Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Body of Christ at Gordon College

I've been here at Gordon College for 5 weeks and 2 days - no, I promise I'm not counting intentionally. I've just got a running calendar in my brain. I'm adjusting very well, and I truly know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has placed me here at Gordon for such a time as this. 

A big thing on this campus is community, but I've discovered that no matter how much superficial community there may be, everyone is sort of isolated within themselves. My goal over the next few years is to begin to find a way to develop intimacy within the context of healthy, biblical community. 

On this campus, people pretend that they have it all together and the real issues are almost taboo to talk about, but I don't really care about that. I came into Gordon with the mentality of developing authentic relationships, and that requires being real and honest with people about where you're at…while still maintaining appropriate boundaries. I've found that as I've shared bits and pieces of my heart with people, they're able to open up and it breaks down the walls that are so common on this campus. I've seen that as I've been intentional about authenticity, it's beginning to spread at least throughout my dorm and with the transfers that I came in with. 

I've talked a lot about community in previous blogs, and I've been exploring the concept for quite some time, but it's taking on a new depth to me in this season. Living together with a roommate, 14 other girls on my floor, 96 [ish] people in my dorm, and 1500 students on campus really brings the issue of community to the forefront. How do we live cohesively as a unit in a way that is glorifying to God?

In 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, Paul is talking about how we, as believers in Christ, all belong to one body. It gives the picture of a physical body saying that each part has a function and a purpose. One part of the body cannot perform the same tasks as another part. It simply was not created that way. As a result of this, if we lose the use of one part of the body, we do suffer a great loss. The other parts of the body eventually adapt to pick up some of the duties of the other part of the body, but it doesn't make the situation better. 

Verses 25-26 (MSG) say this:
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
If I take this and apply it to life at Gordon (which is applicable because we could be considered the Church with a capital C), I interpret it as saying that each student, each faculty member, each staff has something crucial to contribute to the community at Gordon. To live in intimate, biblical, Christ-centered community, it is evident that we have to recognize the fact that we are all individuals with unique things that we are able to bring to the table, yet find a way to appreciate that and not say that since we're all so different, we should just stay within our little cliques or friend groups. 

One of my desires for Gordon College as a whole is that we open our eyes and our arms to the people who surround us on a daily basis and welcome them into our lives. I've talked to countless people in the past 5 weeks who feel so isolated and lonely because no one has taken the time to step back and invite them in. These people who live on the fringes of the Gordon bubble have much to contribute - their voice matters just as much as the rest of us - and we should live in a way that amplifies each other's voices and encourages the strengths of others. 

Practically, I think that the first step to achieving a goal as broad as this would be to step out of your comfort zone and talk to someone who seems to be completely different than someone you would normally associate yourself with. There are so many different types of people here, and we learn valuable lessons by interacting with those who are not the same as us. Have a conversation. Sit with a different group of people at dinner. 

If the people reading this take only one thing away, let it be this:

Live intentionally. Seek out new relationships. Embrace the uncomfortable, for that is where the transformation takes place. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I Will Climb This Mountain With My Hands Wide Open

I've been here at Gordon College for exactly four weeks today, and I can't even explain how great it feels to be here.

The first two weeks of being here were extremely challenging - physically, academically, spiritually, and emotionally. I missed my brother more than anything, and although I never really wanted to go home, I found myself missing the comfort and predictability of home more than I would care to admit.

All the fears and anxieties I had coming in have been assuaged though, and I really am thriving. God has been so faithful in the transition here, and I'm very proud of the progress and the steps I've taken to ensure that this transition has been a success.

I realized early on that I could not do this alone - so within the first week of being here, I had set up a system of accountability for myself that has greatly assisted me with staying on track. I have weekly meetings with a mentor who checks in with me and who I feel safe enough to be honest with, and I also meet with a woman in the Academic Support Center to help me with time management. There's also another Mercy grad on campus who I've gotten the opportunity to connect with and she's definitely been a great help in feeling connected. I love her.

When it comes to meals, I try to plan to eat as many as I can with other people. If I plan my meals, I have no excuse not to go. Also, that is a wonderful opportunity for me to get to know people and hear their stories and their heart for the Lord.

My roommate has been incredible, and the people in my dorm are super friendly. I consider myself extremely blessed to be living in a dorm that is known all across campus for it's community. It's the smallest, and oldest dorm on campus, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Also, God has opened some doors for me to walk alongside of a couple girls around campus as they go through some similar things that I have come out of. It's really encouraging to me to be able to share the tools that I've learned and encourage them that freedom is real and that they can get here too. I've very excited to see how God continues to move in their lives, and I fully intend on sticking with them through this process.

Another thing that I'm in the process of doing right now is applying to be a resident advisor for next semester. Essentially, that means that I would have a leadership position on the floor, and I would be responsible for facilitating community and building relationships with the girls on my floor. If you've been following my blog for the past couple years, you'd know that that is an issue that I've really been thinking about and praying through and I really feel as though this would be a great opportunity for me to put my learning into practice.

Being an RA is something that would get me out of my comfort zone, and I know that it would be a huge challenge for me. I'm really excited about that though, because since coming to Gordon, my whole thing has been getting out of my comfort zone and being uncomfortable but moving forward anyways. I've learned that it's in those times where I'm living outside of my comfort zone that growth occurs. I long to live a life of constant growth and learning.

Moving forward in my personal, spiritual, and academic life is something that I place so much value in right now. I want my years at Gordon to be transformative. I want to graduate from here as someone who's life has been enriched and who's worldview has been expanded. I'm taking every opportunity I'm given very seriously (but not too seriously because I still like to have fun!).

Another thing that I love about being here is all the opportunities we have to worship. We have chapel twice a week and convocation on Fridays, Chasement on Thursday nights, and Catacombs on Sunday nights. It's such a blessing to gather with other students and worship.

Tonight, I went to Catacombs and it was so refreshing. God really challenged me with a single line from one of the songs - "There's nothing I hold onto." I realized that even though I've been doing really well here at Gordon and it's been incredible, I've still been holding onto some things that I need to surrender to the Lord. It's a constant struggle for me when it comes to certain things, because I'll surrender them, but then I'll pick them back up again. I feel like a hamster running on a wheel...but now, I'm getting off that wheel and surrendering them once and for all, and it's going to be a long process, but I'm excited for what it's going to look like to walk it out.

Overall, my first four weeks at Gordon have been nothing short of unforgettable. I've met so many new people, learned so many new things, experienced freedom in ways that I never thought possible for myself, and seen God move in real, tangible ways. If this is any indication of what the next two and a half years here are going to look like, then I have no doubt that these years will be some of the best years of my life.
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