At about this same time every year, my friends briefly fade out of my life and my Facebook feed goes from looking like a highlight reel to more of a post-disaster cry for help. Essay due dates appear from seemingly nowhere and everyone panics. Practice exam scores are handed back and everyone panics. The gloom and doom of impending failure settles and everyone panics. Finals week has arrived, and for many of us, it seems like the beginning of the end.
Having buried myself in the basement of my college library more times than I can count, I know that feeling. College is hard and life is hard, and sometimes, it seems like you can’t succeed at one without failing at the other. Finals come in a hurry, and in order to guarantee the most success, you start doing things differently — hibernating in the library, locking yourself in your bedroom, and taking uncharacteristic amounts of notes outside of class, for example. Soon, you start using the process of elimination to strike out study distractions. That movie you were going to go see with your friends? Out. Swing dancing night? Out. A relaxing Saturday at the park? Out.
The Lord? For a lot of us, sadly, out.
I don’t mean to say that the Lord Himself is a distraction to us, or that we eliminate Him from our lives entirely when they get crazy, but the truth is, we often allow the Lord to become less important and less involved. Finals week comes, and suddenly, our schooling and ourselves become priority number one, not Him. We take Him out of it.
We forget about the Lord because all we can think about is that essay we’ve been struggling with. We stop going to our Institute classes, we miss home evenings, and we raincheck our Sabbath worship because we’ve “really got to study for a test.” We momentarily set the gospel, our ward activity, and, in extension, our Heavenly Father on a backburner, because we think that we are better off without those things getting in the way. The truth is that they are the only way.
No grade is more important than the Lord and His plan. No test is more important than the one to obtain eternal life. The Lord, the great Designer of this test, gives us everything He can to help us make it through, and He is the best person to turn to when we need help. All He asks is that we listen to Him and follow Him. I know you think that skipping one night of Institute will give you desperately needed study time. I know you think that you’d do better on your exam if you could just spend a whole weekend in your class notes instead of in your scriptures. But I also know that putting the Lord last when He’s your greatest source of direction is a poor way to ace a final and an even poorer way to ace life.
Don’t leave God out of your life, nor out of your finals week. Allow Him to be with you and make time for the things He would want you to do. Ask for His help — He knows everything, afterall — and then earn it. Just as we need to put a lot of effort into passing a class, we need to put a lot of effort into showing the Lord that we desire His presence in our lives. He’s always willing to help us, but He needs to know that we want Him to.
When the weekend rolls around and you really want to miss a ward function to review your notes again, remember your Creator, the one who made everything about you possible. Put Him first and I promise He will put you first. It’s an equation that you won’t see on any test except the one that matters most.