Our Stories: Emily Smith
Hallo! I’m Emily (the other one!).
I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home where I was taught about Jesus from a very young age. Although I gave my life to him when I was 7, I spent most of my teenage years being uncertain of my own salvation, and fought with a lot of insecurity around who I was and how people saw me. God, through His grace, reminded me that to have a relationship with him all I needed to do was surrender my heart and all the insecurities I had. This led me to getting baptised at the age of 18.
Coming to university, my faith relied on the support of others, and I quickly became aware of how little I fully relied on God to support me. First year quickly became a lonely time for me and I desperately sought the approval of others to make me feel secure and loved. My own strength quickly faded, and I frequently found myself feeling overwhelmed by new situations and struggles, and I couldn’t handle them alone. I ended up going along to the Christian Union at Kent a bit later than most people. I felt aware that I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t have any Christian friends to relate to in this weird and new situation. However, God was so faithful in teaching me to seek Him before seeking others and to lean on him in every challenge. He began to use the gigantic mirror university places you in front of, to gently teach me of my fragility, but more importantly, of the power that He has, and gives to us through His spirit.
One verse I’ve found myself drawn to over the last couple of years is 2 Corinthians 12:9:
‘“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’
Knowing that I don’t need to find strength in myself has, and continues to be, the reassurance that has kept me going since the wobbly start to university. Learning that God is Lord over not only my church life but also my grades, friendships and living situation, has given me so much peace in facing the curveballs life has thrown at me. More importantly, it has allowed me to praise God in every victory I’ve had here, large and small.
Saying all of this, I still often find myself freaking out in the midst of deadlines, difficult friendships or during times of feeling overwhelmed (just ask my housemates!). I have to constantly be pointed back towards Jesus, that’s what those Christian pals you have student lunches with are for! Regardless of my ability to stay calm in those situations, God is teaching me to press into Him before doing anything else.
Being in Canterbury and having a lot more time with my own thoughts (I have two little brothers at home- so this doesn’t happen often there!), has made me realise how committed God is to helping us grow and fall in love with Him and his ways. Something I once heard in a sermon that I’ve held onto is:
‘God sees us and loves as we are, but does not keep us as we are.’
Though our hearts waver in faith, strength and focus; He is patient. Through the inconsistencies of our lives, He loves us. Throughout constant change in university, He is committed to us. These have been some of the biggest things I’ve learnt while being at university, especially since joining City. This church is such a blessing to me and has quickly become my home away from home. It’s given me so much room to grow in my faith and explore the gifts God has given me. Even ones I didn’t know He’d blessed me with. God has taught me these things through some of the incredible men and women at City, and I’m so grateful to have settled into a church that loves and serves Him so well.
Anyways, I’ll end my spiel there. Praying for a year of blessings for all of you (or for the one person that actually reads till the end…hey Meg J)
See ya at the next student lunch! ;)
About the Author
Emily is currently in her third year at the University of Kent and is studying Psychology. She has been at The City Church for about 2 years now and has loved living in Canterbury whilst being at uni. She enjoys trying new food places and coffee shops with pals and quite frequently gets her food stolen by seagulls.