By Robin Gericke, Features Editor

Author Annie F. Downs knows what it’s like when the future is unknown. When she was younger, she thought she would be a teacher for the rest of her life. She did work as a teacher, but not for the 30 plus years she imagined. Instead, God called her to become an author, but between writing her first book, moving to Nashville and becoming a full time author, she had to work many jobs in between, from Craigslist jobs to working at The Local Taco. Even today, the end of the story is still unknown for Downs, just as it is for everyone, whether a successful author and speaker or a college student.

Downs offers practical advice to college students standing on the edge of the unknown, unsure how their story will end or even where to take the next step. “I think it is important to remember that you are not the only one there,” said Downs. “How you’re feeling is not unique to you alone. Invite other people into communication about it.”

Looking to the past can also be helpful as students trust in the Lord for their future. “Look back over the past four to five years to see where God worked in your life,” said Downs. “If you see where He has been faithful before you can trust He will be faithful again.” For Downs, she does this by reading through old journals, going through old Instagram posts, calling leaders of small groups she was involved with and simply looking back over “anything where I talked about God.”

For students preparing to choose a career, it’s important to remember that identities are found in Christ, not jobs. “You can have one calling with multiple expressions,” Downs said at the talk-back session on Wednesday. “The thesis statement for my life is that I can entertain people long enough that they learn something,” she said with a laugh. The different expressions of that one calling can be seen in Downs’ life through her previous job working as a teacher, serving as a small group leader and being an author and speaker. For students trying to discern what their calling is, Downs encourages them to reflect on what they liked and wanted to be when they were younger, before the world told them they couldn’t do that.

Everyone has fear about the future, but God can overcome it. “If we pretend we don’t have any fears, that’s not being honest,” said Downs. “Lean towards trust. Acknowledge what the fear is saying, but embrace the truth of what God says to replace fear.” Reading the Bible was forever changed for Downs when she realized that none of the people in the Bible besides Jesus knew the end of their story. With that new perspective, her favorite story is of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace. Because they didn’t know the end of their story, “they believed they were walking into their death,” said Downs. “They were so brave.”