There’s no better way to procrastinate your very last college paper than to reenter into the world of blogging!
I realize that it’s been over six months since I’ve last posted, which just shows how badly the internet is in need of a life update (or not. my mom is already aware.) However, that would be silly because in probably two months I’ll be giving myself a life update because I AM BASICALLY A COLLEGE GRADUATE (after I write this one paper, of course.) Anyways, I’m job searching and praying and waiting and expecting wonderful things to happen. Today, my main girl Katie and I ran into each other as we picked up some of our final graduation things– like the name card you give to graduation name readers. I’m just trying to dwell in all of these final moments. I’m really good at just going through motions and sitting in the denial phase, which I’m trying not to do this week.
In these final moments, I got to spend time with my campus ministry. Each fall UCM Christian Campus House has a banquet. Basically to convince people to give them money so they can continue doing great things. This year I had the opportunity to speak at the event. Writing this speech reminded me of how much joy I find in writing and blogging and storytelling. So, with that, I’d love to share with you how the Campus House changed my life during college.
Here it is:
It was week of welcome my sophomore year—the Wednesday night worship service where they talk about the values and whatever. It’s the night where many students decide if this is “there” place or not. I hate that decision, but committing to a community is important and this night is crucial in that decision.
The room was full of students, new and old. The new sat awkwardly on the edges or uncomfortably next to a new friend. the old in the middle of the room or boldly on the front row reunited with friends after the summer break and ready to convince every new student to be their best friend.
I sat on the far, right, closer to the front. I only remember this detail because in the very left corner, on the last row far behind everyone else was this, what seemed to me, a very sweet, nervous girl. A very sweet, nervous girl that I was about to convince to be my best friend and hang out me every day. She looked so scared I genuinely just wanted to make her feel welcome. I wanted her to know that she belonged.
So, after the service ended I was ready to make my approach. Now that I think about it, I sound like a boy trying to hit on a girl in a bar, and maybe these two actions are very similar, but this approach didn’t turn out so great. Especially because the room was so full that by the time I schmoozed my way to the other side at the end of the service, the sweet, nervous girl had already made her escape. Man she was fast.
My heart dropped. She didn’t think she belonged. She was never coming back and probably forever thought that we hated her, I told myself.
In the middle of the room, with a similar face of defeat was Ashlen, the woman’s pastor at the Campus House. We looked at each other and started talking about that girl. We both noticed her and her speedy exit and hated it very much. Ashlen joined me in that moment, boldly saying “Let’s just pray she comes to the next event. I really hope she comes to the next event.”
And ya know what.
She didn’t even come to a single week of welcome event. I know this because I remembered her face like it was my own (and I was seriously on the look out.)
I was praying for her to give us a second chance.
I knew how hard the beginning of freshman year was. (I lived less than a mile from my paren’ts and I even cried.)I just wanted to be sure that she knew she belonged. That UCM was a place that she could thrive and that Jesus is always better than her present situation.
Week of welcome was over and without a sight of this girl, I had lost hope. I couldn’t get caught up on one person when there was ten other new freshman I could spend my time befriending. So I stopped worrying about her. I was confident that the Lord was better at taking care of people than me anyways.
Weeks went by and community groups were beginning.
This was my first semester as a Community Group leader and with several other group options, I was honestly just hoping someone would show up, eager to study Romans with me.
I think we met on Tuesdays, I honestly don’t remember but that detail isn’t important. What’s important is that way too many freshman girls were flooding into my parent’s living room on Gay Street. If you’ve ever been to my parent’s house you know that parking can be a bit confusing. You have to park on the backside or down the street a bit. As I was standing on my front porch explaining the parking situation to a girl on the phone, I looked down the block to see THAT SWEET, NERVOUS GIRL walking into my house. Coming to MY community group.
Lacy, Sophia and the other group leaders didn’t see her that one night. I did and after not coming to a single week of welcome event, this home girl decided to come to my community group. It was an actual miracle and I was ecstatic.
You can assume how excited I was in the moment, quickly telling the girl how excited I was to see her. I even told her about how I saw her that one night, not even questioning how stalkerish and awkward it probably was.
It was a miracle and she needed to know.
She’s come back ever since, transformed into a bold, yet still sweet girl who even works for the Campus House now. I’m talking about Emily Arnold, she’s the best.
(We took this selfie yesterday at my graduation party.)
But I tell you this over drawn story because each aspect of it describes a reason why I love the Campus House. Why I chose to invest my life here for the past years to impact my life in the way it has. At the Campus House Jesus does some major work. At the Campus House the leaders join you where you’re at. And at the Campus House you become a leader.
First. At the Campus House Jesus does some major work.
I think my story about Emily is proof of it all. But before beginning to write all of this down I asked my friends here what they liked about the Campus House. I can speak for most of them saying that with the Campus Houses’ investment in them, that they started living Jesus.
Now, Brad is a huge fan of story—and according to our good friend Donald miller (or who I wish was my good friend), every good story must include a character that wants something. When you want something you know why you want it so badly—if you didn’t know why it wouldn’t be worth the overcoming the conflict. At the Campus House students are challenged to know what they want and why they want it. Then, to do things that only are directed towards what you want.
