I was lying in bed wide-eyed, bewildered, and exhausted. The ceiling was unusually close to my face and I couldn’t get the fear of falling off my bunk bed out of my head. I was in college. I was in college in Kentucky. What on earth was I doing? I had a car’s worth of stuff to my name and now lived on a hall whose name I couldn’t pronounce. I didn’t know anyone and no one knew me. I was afraid and exhilarated at the same time.
Thankfully it doesn’t take very long to make friends at Boyce. In a matter of days I had people to talk to, study alongside, and church search with. Spending time with people only got sweeter the longer I was here. It didn’t take long to realize, however, that those closest to me were the easiest to take for granted. In the name of having fun (yet somehow being studious at the same time) it was dangerously easy to live past the people on my hall.
I started to think about this more and more as I realized the desire I had to be a wife and mom one day. I wanted to intentionally encourage and serve my future family and church. And as each semester passed, the people I lived with became more like family – and easier to take for granted. The correlation unsettled me. All areas of growth in life are connected to union with Christ, and I knew the habits I was forming now would come in to play later in life. But how did living on a hall with 18 girls translate into being a successful wife, mom, and church member down the road? I found the answer to be rather simple: care. I prayed for the grace and strength to care for the people closest to me. And as simple as that is, the implications of such a prayer are gloriously rich.
The New Testament is full of passages that tell us how we are to care for one another. Ephesians talks about loving, speaking truth, building up, being kind, forgiving, and being tenderhearted to one another. I was called to be these things to the girls I lived with. Not just sometimes or when I felt like it. I was called to cultivate a heart attitude that saw people through a lens of this type of care. And friends, unceasing care can only come from the wellspring of Christ. As soon as you buy into the lie that you can muster the “spiritual maturity” to love people well without Christ, you will begin a hard road of neglecting those closest to you.
We have so many things to do – papers to write, meetings to attend, books to read, church activities to plan. One decision at a time though, it becomes easier and easier to choose your schedule than those living around you. I would encourage you to press into Christ, pray for discernment concerning your schedule, and love people with abandon. You won’t regret it. You may get a B on your paper because you stayed up late talking through your roommate’s problems. Or you may wind up sitting in the ER with a girl from your hall instead of attending a concert. But do it. Live life with the people around you. Don’t try to be the captain of your own canoe. Start scrubbing the decks next to someone on the magnificent ship of your immediate context.
That first night in the dorms at Boyce College was quite a memorable one. I had the sense that I was on the brink of adventure, but little did I know just how true that would prove to be. College has the reputation of being a completely unique phase of life, one that can never be revisited or reconstructed. It’s only been a month since graduation and even I can tell that’s true. But what will be visited moving forward are new people and new ministry opportunities. And what will be constructed is church fellowship and families. In light of this, I would encourage you to sow biblical care into your relationships in your college years. You will be reaping from it for a lifetime.
Renee Jarrett is an alumni of Boyce College with a degree in Biblical Counseling. She now works at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC), and lives in Louisville, KY.