Besides the moment when I first met my RAs, one of the earliest and clearest memories I have of my time at Redeemer took place on the first morning of my first year in Dorm 5. I didn’t expect to sleep well that first night in a new bed, but I woke up refreshed. And as I was lying in bed, with the sun streaming through the window, I thought to myself, “How could anyone not thrive here?”
That sounds a little cheesy, but it’s true! And it’s surprising that that thought came to mind, considering that I was kind of a homebody. I didn’t really want to leave my family to come to a place where I only knew 2 people and had no clue what I was even going to study.
But as I look back, and as I’ve invited others to help me reflect on my four years here, I’ve found that it is true. I have thrived.
How do you summarize possibly the best four years of your life? I thought that maybe I could break it into sections, like how I’ve thrived socially, spiritually, and personally. But as we’ve all learned at Redeemer, it’s hard to isolate spirituality since it is so connected with every other area of life.
I think I’ve experienced this spiritual connection the most through the friendships I’ve developed here. A huge part of the impact Redeemer has had on me has been from campus life. I truly treasure the friends I’ve made through my program, my porch mates, working at Williams, or just meeting someone new at a school event.
There’s something so uniquely special and almost sacred about living life with others, and allowing those deep bonds to form because of your shared faith and the growth you share together. I’ve loved seeing what makes people really tick, deeper than a love for Les Mis, Tim Tams, and Spongebob. I’ve loved watching God slowly, and not so slowly, convict and transform my friends and myself over the years. I’ve loved noticing ways that my RAs impacted me, which in turn, affected the way I was an RA for my girls, and now they are going to be RAs for others. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the true community, love, and care I’ve been a part of has given me a glimpse into God’s heart for his people.
Redeemer has also been a safe place for me to develop personally. Besides being a homebody, I also am not too keen on putting myself out there when I don’t know people or don’t feel comfortable in the environment. But I remember a time at the end of my first year, when I was training to be a LAUNCH leader for LAUNCH, Redeemer’s orientation program and I raised my hand to volunteer for a game even though the game hadn’t been explained the game yet — I was actually excited and had a lot of fun! That may seem trivial for you bold extroverts out there, but for me, it was an epiphany that I was in a safe place surrounded by people who cared about me. And that has extended beyond LAUNCH into being a confident RA, an honest worship leader, a contributing committee member and being an engaging campus rep.
A few weeks ago, my roommate shared this quote with me: “If you want something you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something you’ve never done.” You see, change helps you change. And coming to Redeemer has been one of the most drastic changes that I’ve ever made to my life. And while change can be hard, it can also be good. In stepping out from my life before Redeemer, God has used all these new things in my life to teach me more about Himself, and to shape me more into the person he wants me to be.
That has been an important lesson for me to learn. Thinking about it, I’m kind of at the same place right now where I was four years ago. I’m about to leave this place and these people that have my heart. I’m about to start all over again with new friendships and a new job. But the experience I’ve had at Redeemer has helped me see that losing something makes room for gaining something else. I have to believe that God really does use these major changes for our good and His glory, and I have no way of knowing what could be ahead!
I want to say thanks to all you staff, faculty, and precious friends that have meant so much to me. God is using all of us to impact one another. The cycle continues with each new class, and I trust that God will continue to be at work in this school.