Archive for February, 2009

Why I Love Living On Campus…

People often wonder what it is I do for fun when you live in a town 20 miles South of Amarillo. 
My friends from the metroplex made fun of me when I declared my destination of Canyon for college.
Of course what they didn’t keep in mind was that Canyon, small as it may be, is a college town, and there are always students around waiting to hang out and make memories. 
 Most of the fun to be had I’ve found in Residental Living. The dorms have always been a great outlet for networking, meeting people and having a good time. 
I’m the R.A. on the third floor of Ruth Cross Hall, and I love going to great lengths to get everyone out into the lobby together for one reason or another, be it games or otherwise. 
This semester we discovered a Karaoke video game that has resulted in some sick singing sessions, and the making of some music videos to be premiered on facebook, soon. Usually we’re dressed up in costume, per my dress up bucket. 
The programs have likewise been pretty rocking! The third floor lobby recently got a make over made up of butcher paper and spray paint. Below is a picture of the Cross Hall Resident’s creations during the “Learn to Spray Paint” program this month. 
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 I often wonder what students do for fun when they’re not on campus. Sit and watch movies in their apartments I would assume. They also have to drive to campus to go to class every day!
I really cannot imagine living that way–I think on campus is the way to go!
Another great example of the fun to be had on campus is captured in the photo below.
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This is a picture of a Rave party I threw to celebrate a fellow R.A.’s twentieth birthday! We set up multiple strobe lights, and black lights, and we had all the attendees “Bring Your Own Glow.”
The Cascada Remix of Skater Boy was a favorite of the Cross and Jones Hall Freshmen who attended this party.
Though our legs were very sore from dancing the night away, I’m proud to say we successfully made on-campus living a rave!

(Special Props go out to Dallas Bass for DJing the ordeal! )

The Standard of Life

This week has been difficult, to be honest.  It is one of those weeks when you are constantly being measured and have been found lacking.  Whether it is the rejection of a graduate school or the admonishment of a friend that really loves you and wants the best for you, life is continually comparing you to a standard.

I mean the whole collegiate experience is chock full of this process.  This is what the hundreds of papers and tests are all about: all measuring you to a standard.  College is like an incubation period for humans where everyone goes after high school to become adjusted to the “real” life and the “real” world.  If you make it through, you move on to real life.  If you don’t, the consequence is that you are sentenced to a smaller bank account and two cars instead of three.

We have a medical clinic on campus so that college students will learn to go to the doctor when they’re sick instead of mommy and daddy to hold their hands and care for them.

We have dorms on campus so students will learn the skills to help them in real life, like when to wake up for class or a job since mom and dad are gone.  

We have student organizations so students will learn how to interact with like-minded individuals and how to never challenge themselves socially, ideologically, or any other way. 

The whole process of college is a measurement of the individual to the standards imposed by society.  College teaches you how to play by the rules so that you can meet the standard.

Now, I am not one of those anti-establishment individuals who deconstruct reality until it is just a big mess.  Standards are not necessarily evil.  They definitely have a place in society.  If we didn’t have standards, society wouldn’t work.  Doctors could be a hack off the street with a high school biology class under his belt.  However, it is important to keep everything in perspective. 

Unfortunately, sometimes I don’t meet the standard imposed, whether it is my standard, my friends’ standard, my boss’s standard, the college’s standard.  Sometimes standards suck.  Sometimes I get sick of trying to meet the standard especially when I fail often.

It is to no avail to pretend that I will always meet the standards of life.  Nevertheless, it does not make the failure any less difficult.  I still get pissed at myself when I fail.  There are times when I just want to quit everything, reverting back to the schoolyard kid who just takes his ball and goes home when he doesn’t get his way.  According to society then, I don’t meet the standard of maturity or adulthood.  It is a vicious cycle isn’t it?

This is why I have such a begrudging relationship with grace.  I know I need it and sometimes I beg for it.  Yet I absolutely don’t like the fact that I need it.  If it wasn’t for grace, I would be dead but I don’t like that this is true.  My pride takes offense.  This is why anytime I fail, I have such an identity crisis.  Because I like to believe that I am sufficient, good enough, cool enough, handsome enough, right enough.  Time and time again, though, life, my friends, teachers, my bosses, and, most of all, God show me otherwise.  These are humbling moments but needed.  Because they’re right.  I need grace a lot.  I will need grace for the rest of my life.  

