This article was originally written in August of 2015 for Project Inspired, a website that encourages Christian teenage girls all over the world. Thank you for reading!

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

Some of you reading this are in junior high or high school, while others are embarking on the journey of college. Whatever your situation may be, God is going to grow your faith and exceed your wildest dreams as you draw close to Him on and off campus. As you desire to be in His will, He is able to get closer to you and bless you while affecting those around you for the better because of your obedience.

There is a maturity that comes from time with God and from going through various life stages. Know that your level of faith does not compare to anyone else’s, because you are the only you there is, but it should be consistently evolving. I’ve felt the changes going from high school to college to moving out to being married to becoming a mother, etc. Believe me, it never stops, and that is one of the most exciting things about God’s work in you.

I want to share some of the differences between having faith in high school and faith in college, and hopefully it will encourage you where you are and give you something to look forward to.

What faith is like in high school

When I look back on the level of my faith when I was in high school, I’m reminded of how excited I was about every step closer I came to God’s plan for me. However, it was hard not to get sucked into what other people were doing, and even harder not to care that I didn’t always fit in because I was going against the grain. You are not alone, but sometimes it will feel like swimming upstream when your peers are looking down on you for doing what you do.

My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. (Proverbs 1:8)

The major thing I had going for me when I was younger was being raised in a Christian household. My parents were quick—very quick—to mention things or people they didn’t approve of. There was almost a comfort in saying, “Oh, I can’t go there or do this because my mom says I can’t,” even if it was really me who didn’t want to go to that party or hang out with those other students because I knew it wasn’t an activity or group I wanted to be a part of.

You may still be trying to figure out your Christian walk, and perhaps you don’t have Christian parents or a spiritual mentor who can guide you. I promise you, though, if you ask God, He is sure to provide that for you. At this point, you are still learning by example, and working through your achievements and setbacks. The blessing of doing this while you’re younger is that you still have a chance to learn and glean from others around you that you admire without dealing with the pressures of life that come with becoming an adult.

What faith is like in college

I remember enrolling in college like it was yesterday. It was the weirdest feeling understanding that I could literally have any schedule I wanted and whatever classes I desired. Going from having my classes and schedule picked out for me to being handed a clean slate was overwhelming, to say the least. Being thrown into a situation like that made me grateful that I stayed close to home because I could ask my mom to come with me to school. She obliged, but by the end of the first day, my stress turned into excitement and the clean slate was now an opportunity to shape my world however I wanted.

You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. (1 Corinthians 10:23)

Being an adult doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want. It means we are now solely responsible for how we interact with God and the world. Becoming an adult meant that I was accountable to God to keep my walk strong, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I could pick my own church, choose friends who had similar interests to mine, pray and study the Word when and how it worked best for my life, and begin to understand that whatever I chose to do affected my future for good or for bad.

In college you have no lunch period, no defined start or end time for every day of the week, and there is no longer assigned seating. It was similar to my faith at the time. I was used to having a plan made for me at school and at home, so staying within the guidelines gave me sort of a safety net. However, being without a safety net means you can use this as an opportunity to grow in Christ and rely on Him like never before. You never know—your future lifelong ministry might be birthed from a Bible study you start on campus or a conversation you have with your roommate about Jesus.

We’d love to hear about the experiences you’re having in high school or college. What does your faith look like now, and how would you like to see it grow?

In Love,

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Kytia L’amour is a writer, performer, and photographer spreading God’s love in all art forms. Reaching out to young women and sharing her story is what keeps her heart beating for Christ.

Kytia lives in sunny Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

Visit her website and social media on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube!