In September 2008, I walked on to a beautiful college campus, so excited to be able to start a new career chapter in my life. As I walked past the fountain and up the steps of Sheffield-Thompson I kept thinking: I cannot believe I get to work in such a beautiful place; I cannot believe they picked me of all people to work here!
An hour later, two well-dressed men — one in a bow tie, the other in a sweater vest –walked through my door and entertained me with an impromptu, very jazzed-up version of a church hymn complete with dancing (and just for the record, it was very modest dancing). I remember thinking something along the lines of, “Alright, well, I’ve just signed up to work with a bunch of weirdos.” Needless to say, John Head and Ken Fincher both grew on me and I began to look forward to their many spur-of-the-moment concerts.
My time at Shorter was defined by many stories like the one I just described. When I think of all the wonderful people I have met over the last few years, I can’t help but smile. They were experts in their field, professionals who dedicated their entire lives to studying an area of interest and then sharing their passion, their life calling, with students. It was a wonderful environment and I am so thankful to have been a part of the Shorter family. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I learned so much about higher education, marketing and the importance of brand development. I looked forward to those laid-back summertime work days and I looked forward to those hot August days when the campus would come back alive. I loved when halfway nervous, halfway excited students would come up to me in the hallway and show me their schedule and say, “Can you help me find this classroom?”
This past year has been a tough one, so very different from the previous years. Lots of hurt and tears and confusion. But I am choosing to cling to the good.
And this is what I am taking away from Shorter:
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” C.S. Lewis
There are friends, and then there are friends. You know, the ones that reach out to hold your hand even after you just wiped your runny nose on it because you’ve been crying. The ones that can tell you’ve been having a bad day just by looking at you. The friends that clear their calendars because you need to talk, or just sit and not say anything at all. Those friends that God sets you up with because He knows waaaaaay before you do that you’re gonna need them. Yeah, those friends.
I’ve been blessed to be able to make those kinds of friends at Shorter.
“Never dream of forcing men into the ways of God. Think yourself, and let think. Use no constraint in matters of religion. Even those who are farthest out of the way never compel to come in by any other means than reason, truth, and love.” —from a sermon in the Works of John Wesley
Ever felt like you’ve been looked down or classified as a second-rate Christian for what you believe? Not good enough to measure up to someone else’s definition of a true Christian? It’s not a good feeling. Jesus said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
To me, this means treating people as human beings that have feelings. This means loving people that might not think like you do. It means not showing favoritism. This means treating people right, regardless of whether or not they go to an “approved” church. It means loving them even if they don’t go to church at all.
Another verse that I’ve been reading over and over this year comes from Philippians. I like The Message’s translation of the verse. It goes like this: If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
If you have a heart.
If you care.
Don’t sweet-talk your way to the top.
Lend a helping hand.
I’m taking away a deeper understanding of how it feels to be unfairly judged and automatically discounted simply because of what you believe. I’ve learned that having to deal with that on a day-to-day basis makes you sad. It makes you frustrated. It makes you turn all freaky paranoid. It makes you tired. It wears out your heart.
It’s not bitterness that I am taking away (though I’m not going to lie, I struggle with that), its compassion. It’s a resolve to simply be kind and not turn up my nose at others, whatever differences we might have.
My relationship with Christ has been strengthened in ways that I could not have even imagined over the last few years, especially this year. When you see people you love go through so much turmoil over beliefs, it makes you examine what you believe yourself. It makes you question what you believe. Instead of leaning on explanations that had sufficed in the past, I wanted to find out. I wanted to know what I believed and why.
When that happens, you start turning to the Bible for answers. You start talking to God more. He starts talking to you more. Things get better, even when the little world you made for yourself falls down around you. For the better part of my life, I’ve heard “consider it joy when you go through tough times.” And for the better part of my life, I wondered where James was coming from on that concept. Joy when you feel like crying your eyes out? Joy when somebody is doing wrong by you, by the people you love? We’re supposed to be joyful about that.
See all those questions there? My questioning led to jumping into scripture, and praying and listening. God uses hardships as a time to teach. We just have to be willing students.
Some would say that questioning is bad. I think it’s just another word for growing.
So, thank you Shorter for the great memories and the tough times, the friendships and the heartaches, the laughter and the tears, the lesson in compassion and for making me question.
Public Relations Specialist
4 years of service