When I arrived at Goshen College, one of the things that I wanted to change was my understanding of spirituality. I wanted to grow in my love for the Word and I wanted to grow in the grace, mercy and blessings that I have received and that are rooted within the power of God. I had a plan to set aside at least 10-15 minutes daily to commit myself to God: to read the Bible or a devotional book, or just worship by myself.

As we all know, time can get the best of us and we become overwhelmed and get carried away by the worries of the world. It has been hasn’t been easy to maintain a full commitment to God and to my spirituality while also concentrating on my studies. I had no idea how hard it would be to keep a stable schedule and plan throughout the whole college experience. My choir rehearsals were getting more compromising, homework became harder, and socializing became more important than before.

I started to feel spiritually weak. Where was my strength?

This is my new reality: being away from home, from my church and friends, and being away from two loving grandmas that are always praying for me and available when I need counseling. Living at Goshen has made me remember my Sunday school teachers that taught me about God’s love and how amazing it is to know God well.

My grandmother Elizabeth was one of those teachers. She always began the morning Bible class by calling someone up to say a prayer with her. After that, she would lead us in singing hymns and learning verses from the Bible. Some of my favorite verses included Psalm 12 and Psalm 91. I was already immersed in the Gospel by growing up under my family’s influence.

Can I find strength in past memories? I miss the times I spent at summer camps while attending the Methodist Church. Many youth groups from different churches congregated together to know more about the Word of God in a fun and unforgettable way. The camp leaders planned many activities for the campers to get to know each other and grow spiritually. There was worship, preaching, and outdoor activities such as campfires. It was an amazing opportunity to share the love of God with new people from different parts of Puerto Rico.

I remember being a member of a kids ministry group that was involved in using song, dance and theatre to help spread God’s Word. The ‘mission’ was to learn dance steps, songs, scripts, and learn about different stories of the Bible by interpreting them in song. I learned discipline in every way. We performed in many shelters, outdoor events, hospitals, shopping malls, and more. We had the opportunity to reach many with the message of love through music and drama. I also loved serving as part of the children’s ministry in my church. I enjoyed leading worship and teaching in a small group. Also, I played and lead worship in our youth band.

Can I find strength by remembering good things I’ve done? I’ve realized none of this can substitute my quiet time with God. Ephesians 2:9 says “…not by works, so that no one can boast.” The source of my strength can’t be found in religious activities; it can’t be found in past memories. I need to remember that “the joy of the Lord is the strength of my life” (Nehemiah 8:10). I need to seek Him every day and redirect my thoughts to the things above.

I believe that God is my Savior and my strength, and I’m not afraid to say it out loud. This makes me feel relieved and safe every time. I have to look up and find strength above. Whenever I feel down, weary, lost, homesick or with no one to talk to, I look up to God and just talk like He was right there beside me.

In my weakness, He strengthens me. Keeping my eyes on Jesus is the challenge in this new role as a college student. There is no other place where I can find the strength needed, the good counsel, the unconditional love that only comes from the presence of God. Memories and past activities were part of my spiritual growth. But the strength needed to keep on studying, serving and loving comes from my Father above.