Freshman Reflections #1

By Alicia Pautenius
 Alright, so, hello. My name is Alicia Pautienus, as you’ve hopefully read in the subtitle for the column. I’m a Freshman (naturally, considering this column is about self-growth and general thoughts relating to the enigma that is freshman year) in the Honors College, and an English Major with a Creative Writing minor; and no, I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with that yet, but it got me this gig so that’s cool at least. The only options that’ve been chopped are teaching in the American Education system and journalism, ‘nuff said. Note that the banging on journalism doesn’t translate into any grievance against column writing; I’m a book junkie and fanatic writer, and accordingly, the one thing that I do know that I want to do is craft stories.  

           Stories hold power. When Jesus taught, he did so in parables for a reason. John called Jesus the “Living Word” for a reason--- when God created Earth and Heaven, he did it with words, and when the Final Battle comes, He’ll win it with words, too. The Beginning and End, bookmarked with words--- the “Author of our Salvation” indeed. 

           This is the conviction that I tap into as a content creator, that writing, or more specifically story-telling, is a shadow of His Holiness. The ability to build something, out of nothing with mere words. 

Many authors call the creative process “playing God,” and they aren’t too far off the mark (aside from the fact that our worlds are completely fictitious and His isn’t. Also, He doesn’t blow things up when He’s bored like we do. We make for very cruel gods). When I write--- at least when I’m trying hard--- I make sure every setting, every character, and every conflict has a purpose. Some purposes are thematic, others are more plot-driven, the best are both, and all are essential cogs in the story machine. 

           God does the same with our lives, except, you know, on a much grander scale and better crafted all-around. In fact in the Bible, there’s this recurring theme called the “Book of Life” (whether it’s a symbol for God’s all-knowledge or a literal book is up to interpretation, not that it really matters). In it, each and everyone’s days are recorded before they even began. 

           To get to the point, God had me born in 2001, planning for me to graduate high school and enter college during a worldwide pandemic. I am who He made me to be, and He made me to exist in 2020. So yes, my freshman year has not been what I’d expected to be, and (other than I suppose all the other freshman this year) it isn’t anything like anyone else’s freshman years. But I, along with everyone else in my grade, was handcrafted with the unique difficulty of this transition period in mind. 

So to be honest? I’m thriving. I made friends, I got involved, I’ve had gospel conversations a handful of times (not enough, but a definite improvement from last year). Learning to let go of my plans and trust in God’s story-telling skills--- more commonly referred to as His plan, where all settings and plot points and characters connect to serve a purpose--- has helped me to fall back and seek the blessings during this period. I don’t pity myself for what I haven’t experienced because of the Rona, and I don’t want you to pity me, either.  

I, and quite frankly everyone else, was made “for such a time as this,” as Mordecai said to Esther all those years ago. So, let go and lean into the story God’s weaving with your life, conflict, characters, setting, and all. 


Paula Arrington - February 7th, 2021 at 3:53pm

Beautiful! I am so proud of you! ❤️

Mike Arrington - February 7th, 2021 at 4:11pm

Convicting and encouraging! Thank you Alicia, my precious granddaughter!

Jan Varley - February 7th, 2021 at 6:29pm

“Let go and lean into the story God’s weaving with your life...”

A beautiful image, and so wise!

Cari Gelderman - February 7th, 2021 at 7:34pm

Well said! Thank you for sharing your words

Carol Draehn - February 7th, 2021 at 8:00pm

Aly you are such a gifted writer. So happy to read more from you. I am looking forward to more of your creations. I love you, precious one.

Kristen Pautienus - February 7th, 2021 at 9:41pm

Awe...thank you for sharing your heart my sweet niece. Love you and I'm praying we are all ready for a time such as this.

Jamie Cobb - February 7th, 2021 at 10:26pm

Beautiful reminder... even for someone that was a freshman several years ago!