In public relations we call this strategy before tactics. You see, people that are bad at their jobs in PR just do a whole bunch of stuff without any specific reasoning. It all just sounds nice. But, people that are good at their jobs know that why is always the most important question. It’s the same thing in life.
From my experience, I’ve noticed that a lot of students that enter the Campus House aren’t really sure of why they do much of anything. They just picked a major that sounds nice and came to the Campus House because they are either looking for friends or enjoyed their church youth group and are hoping for some similar kind of community.
However, it’s also from my experience that students leave transformed by the kingdom of God. They understand, or are at least challenged to think about not only how it is to be a Christian, but also use your gifts and talents for the extension of the Kingdom. We are challenged to know that while anyone can serve, the uniqueness of being a Christian is that we are called to serve Jesus and God’s Kingdom because we believe in redemption even as nurses, painters and public relations practitioners. We are challenged to live for shalom. For the purpose of bringing Heaven to earth in whatever sphere of life we’re in.
This idea has really changed the way people live and think about their field of study. There are far more ways to extend the kingdom of God than just being a pastor, and at the Campus House students are challenged to see where their deepest passion and the world’s greatest need collide. If the world’s greatest need is Jesus, then how does Jesus fit in with nursing, painting, and public relations.
However, this is a big challenge. It is hard to live for the Kingdom everyday. Especially when you have five tests, three papers and two discussion boards to complete. Oh, and you work part-time and are supposed to have a group meeting on a chapter you’ve barely looked over oh and sleep. It’s all hard, and will get harder because we’re human and are in crazy need of Jesus. Every single day.
I have to remind myself daily how badly I need the gospel and Jesus because doing it alone is much too difficult, but I often like to try.
For me, some of those daily reminders have been through the leaders of the Campus House.
At the Campus House, the leaders really meet you where you’re at. For me, they’ve been a voice of Jesus to me.
That night with Emily, Ashlen met me in the middle. Literally and figuratively. And if you’re not aware, once you join leadership team you’re basically forced to meet with a staff leader each week. And now that I’m not even on the leadership team, Mikala (another CCH woman’s leader) still invests in my life. Just a few weeks ago I stopped in Brad’s office (the pastor man), talking about story and marketing and public relations and my fears about all of the above. They have always stopped whatever they were doing to just be with me. Those moments always remind me of how Jesus was towards people. There was no agenda or judgment, they let you just be and joined you in that. Mikala regularly meets me at my well. And Lettie’s, and Kesli’s and Melissa’s and Audrey’s and so many other’s. It’s really incredible.
The Campus House’s focus on discipleship and leadership is so unique and beneficial and through Mikala and Caitlyn and Josh and Brad and Ashlen’s example, we also get to practice becoming leaders.
I’ve experienced some pretty awful leaders. From my part-time jobs, I’ve learned that many people just have the title as leader, but are far from actual leaders. They just tell a lot of people what to do.
At the Campus House the student leaders are given a lot of responsibility to become great leaders, and I am confident that these skills are not only used to help the UCM and Campus House community, but are also essential skills to practice for our future work forces. I think a great example of Christ is shown through what kind of leader you are. I think great leaders know their why.
I love that the Campus House in a way trains students to be the why kind of leaders.
If you’re not aware, the leadership team meets every week to talk about the community groups, but also learn and question important leadership skills.
Of course we go to college to learn—I knew nothing about public relations coming in and now I am weirdly considered a public relations professional.
But through my involvement in the Campus House, I’ve gotten to learn how to become a leader, too. I notice the skills I’ve practiced leading discussions about Romans and Pslams be used in group projects as well.. Creating an environment where every voice is heard and is important. Learning how to meet people where they are at. Learning to really listen.
Those opportunities are rare and so useful. While at first you don’t think they are directed necessarily at Christ but they are actually totally essential in living the gospel in your future place of work.
Now, in conclusion, I want you to know that the first time I walked into the Campus House was for a metal concert in 7th grade.
The second time I walked into the Campus House was for a worship service. I think is the one they do at the beginning of each semester talking about the values and whatever.
My two friends from high school dropped me off and I walked straight into the bathroom, sat on the toilet and waited for music to start.
I didn’t even need to use the toilet, I was just terrified.
Once I was sure the service had started and I didn’t have to stand in a corner alone, I schmoozed my way to the back row and then quickly left after the “shalom” moment.
Now if we’ve ever met you know this sort of behavior is basically opposite of who I am. I mean, according to that Gallup Straight Finders Test, woo (winnings others over) is my number one strength. But for some reason I was more nervous to enter the Campus House than I have been for job interviews, tests or travels.
I was nervous because I knew it would be great and I wanted to make it right. I wanted to belong.
When I saw Emily that night I think I really just saw myself. We were both terrified but little did we know, the Campus House would actual be a critical place in both of our lives. That’s the beautiful part about the Campus House, we get to see ourselves and walk with each other in that. I’m confident that in the Campus House Jesus does major work, that the leaders so gently meet you where you’re at and that you will also become a leader and we all get to do this together. The Campus House does life-changing work and it’s really been an honor getting to be apart of it.
(Some of my main CCH chicks. Love em.)