I was unfortunately terrified – UNTIL I heard a message from the Lord that not only prepared my soul in that pivotal moment but went on to sustain me through college. These words continue to live on in my heart as I pour into the next generation as a coach and counselor.
"I felt as though college would be where I would walk in a fire. Then God told me He would walk through fire to save His people.
As a high school student I was worried to transition to college because I felt like I was about to walk through fire. College is a time when people are able to self-define who they want to be. There are no adults setting limits or guiding decisions, and I was scared of who I would become without my roots to guide me.
During my last summer as a high schooler, I attended CIY MOVE for the first time with my youth group. We spent the week discussing the book of Daniel, and it perfectly fit my anxieties. I believe God used that week to speak the most important message I’ve ever heard: “God will walk through fire to save His people.”
I felt as though college would be where I would walk in a fire. Then God told me He would walk through fire to save His people. I was comforted by that truth and it gave me an inexplicable hope for all the fires I would face in the future.
After that experience, the reason behind every kind act and feeling of empathy I had changed. I wanted to embody Christ, and that included the way I played volleyball in high school and college. I showed Christ through the way I treated my teammates, coaches and officials. Encouraging teammates, accepting the coaches’ decisions, and showing grace to the officials were particular actions I focused on while being a player.
Today as a coach, I continue to show grace to officials and encourage my athletes, but I put a major emphasis on teamwork. Working hard for your teammates is so much more rewarding than working for your own personal gain – just as showing the image of Christ to spread the Gospel is more rewarding and authentic than doing so for personal gain.
Christ is also my stronghold in my counseling career. Anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses are becoming more common and being showcased in much younger children than in previous decades. Counselors are on the forefront of the defense of this rise in mental illness and able to equip young people with coping mechanisms.
I hope to provide kids what my church and CIY provided me as a student and continue to share the life-changing message that God will walk through fires for them.
Melissa Swartz is from Lexington, Illinois and obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Lincoln Christian University in December 2018. She is currently earning a master’s in school counseling from Capella University.