In my life, I can count on one hand the number of times I have actually felt the Holy Spirit come over me. The most recent occasion was a little over a year ago, while I was laying on the living room couch at home. It was the end of spring break, and a few days earlier I had returned from Chicago. My parents and I had taken part of the week to tour the Windy City as well as the campus of Moody Bible Institute. Chicago was nice enough, Moody was nice enough, but nothing was spectacular. Nothing screamed “I must be in your life for the next four years.”
I plugged in the flash drive they had handed out during the campus tour and started poking around. Welcome page, student life agreement, admissions videos. I watched two or three admissions videos, each one bringing me closer to tears. (Well done, marketing team. Bravo.) By the end I was silently bawling, hoping neither Mom nor Dad would walk around the corner. It was, and still is, inexplicable, so I won’t try to describe it. (Says everyone right before going on trying to describe it). I was helpless to what was happening. The prayers I had been praying–God, show me where to go. I’ll go wherever, but you have to show me–came slamming back into me in the gentlest response. For about 10 seconds, God illuminated my path, and it was to Moody Bible Institute. It was the most crystal clear I have ever felt God’s will, God’s voice, and God’s pull.
And I sit here today, typing the words I didn’t think I would ever type as a student: I have uncontrollable gas.
No, I’m joking. Are you awake?
After much thought and prayer, and prayer, and prayer, I’ve decided to transfer out of Moody.
Leaving Moody does not mean I didn’t hear God. Leaving Moody does not mean I heard him wrong. And leaving Moody does not mean God was wrong. Leaving Moody means God is still in control, and I am still doing my best to be faithful to His calling. I remember a friend I made at a camp in California years ago. After telling us a personal story, she said, “I think God sometimes calls us to go places just to see if we’ll go, and then calls us right back to see if we still trust Him.” I’m not a cat playing “chase the laser pointer” with God as the hand at the other end. I’m a finite being who barely understands algebra, and so is choosing to trust the King of the Universe with a simple life journey.
That being said, I will miss MBI. I will miss chapel, and the echoes of hundreds of students lifting their souls to Jesus at 10 am on a Tuesday morning. I will miss staying up until 2 am with my roommate, almost falling off the top bunk laughing at The Chipmunks remake of pop songs. (Imagine Alvin singing “Y’all gonna make me lose my mind, up in here, up in here.”) I will miss the feeling of the most random facet of Christianity finally being laid out and explained fully. I will miss Soup Day. I will miss Day One. I will miss Study/Reading Days, where nobody studied and nobody read.
I will miss Breakfast at Night, where the same saints that were singing in chapel become goofballs, and wear the most bizarre arrangements of clothing known to man. Or, as my old roommate Alyssa put it, “Breakfast at night is everything people think college is going to be.” If that scares you, it should. See below.
Speaking of brothers, Ian and Steven were way up there. They’ll probably both be crazy cool, hip pastors someday with congregations that absolutely adore them, because those are just the kind of guys they are. But they aren’t concerned with being cool. (Obviously. Look at Ian’s face.) They care so deeply about getting the Good News out to those who need it. Which is everyone, by the way. I thank God I got the chance to meet them and hang out around their coolness for a year.
I will miss Missions Conference. I will miss hours of volleyball on the beach. I will miss sunny days in the plaza. I will miss taking the train to work, but having to wait on the platform in 0º weather. Oh wait, no I won’t.
I will miss random BroSis events. I will miss planned BroSis events. I will miss having a small piece of earth I knew was home, with girls surrounding it that I knew were family. I will miss sitting in the lounge with the ladies of Smith 5. I will miss them supporting me in the weirdest ways, like a few of them throwing a party first semester when I had a cyst that ruptured.
I will miss the prayers offered offered by everyone so freely. I will miss the daily pizza in the SDR. I will miss my boss’s dog, Bruce. Man…that one hurts. I’m gonna miss him a lot.
I will miss The Office parties with Sara and Lauren. Wherever we could fit them in–9am, 9pm, 12am–we made it happen. A makeshift tv stand of chair, trashcan, laptop, and everyone crowded on the bottom bunk with blankets and snacks. I think that’s what kept me alive all year: knowing I had to present the wonderful gift that is The Office to those two.
