High-pitched screams fill the university quad. Girls in matching t-shirts chant and make hand signs. Banners unfurl and balloons fly. There’s laughter. Tears. Surprise. Joy.

It’s sorority bid day.

Most everyone on campus will be excited, it seems, but what if you aren’t?

What if sorority rush doesn’t turn out the way you had hoped it would? Inevitably, some will be cut by their favorite group. Others will choose to drop out of rush altogether.

If so, bid day may turn into a long night. Believe it or not, those who are disappointed still have choices to make, truth to believe, words to say and attitudes to adopt.

I’ve been there. I understand how a disappointing bid day feels. You might be a little sad–I was, too. And if I could go back to that painful, frustrating night and talk to myself, this is what I would say:

Life isn’t over. Sometimes, life turns out differently than we’ve planned. This will happen, again. In fact, life is a series of having to alter our course and of finding alternative solutions. Remember whether you join a sorority or not—your life has great worth. You can help others. You can achieve great things. Disappointment is only a setback, not the end. I love this verse:

Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. (Rom. 12:13 MSG)

You can still have a great year. Being an independent can be fun. You can meet people who you probably wouldn’t have met if you were busy pledging. I made some great friends my freshman year. Our independent group won the spring sing-a-long show and lost an intermural softball championship by one run. It turned out to be a wonderful year.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. (Rom. 12:17 MSG)

Keep an open mind. Don’t make any hasty decisions if bid day turns bad. Rather than turning your back entirely on sororities and fraternities, be flexible. Consider participating in rush next year. Get to know people in different groups. By the time your sophomore year rolls around, you will know if Greek life is for you.

 If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” (Rom. 12:17-19 MSG)

Be happy for your friends who receive their bid of choice–one day it will be your turn. While this was a hard attitude for me to adopt, it is the right thing to do. No matter what happens, pray that God will help you be genuinely happy for friends who receive the bid they want. God blesses hearts that surrender to His plan, instead of surrendering to bitterness. You have choices. Choose to be happy when good things happen to your friends and good things will happen to you.

Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. (Rom. 12:15 MSG)

Be grateful. A large percentage of the world’s population will never have the opportunity even to attend college. Many students can’t afford to go through rush. Even if it doesn’t turn out that well, the rush experience has value. It prepares you for job interviews and professional associations. It introduces you to lots of people on campus. Rush can be a positive experience, if you choose to see it that way.

Keep a smile on your face. (Rom. 12:8 MSG)

Trust that God has a plan for you. Yes, you. If God had a plan for people in the past, then He has a plan for you, too, because He does not change. Accept His plan. Fix your attention on the Lord and He will guide you to the people and places that are right for you. Consider joining a church or campus ministry group this year. Many of these groups are filled with positive, Godly and welcoming people. I love the promise in this verse:

Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Rom 12:2 MSG)

Bid day of my freshman year turned into a long night. And even though rush was disappointing and kind of hurtful that year, I would not change it now. The next year, I received a bid from a sorority I hadn’t even considered before. It turned out to be just right for me. Pledging was fun. Fond memories were made. Some of those women are still my friends, today.

If you are a college freshman facing rush right now, I hope and pray it’s a positive experience. Whatever happens, you will be all right. Cling to God. Accept that our plans must often change. Read these verses from Romans 12 every day. Be friendly. Keep your mind and heart open. Have faith that God has a good plan for you, even if you can’t see it.

And if sorority (or fraternity) rush doesn’t go the way you had hoped, remember that today’s disappointment won’t last forever.

In fact, one day you may look back and marvel at how God blessed and protected you every step of the way.

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