Dear Younger Me Series
"Stand Firm in the Faith" by Evan Troka
This week's "Dear Younger Me" letter is written by Valor Christian and University of Oklahoma alum Evan Troka. Evan's story will resonate with anyone making a transition - from high school to college, from college to the professional world, from one job to another. His message of "standing firm in the faith" will serve as encouragement for anyone in that place in between. Evan and his wife, Jordan, live in Houston, Texas.
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13
Dear Younger Evan,
Take a deep breath. It’s going to be hard for you to believe all that I am about to tell you. I look back now and can’t believe all that has happened over the past 6 years. Sit back and soak this up and believe me when I tell you that everything that happens will truly transform you and these experiences will teach you to always “stand firm in the faith.”
You’re going to graduate and from Valor in May of 2011 and feel the weight on the world fall on your shoulders. Everything you knew and everything you felt comfortable with is about to change. You are about to pack up and move 700 miles to Norman, Oklahoma and begin your college experience. You won’t know what to expect and I’ll be honest - you’ll be scared sometimes. You’ll come from a place where you felt like you knew everyone to a place where you will feel like a deer in the headlights. You will only have your girlfriend, who will later become your fiancé, and eventually your wife (more on that later…). Your freshman roommate will become one of your best friends and after a few months you will finally begin to feel like you have found your place at Oklahoma.
In the spring of 2012, you’ll do something that you never expected. You’ll start working as equipment manager for the Sooner football team. Let me tell you, what a ride. You’ll make some great friends and have some great memories, but most importantly you will learn a lot about yourself. The experience will truly teach you about what you stand for and what you believe. You see, not everyone believes what you believe. And while I know you know that, it is going to become very clear over the course of 4 years in a college town. You’ll struggle to find your place but you’ll feel a sense of peace when your lifelong best friend transfers to OU for the next 3 years. Your undergraduate experience will be filled with some of the best memories of your life. Through it all never forget that it is not always going to be easy and that’s okay. Trust in the Lord and He will guide your way – stand firm in the faith.
In January 2015, as you prepare for your last semester as an undergrad, feelings of fear will surface again. You’ll feel like you are not ready for what is to come next. Pray about it. Let the Lord guide you to where He wants you to go. I know that it can be tough to relinquish that control but God is good. He will move you and guide you in a way that helps you become all that you are meant to be. I wish I could tell you that it would easy, but it won’t. All I can tell you is that you’ll find out who you really are. You’ll decide to go to graduate school at OU and continue to work in the athletic department. You’ll begin to see the dark side of college sports and again you’ll feel conflicted and confused. You’ve wanted to work in college athletics for so long but now your future begins to feel foggy. You’ll spend the next year and half wrestling with the idea of what to do next. All I can say is trust God; trust him each and every day.
You will marry the love of your life in August 2016 but the first 4 months of marriage will be difficult on both of you. You see, Jordan is in PA school in Houston. You’ll navigate the situation as best you can and continue to seek the Lord’s guidance along the way. You’ll continue to wrestle with your career. You will spend many days and nights trying to figure out the next step. You’ll apply to jobs all over the country and won’t hear anything positive back from any of them. It’s going to break you. You are going to feel so discouraged and so let down. You’ll begin to question your past decisions and begin to feel yourself slipping away from your foundation. I urge you – stand firm in the faith.
His plan will not be made clear initially, but in due time you will begin to understand. You’ll hear the Lord call you to move to Houston, Texas to be with your wife and you will feel yourself hesitant to go. You’ll become so caught up in finding a job and beginning a career that you will be blinded to the needs of your new family. You’ll tell yourself that this is not what I want, but you’ll hear God tell you that this is where you are supposed to be. You’ll feel the same way you felt when you moved out to begin your life at OU. Learn from the experience and trust that the Lord will continue to move in your life. Listen, trust in the Lord.
Listen, this is where things get tough. This is where you’ll find yourself at your lowest. You’ll feel yourself lacking confidence, ambition, and motivation. You’ll begin to question why God led you down this road. You’ll struggle to find out where your career is supposed to start. Don’t let yourself compare your path to the paths of those around you – your path is your path. I know that is scary but never lose hope. Never lose your faith. A couple months after moving to Houston, things will begin to fall into place, I can’t tell you all the details right now but trust me when I say that it will all be worth it. During this time, you will feel so anxious, crying out for answers. I get it, it is hard but the Lord will use this time to teach patience, and in the end it will all be worth it. Believe me.
There is so much more I wish I could tell you but somethings are better left unsaid. You’ll look back and never believe how much you’ve grown up. You’ll have 5 of the best friends anyone could ask for. I know that I don’t need to tell you but you’ll have the most amazing wife in the world. Don’t let a day go by without letting her know how much you love her. She will do more for you than you will ever realize. Mom and Dad are going to move to Fort Collins, who can blame them, you can’t beat the view. Oh, and you’ll never believe this but you watched OU basketball play in the Final Four. I’ll let you find out what happens…
Take care and tell the family hello,
P.S. Don’t watch Super Bowl XLVIII, wait for Super Bowl 50.
Bottom of the Ninth #198 - March 10, 2017