Finding Joy in the Journey

by Clara Gebert '10, as told to Sharyn Kopf

I started thinking about college in the 10th grade. I suppose that’s part of being super-organized: I wanted to give myself time to make the right decision. Still, I ended up only applying to Cedarville. Three of my four sisters had already graduated from the University, and I had no doubt God wanted me here.

Being so motivated, I came to campus with a lot of college credits but still unsure of what I should major in. With broad interests in politics, history, culture, communication, and international affairs, I didn’t know how all of that would play out. Eventually I settled on international studies with a social science concentration — and I knew I’d found what I wanted to do. I also came to see how God had brought people into my life I wouldn’t have met if I’d chosen my major right away. That’s when I realized God is often more concerned with the journey than with the destination.

Ready to Go

Once I chose my major, I began exploring other opportunities. During my sophomore year, I decided to look for an on-campus job. I was particularly interested in being a tutor at The Cove, Cedarville’s academic enrichment center. To my surprise, they offered me the position of office assistant instead. It was definitely a God thing, and I still work there. The staff members have become like family to me.

About the same time, I was asked to consider interviewing to be the committee chair for the Junior/Senior Banquet. I agreed to the interview, though doubtful about whether I should pursue the opportunity. But that’s what I do sometimes: ask God to bless me, then freak out when He starts to do just that! After spending time in prayer, I decided to turn the position down, but still became a member of the committee.

Another opportunity that interested me was Delta Alpha Epsilon (DAE). Members of this alumni relations student organization work directly with alumni and represent the student body to them. I couldn’t resist such a great experience! I applied for the position and was accepted.

Then Dr. Frank Jenista ’68, professor of international studies and my academic advisor, asked me to consider being a part of the Model United Nations team. This was a surprise and a great honor, but once again I was terrified! So much was happening that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I joined the team, and God used the experience to confirm my choice of major.

Just One More Thing

So, if you’re keeping track, I headed into my junior year as a member of the banquet committee and DAE, as well as co-captain of the Model U.N. team. All that on top of being a full-time student, pursuing a major and three minors, and holding a part-time job. Then, two weeks before school started, the banquet chair announced she wasn’t returning to Cedarville. The class officers and advisors asked me to consider taking the position. After praying about it, I felt God saying He wanted me to do this. Yes, I was scared, again, but believed God knew what He was doing.

In October, Peter Brandt ’10, junior class president, asked if I would run as his vice presidential candidate for the Student Government Association (SGA). I was speechless for about three minutes. Although flattered, I was uncertain whether this was something God wanted me to do. I asked Peter for a week to think and pray about this huge decision.

Running for SGA would be a lot of work with no guarantee we’d win, and I already had so many responsibilities. But as I reflected on my college journey, I heard God saying this was something He’d been preparing me for. I had a choice between believing my fears of inadequacy or trusting this was an opportunity to learn about God and myself. Again, He reminded me it’s about the journey, not the destination. By the end of the week, I had accepted Peter’s offer. 

A Balancing Act

Going into the spring semester of my junior year, everything seemed to hit at once. In January, we started preparing for the SGA election and began campaigning a month later. Primaries were February 13, followed by the general election. The Junior/Senior Banquet was just around the corner, and Model U.N. regionals were in February, with nationals in April. Not to mention DAE, classes, my job, and, yes, friends. What I didn’t have time for was sleep.

On February 20, Peter and I won the election. I was already sleep-deprived at this point, and spring break came just in time. I headed home to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and that first night I slept 17 hours straight.

When my mom finally woke me up, we had a long talk. I had reached a breaking point. I was finding my worth in what I could accomplish, rather than having faith that God could do it all without me. God put me in those positions to make me more like Himself and use me to reflect Him to others — but I was not irreplaceable. My parents reminded me I needed to find a middle ground and remember that while God was choosing to use me, He didn’t need me.

When I was back at school, I returned to my room every night and prayed for endurance to finish strong. In completing that semester, God taught me what it looked like to let go of busyness. He wanted me to surrender the results and trust that I’d done what He’d asked of me. I’ve learned that blessings can sometimes bring challenges and it really is all about the journey. I’m still pretty busy, but I’m finding that balance. And I’m even getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night!