Summer and Christmas breaks are often seasons when college students have lots of free time. After a busy semester or school year, it can be full of sleep, friends, family, Netflix and home-cooked meals. True rest, reflection and growth can also be a part of the break.
We asked a few faculty and staff members to share ideas about how students can use their time over the break to grow.
Rebecca Jones, Communications:
Many of us will spend time over the next few weeks preparing. … Some of these preparations can come to feel like burdens – as if there is too much to do and not enough time. Reflecting on ways these activities, responsibilities and even chores reflect God’s provision can enable us to see His goodness and to offer gratitude and worship to the One who is the giver of every good and perfect gift. For example, helping to prepare a meal for family or friends reflects the blessing of having those relationships as well as the resources to share with loved ones.
Judy Duvall, Elrod Center for Family & Community:
One of the best things for my soul, especially after a busy and trying season, is to experience solitude and silence with God without any agenda or distraction. This is not easy as I want to talk and plan and direct my life and the lives of others. But in stillness before God for an extended time, I have the opportunity to experience God’s great love for me and His direction for my life. A couple books I would recommend are Solitude and Silence and Invitation to Retreat by Ruth Haley Barton.
Ray Franklin, Christian Studies:
Take a half-day of prayer. Spend four hours alone with just you and Jesus. This can be totally by yourself – like by a lake, in the woods, near a field or on a mountain. Or you can do the “alone-in-a-crowd” thing – like in a park, a shopping mall or a library. Take your Bible (a real, paper and ink one). Turn off your phone. And be still before the Lord until He comes to you. The rest is up to you and the prompting of the Spirit. Read, pray, praise, cry, cry out – whatever the Lord puts in your heart to do. You will be glad you did.
Sue Poole, Counseling Services:
I recommend The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery by David G. Benner. It’s short (about 100 pages) with chapter-by-chapter study guide in the back for reflection. Benner quotes Thomas Merton in the opening cover page of his book, “There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him I will find myself, and if I find my true self I will find Him.”
Shane Seaton, Recreational Life
I would encourage students to take a break from technology for an extended period of time, whether for a day or several days. I regularly practice this as part of my Sabbath each week. I usually do something as simple as not getting on social media or mindlessly browsing the internet. However, for an even better experience I would recommend a complete fast from technological entertainment. Read a book instead of your Twitter feed. Take a walk without posting anything to Instagram. Watch squirrels play instead of a movie. It doesn’t matter what you do. The most important part is being intentional with how you fill your time.
Anna Rosenthal, Campus Ministries
Take advantage of both the busy times and the times that you have nothing to do. When you are with people, try to be engaged in conversation: ask good questions, be interested in their lives, enjoy “normal” time just hanging out. The flip side is the quieter moments with nothing to do. See these moments as gifts from God and do something you enjoy: baking, journaling, reading, biking, listening to music. What helps refresh you personally? Rest doesn’t have to be boring! Also, I recommend this blog post by Sandra Glahn. It has re-framed the way that I view breaks.
“Resting Well” is adapted from a 2018 blog series originally posted by Campus Ministries.
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