Each year we host a special chapel at the end of the spring semester during which graduating seniors share their testimonies.
This year we heard from Anna Floyd (Secondary Education and Worship Arts), Selena Perez (Elementary Education) and Isaac Lawrence (Worship Arts). As three of the newest members of the TBC alumni family, we are sharing their personal testimonies with you!
Each of the three graduating seniors shared their own personal stories but each touched on a common theme: their experience of moving to a place of spiritual and mental health, and how that journey has shaped and prepared them for the future.
The commonality in their stories is remarkable as the seniors are not asked to speak on a specific topic. In the past two years spiritual and mental health have come into focus as the groundwork for an overall healthy life, and therefore require prioritization. We find it very fitting that our graduating seniors have voiced how their own journeys in these areas have been key to their success.
Selena Perez shared how a traumatic life experience toward the end of her junior year took a toll on how she viewed herself and how she viewed her own future.
For nearly two years after that event, she felt like she was living a storm that would not end.
“I felt like there was just this domino effect of bad things happening and I just couldn’t understand why. We had a death in the family. During my teaching internship my parents and I tested positive for COVID-19 and I almost lost my mother. My relationship at the time was becoming unhealthy, and my relationships with certain family members became toxic and I just felt like I could not catch a break. I started to become very anxious, depressed, and overwhelmed with all that was going on and I held onto that for a really long time.”
However, she says that there was a turning point when she decided to let God have an active role in her life and to live for Him.
“I started to serve and become more involved in my church again. I received clarity on things that I had prayed for and I let go of relationships that were holding me back from my true purpose.”
For Selena, this was part of a process that eventually changed her life.
“I can honestly say that I am not the same woman I was two years ago, and I have to praise God for every bit of that.”
Selena is now teaching third grade in her hometown (yes, she was hired before graduating!) and excited about the future.
As she closed her testimony, she encouraged students to keep their focus on the right things:
“Keep your heart on Jesus… I know it is hard and life is real, but even when bad things happen, don’t let it imprison your life, don’t let it define your whole life. Turn the page and keep writing the book of your story.”
Anna Floyd emphasized how having the right priorities are essential because your priorities will determine how you run your own life.
Admittedly, academics are a priority during college, however when academics are given priority above all else, there can be negative unintentional consequences. Anna related her own experience with this scenario saying,
“… school should not be your only priority. Your spiritual health will determine your overall well-being in the present and the future. Your mental and physical health should also be at the top of your list of priorities. A few years ago, I prioritized school over everything else to the point of having poor spiritual and mental health. As a result of that, everything else in my life suffered so I needed to re-prioritize in order to allow all the areas of my life to grow. School is at the top of my list, but above that is my relationship with the Lord, my relationship with others, and my overall health.”
Anna also pointed out the importance of interacting in a like-minded community, sharing how it was instrumental in overcoming some of her challenges.
“…I struggle with anxiety. I did not see any improvement until I asked for help from not only the Lord, but from my community. So, walk with others in your struggles and trust that the Lord will provide people to help you.”
She closed with encouragement to seek God first no matter the circumstance because He is the only constant.
Everything in life will change: people, jobs, and even majors, but God does not change.
“He was faithful to us in the past and remains faithful. I find comfort in this and I hope you will as well.”
Issac Lawrence challenged students to keep their priorities in order by seeking to fulfill their current purpose.
“[do not] be so focused on your future purpose that you miss fulfilling your present purpose.”
He went on to explain how the decision to fulfill his present purpose as a student helped him conquer the anxiety he felt over the future.
“There were times during my journey where I would experience anxiety resulting from focusing too much on my future after college.
…I committed myself to being a good leader in chapel band, I became a Chapel group leader, I strived to be a good classmate and offer advice when given opportunities to speak in someone’s life. When I began focusing more on these things, that anxiety disappeared.
I challenge you to focus on what God wants from you in your present situation as a student. Maybe it is to become a student mentor, Chapel group leader, Coach assistant, sports team leader, student aid for a professor. Maybe it is simply to be a better student. Whatever it is, I challenge you to focus more on your present purpose than your future purpose.”
Issac highlighted how the aspect of community or teamwork can make a huge difference in our life experience, challenging students to,
“… think less ‘I’ and more ‘US’. We are in this journey together and the journey is easier when we work together to get to our destination.”
Referencing one of his favorite passages of Scripture (Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since WE are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let US also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let US run with endurance the race that is set before US, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of OUR faith…) he said,
“I find it interesting that this passage uses words like WE, US, OUR, in referencing the journey of our Faith. We should not be running individual races, but we should be running as a team.
Be intentional about being part of the team. Pray for those around you, pray with those around you, study together, help each other, remember the goal is for all of us to make it across the finish line.”
Anna, Selena, and Issac represent an entire graduating class that has overcome obstacles and challenges in their college career.
They have learned academics and practical application, but have also absorbed wisdom from their mentors, friends, and professors. Likewise, we have learned from them! Their tenacity and dedication to finish what they started will always be inspiring. We have been privileged to witness their growth first-hand and are confident that God can use each of them to impact the world around them for the better.