Thursday, September 1, 2011

College Kids and a Letter to Mom

College students. I just love them. I went downtown with a couple people from the MAC (Madison Alliance Church) today to hand out invites to our preview service on 9/18. Picture this: people from a bunch of churches with all their stacks of paper inviting students to come to their events, free iPad drawing by the Catholic group, people from banks, people with football ticket info, Navigators, Campus Crusade. Everyone was there. Then, the students get off the bus and walk towards the stadium for their next orientation event. There are swarms. And you try to get them to take a flyer by holding it out to them when they pass. Making eye contact is good, smiling, wearing a cute outfit, saying hi. Those things generally worked. We ran out of invites.

The Kohl Center where we were--
imagine going to orientation
in a place so huge!
But the greatest thing of all was that I had forgotten how much I love love love students. It was total bliss. Even though we were just handing out invitations as they all lumbered past (need some livestock imagery here because they were a giant herd. When I think "lumbering" I think cattle or other small-brained but large-in-size animals), I loved seeing their faces. I don't know if I was the only one who could read their minds, but I could. Some were excited, others indifferent, some irritated at being thrust so many pieces of paper, others curious. Some of them looked like they really wanted/needed a friend or were homesick-- they hadn't found a little group to go around to the events with-- and those were the ones I had the extreme desire to pull out of the line and ask, "How are you really doing? Are you doing okay? I know you're not having very much fun right now. Orientation sucks, but it will get better. You will make friends. You will love college. You will discover who you really are and what you love." I wanted to hug them and tell them it was going to be alright. They were the ones who were looking for somewhere to go where they would really be seen and valued. They needed a little hope and love and not to feel alone. The worst is feeling alone when you're surrounded by thousands of people and no one sees you, at least, not the real you that you know you are.

Man, I loved it. I walked out of there on cloud 9 with so much energy going through me, I think I was annoying to the people I was with. It reminded me of OCO days and talking to students about SMP trips. I never thought I would reminisce about the ministry fair. Hah! But I think it reminded me of Wheaton because of the students. Being a freshmen in college is such a unique experience because you can be anyone you want to be. You can try new things and no one will know that it's totally different from who you were in high school-- for me, I tried crew (there were people recruiting for UW crew there today, too. I would have handed out their papers too if they had asked me). That was definitely different for me. College is the time when you're looking around to see what really matters to you. Freshman year is fun, but the rest of college (maybe freshman year, too) is one of the most formative times when you learn what you love and what you are for (in the sense of being for or against something). I loved talking to students at Wheaton who were a couple of years younger than me and watching them wrestle with important questions and grow and change and see who God is and who they can be. It's a time that's full of potential, and that's why it's so darn exciting.

My sister is a freshman this year at Wake Forest, and any one of those students today could have been her.

In other news, I had a moment today when I realized that I sounded just like my mom. I would like to dedicate the rest of this post to her:

Dear Mom,
I hope you realize what you've done. Somehow, in raising me, you imparted to me, along with all your noble qualities, your idealism, indignance, directness, strong will, and disregard for the establishment (Mandy and Jon probably have them, too). Today, I was talking on the phone giving a fairly routine spiel on all the reasons why the things an institution is doing are wrong, and then elaborating the way the institution should be and why. It was crystal clear. Then, the person I was talking to said, "Well, do you think God's put you in this position so you can learn submission?" And then I said no and that I didn't believe in submission. Midway through the conversation, when I was contemplating a loaf of French bread, I realized that I was saying the all things that you would say if you were me (or, if I was you, which is more likely!). So, thanks. Neither one of us got to be hippies, but this strand of brazenness will probably inevitably continue through the generations and you and Grandma will be legends. Why is it weird to be women like us? I don't get it. I guess I did get some of it from Dad too, so I can't blame you entirely ; ) Watch out that I don't turn into some kind of radical living in Madison, WI. The climate here might trigger my Roann-like-ness to grow to even greater depths.


  1. I would be honored!
    Plus, I would love it if you turned into a radical!

  2. Care to comment on Eph 5:21 and/or 1 Pet 5:5

    Love the analogy of small-brained animals & students - so fitting - lol!