that we can get to a real conversation with God because we are talking to Him, and the we are immediately back in His Word hearing from Him.”
How she defines “delighting in the Lord”: “I would define “delighting in the Lord” as always finding our contentment in Him which is difficult, in my opinion, because God isn’t instant or physical. Most of our worldly delights are, in some regard, forms of instant gratification. Delighting in God often means waiting for Him and trusting Him which is difficult because we are very physical creatures living in a very physical world, so to take our trust away from our abilities and the things of this life, and put our trust in God, it takes so much faith.”
On the “desires of her heart”: “My biggest hope is to grow in wisdom and work on being a ‘gentle, quiet spirit.’ I have a tendency to be very goal-oriented, which can be good, but it also means that I easily get distracted from the realness of eternity to focus on the realness of this world. So, instead of stressing and overly seeking more worldly knowledge, I want to relax and have faith that God will grant me wisdom when I ask for it and through that wisdom, a peace that passes understanding.”
Her message to other girls seeking to grow in faith: “Furthering your relationship with God will push you in ways that you didn’t know existed. This life will take you on a ride of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but God is always in front of us clearing the way, behind us, supporting us and watching our backs, and beside us, holding our hand as He guides us. Put your faith in God, and you will never ever be disappointed. He has given us everything, so give Him your everything.”
I hope these good words from Olivia brighten up your Tuesday!!