The first time I saw a Mississippi College shirt, I was at summer camp. I glanced at a camp counselor as he walked by with an MC shirt on and I scoffed at him. As a snobby 10th grader from the Alabama Gulf Coast, I immediately made a smart remark about how the school must be in a corn field (obviously I was very wrong and very prejudice).
A year later, when I decided to start looking at colleges, I remembered that shirt. No longer against the idea of Mississippi becoming my new home, I looked at MC's website and I fell in love. Honestly, I decided on MC before I had even visited campus.
I've lived in Orange Beach, AL since I breathed my first breath. The room I sleep in at my house now is the same room I've slept in when I was a baby. Moving to MC was a stretch for me. MC is five hours and 256 miles away from my house and away from everything comfortable I'd ever know. I didn't know how the distance would affect me, but I didn't care because I was so certain that MC is where I was meant to be.
When I started thinking about where I wanted to go to school, I didn’t look at any schools less than three hours away from Orange Beach. I was ready for change and I knew that by going to a school far away, I would get that. The first time I visited MC as a junior in high school, I already felt like a part of the MC family. The distance felt small and the environment was welcoming and when I left campus that day, I knew that I would spend the next four years of my life at MC.
I have never regretted the decision to attend school five hours away from my hometown. I enjoy the drives between here and there and it makes every visit to my dad special. When I was a freshman and life was hard and I wanted to escape, being far from Orange Beach challenged me to seek my Heavenly Father rather than running to my earthly dad. Those days were hard, but I trusted that the One who called me to MC would help me when being there was hard.
In making a college decision, it's so easy to get overwhelmed with the logistics of distance and comfort and everything else that matters. We put so much pressure on ourselves to make the perfect decision when the truth is that God has us covered. He knows what is best for us. He is our Dad after all.
Friends, Jesus knows you. Next time you feel the pressure of decisions on your shoulders, hand it over. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6 not to be anxious about anything but to go to God in prayer with our requests. If I can give you any advice in making a college decision, it's that. Don't stress, just pray. Go to God with every part of the process because He is in every bit and involving Him makes it more exciting.
I'm going home this weekend just because I can. Attending school in a city so different from my hometown has fostered an attitude of thanksgiving for Orange Beach. My life at MC is a gift and I'm so thankful that Jesus changed my heart and lead me to MC.
Trust know that Jesus knows exactly where you'll go to school and that He'll show you in His time. Whether you end up at the community college in your hometown or a school on the other side of the country, it will be good because the One who carries you there is good.
And trust me, you're being prayed for.
Stay classy, friends.
Ashton "I actually don't like the beach" Ray