It is a constant battle then to battle my pride and put myself in my right place in relation to world and the universe, but I’ve got to do it.  This is the battle that I am called to.  To realize my insufficiency in light of a greater sufficiency of grace and mercy.  Thank God for the greater sufficiency, for He is the Great Sufficiency.  And thanks to all my friends who remind me of this time and time again.  I absolutely need it more than oxygen.

Blinded by the Options

Oh, man.

I was so set on knowing exactly what I wanted to do when I graduated, which is in three months, BTW.  Unfortunately, I am less convinced now than I have been in a while.

Teaching.  I was going to apply to Teach for America, the prestigious government program that places you in the most impoverished schools in the nation.  The Alum for this program are offered all sorts of really prestig scholarships to far off universities like Harvard, Yale, you know the rest.  My application was pretty killer.  A high GPA with plenty of campus involvement along with a steady job at the university.  I nailed the first two phases of the application process.  It was time for the final interview.  It was located at Albuquerque, NM so two of my best friends and I loaded up and took off for Land of Enchanted.

The interview was a nerve-racking all day kind of thing. At the end I had to have a personal interview.  I was very honest with the interviewer, letting her know about my uncertainties and insecurities, which are many.  Overall, though, I felt like I had a great interview.  Now it was time to wait.

I waited for a month, feeling pretty sure my fall would be spent in Philadelphia wearing sweater vests and scarves teaching the inner city kids why the Civil War was about sovereignty in the form of slavery.  The day came when the email appeared in my inbox.  And it said what I had already knew: I had made it.

Nope. Instead, it said “Thank you for applying but we cannot offer you the position at this time.”  Oh man, my heart sunk a good ways.  No scarves or sweater vests or Philadelphia or Civil War.

I quickly decided I would just take my time to graduate, stretch one difficult semester into two light ones.  Christmas break came though and with it came a wind of change.  It is time to leave. I have been in the city of Canyon for fourteen years.  It is time to leave this beautiful, small, Republican, Evangelical oasis in the midst of fields of sorghum, wheat, cotton, and bovines.  So I buckled up and signed up for the hardest semester of my life.

I decided I would go to graduate school.  My heart has always desired to attend a Christian seminary and learn all of the deep things of the Bible and theology.  Why not go now?  Especially when I don’t know what else to do.  Thus, I began the ridiculously long application processes for seminary.

Then, after my heart had set on going to seminary, my campus minister asked me some really difficult questions about if I was ready to go to seminary yet.  It seemed to him like seminary was more of a second or third choice rather than a first.  He also presented me with a number of other opportunities I could participate in next semester.  I was crushed and overwhelmed.

My heart was set on seminary, just like it was on Teach for America.  It was tired of having made a decision and then being let down.  In the midst of this tremendous angst and uncertainty, I went to my loving parents to vent.  Thankfully, due to their wisdom and godliness, they offered me some wisdom.  First, they told me to chill out.  Then, they shared with me their story of how God closed multiple doors before he opened the right one.  This made a lot of sense to me and I realized how the certainty of my future had become an idol in my heart, breeding a security apart from God.

So, 

I have no idea where I will be in 7 months.  Hey, I don’t even know where I will be in 4 months.  That’s ok, though.  It’s even beautiful.  I will continue to cast my fishing pole in every direction in the hopes that I will get a bite.  God will provide for me just what I need, as he knows better what I need that I do.  I am still applying to seminary but I am putting my name out for a number of other options as well.  It will be neat to see what God is going to do.  It will take a lot of faith and a lot of trust, but I am confident he will reveal what I need to do all in the right time.  

This has freed me up from anxiety and depression.  I am free to pour myself into the people of this campus now because I’m not worried about tomorrow.  What a beautiful truth.  Jesus said it best: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” and “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”  Praise God.

Some may call me foolish for this dedicated uncertainty.  I don’t mind though.  Life is an adventure.  Part of the adventure is the uncertainty.  So, God guide me and lead me and I’ll see what happens.