This is a personal story about how God has blessed my current living situation in my second year of college.
You are a first-year college kid, with nowhere to go and no one you know. You have values you wish to stay true to, and though you are enjoying your newfound freedom, you are missing your family like mad.
Suddenly you’re about a year and half in, sitting on a couch in a small apartment. You are singing worship songs with three girls you’ve grown to love. How did I get here?
When I first moved to the city, I knew I needed a church home. At this point, I had seen God act in my life and had given my life to Christ. My father was scared out of his mind to send yet another daughter to college, well aware of the temptations I would face. Even so, I was able to convince him. My family drove me down to the college dorms, we unloaded each box, and they left me to unpack.
There is so much that has lead me to trust in Christ and to seek him, but I will save these stories for another post. All of these past experiences led me to pray that the Lord might use me for His glory during my freshman year on my University’s campus, where everything felt new.
And so, I set out to find a place where I could grow closer to Him.
It wasn’t long before a large baptist church caught my attention. I had grown up in southern baptist churches all my life, so it was familiar culture… potlucks, gossip, hellfire, etc… I stumbled across an invitation card for their first event, and I decided to go.
It was very modern, as this was the church’s college ministry. As I walked into the auditorium, I wandered around aimlessly before I was met by a super friendly face, a tall and sweet girl who told me I could sit with her friends. I sat down and heard the testimonies of a few college kids. They were pouring out their hearts, and telling of how they had been saved by Jesus Christ.
My college campus is particularly large, so there are many campus ministries to pick and choose from. The challenge comes when discerning which of these ministries are biblical and Christ centered.
Anyone can give an inspirational speech, but there is a stark difference between an inspirational speech and a God-given testimony. And in that way, these stories inspired me. I considered making this church my church home. Seeing how friendly the members were made me want to be one of them.
ROOMMATE #1: Brianna
I was able to get the girl’s contact information and I asked her for rides. She took me a few times and we developed a really sweet friendship. She had such a kind heart and she always fit as many people as possible in her car each Sunday. One Sunday, when I asked if her car was already full, she said it was, then replied with this:
And Brianna gave me a ride.
ROOMMATE #2: Riley
I began to look into other churches in the area as well. Though the large baptist church was nice and there were many college kids my age, I was still not sure if it was where I belonged. My best friend Cara had moved into the city with me, and there was a smaller church right near her school that she was excited to tell me about. It was within walking distance for her, but for me it was a bit far… especially seeing as I had no car… But she told me her family was in town and they were able to pick me up to attend the service before they left, so we all went together. I thought it was a nice enough church, and we all enjoyed the service.
Then she told me it was a bit out of their way to drive me back.
I told her not to worry about it and she looked at me like I was just a little crazy.
“Do you really want us to leave you?” But I told her it was fine.
There was a young adult group meeting after the service, and it was my plan to hitchhike a ride home. I really could have taken an uber. It was an uncomfy situation and in all honesty I am not typically the most sociable person. But at the same time, I knew that if Christ were truly with these people, they would be welcoming to me.
And they were. There were young adults, some in college, some not, all of various backgrounds, cultures, and stages of life. I spoke up, introduced myself and jokingly asked if anyone was heading my way. I was offered a bumpy ride home from a student attending my school, and during that ride, I knew it was where I needed to be. I attended a few more times and found the teaching to be sound. I continued to catch rides and I got to know them well, it was my new church home.
A bit later in the year our young adult group thought it would be fun to jump in a trampoline park together after a Tuesday night bible study. After jumping around to our heart’s content, we all made our way to a Culver’s restaurant to eat. I remember I sat across from Cara and a girl named Riley, just having small talk. As we ate, I complained that in this upcoming year I needed to save money, move off campus and get some roommates.
As it turned out, Riley needed a roommate too.
ROOMMATE #3: Emily
Emily came alongside Brianna, and just like that, I had roommates for my sophomore year. All of us with the same goal of living for Christ.
We toured complexes together before scheming and settling on one of the cheapest (yet comfiest) apartments we found. We were all able to save some money, and agreed that though it was small, it was our best option. So we signed the lease. Even among the pandemic, we all agreed to move in together. I won’t ever forget that Emily’s father prayed for us all as we moved into the apartment.
When you reflect and you realize the truth and the value of the people around you, everything changes.
But to all who have received him–those who believe in his name–he has given the right to become God’s children
It was intimidating, walking into that auditorium alone on a college campus where I didn’t really know anyone. It was even more intimidating to leave my comfort zone and stay after the service to ask a random church member for a ride home. The painful truth is, not all churches are inviting, and not all who preach love truly show it. But the true love of Christ brings about a certain confidence and willingness to do what He has called us to do without holding back or worrying what others might think.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
1 John 3:1-3
Each of these girls is so special to me, as I met them all at different points through my first year of college. They each have a different story of the trials in their lives and how they’ve been able to come to God through the brokenness of this world. I hold them so close to my heart.
So there we were: singing worship songs in our tiny common room some days ago, surrounding Emily’s guitar, and I have come to realize what a blessing they are in my life.
I know we are bound to have issues as roommates, but our shared love for God points us to remember what is the most important focus.
It’s only been three weeks and we’ve set off the smoke alarm eight times (four times just last night…) We tried to carry an enormous couch up our tiny stairs and in through our tiny hallway (a Friends moment), We’ve had creatures intrude, grout to scrub, borrowed bikes break down, but in all, I would not trade our apartment for a palace. This is my home, at least for now. The Lord will provide.