I will miss getting mail in CPO, because mail is just really cool. I will miss Informal’s improv shows, giving me a chance not only to not study, but to laugh until I cry. (“I will do it! I will take the ring to Meow-dor!”) I will miss Dr. Marty telling us of the worst betrayals, wars, and slaughters in the Bible, whilst chuckling his old man chuckle. I will miss Professor MacRae and her soft-spoken, but stone-solid presence, preaching on everything from money to grace.
I will miss exploring the city by going on late night ice cream runs or to a 24 hour Starbucks. I will miss becoming friends with people for no other reason than you’re in the same major, or on the same floor, or walked to Target together the first week of school. (Hi Curtis. I haven’t forgotten you). I will miss Dean. I will miss P-Nikes. I will miss all of the wisdom the staff and faculty would’ve crammed into my noggin in the next 3 years.
I will miss the notes and chocolates on my desk from the sweetest friends who knew I was stressed, or overworked, or running on no sleep. I will miss the million churches I could go to within a 15 minute walk of my dorm door.
I will miss the smells of bacon and brownies wafting out of the kitchen and down the hall. I will miss Open Hall. I will miss Joe’s. I will miss the Game Room. I will miss meeting with Moody Campus Radio. I will miss trying to creatively cram a life’s worth of belongings into a broom closet.
That’s not something I’ll just miss with Sara though–Alexis is a great photographer too. As a matter of fact, she took the featured photo you see at the top of the page. Check out more of her work at www.thewanderersworks.com, and learn just what kind of investment you’re making if you go to her. Alexis is also one of the most down to earth, selfless, Jesus-praising, Jesus-seeking, humble women I have ever met.
I will miss trips to Wal Mart just around the corner. I will miss working on random projects like Mr. Webb. I will miss walking with Lauren and within 3 strides she’s left me 12 feet behind. I will miss sleeping in on Saturdays and lazy weekends in the dorm.
And of course where would I be without my roommates? Alyssa was first. Bless her heart, she put up with all of my freshman antics and naiveté. If her part as the outgoing senior was to create a cynic out of the incoming freshman, she passed. And Cynthia, a transfer student come spring semester, brought her own healthy dose of cynicism, quickly earning her the nickname Cynical Cindy. But both of these ladies have seen me laugh, seen me cry, and still support me wholeheartedly. They are my sisters, and I love them dearly.
But even after all of this, sometimes words in the moment don’t do the moment justice. Sometimes words carry more weight if they’ve aged a bit, and collected some dust and memories along the way. Here’s a journal entry from 7 months ago, written the day after classes had started back up.
January 13, 2015
Late Tuesday night
“Lord help me to love you love you love you. Please be my all. Shatter my idols and break every chain. I want to be useful for the kingdom. I want to be used by the King. Do what is necessary, Lord. Prepare me for the pain that will come as you chisel out the bleak parts of my heart. Sustain me through the darkness that will inevitably cause me to question and panic.
And all of this Lord, for one thing:
That I may be a more willing, more genuine servant for the cause of Christ.
Let this be my dearest ambition, with my deepest desire being that a multitude of other lost souls will continually be finding their way into the arms of Jesus.
There’s pushback from the world, Lord, I know. Help unbelievers to see with new eyes, hear with new ears, and love with new hearts…”
Let me be clear: my purpose in life is not to write books, or run a blog, or get married, or have kids (heaven forbid), or graduate with a Masters, or graduate with six Masters, or run a company, or make people happy, or solve problems, or become successful, or travel the world, or ANYTHING ELSE but glorify the name of Jesus Christ. That is something I (and all of you) can do whether we’re at one school, a different school, or if we dropped out of school together. Although I am still passionate about the degree I was following at Moody (Ministry to Victims of Sexual Exploitation), God is showing me more and more that I am meant to be in a support role. I’m not meant to be on the front lines, like my friend Sara. She could make a brick talk, and make a stone feel love. No, I’m meant to do the administrative work, the pencil pushing, the script writing, the capturing with words, the communicating in such a way that people understand and are called to action.
I do believe God is calling me at this point to pursue degrees in Creative Writing and Non Profit Management. And as much as I love Moody, the people, and the program, I can’t pursue what I need to there. Part of my heart–the part that ventured off into adulthood, took on the big city, and began the journey of college, career, and life–will always remain in Chicago, settled peacefully at 820 N LaSalle St.
Stay in touch, Moody. I will miss you more than you know, but my prayers you will never leave.