University of Alabama

University of Alabama

Friday, January 30, 2015

(NOT) a New Year's Resolution

Let me be the first to say that I hate, seriously hate, New Year's resolutions. I think they're dumb. Let's be real here, how many of y'all who pledged to go to the gym every day starting thirty days ago are still going? (If you are still going, kudos, keep up the good work.) I'm not saying that I hate resolutions, but I hate the idea of "new year, new me." I think that there if there is something in your life you want to change, why wait until a new year rolls around? You want to stop smoking, but it's only December 17? Don't say, "Nah, I'll wait two more weeks." NO! You say, "Smoking is bad for me and I want to stop right now." You want to get in better shape? Wait until all of the gym memberships are discounted and the gym is packed in January. NOT! Go to the gym and eat healthier starting today. You want to be a nicer person and treat others better? Well, just keep being a grump until that ball drops and then you have to be nice. FALSE! Starting giving out compliments and treating others with more friendliness starting ahora (right now). You want to be closer to the Lord? Well go out and buy a daily devotional book, but don't even think about looking at it until the little date on the first page matches the one on your calendar. BAD! Open up your Bible right now and get to know your Savior! Yes, I know the cynical award goes to me, I get it. But seriously, if you are sticking to your New Year's resolution, good for you! For real. And if there's something you want to change about the way you're living, it's not too late to start.

However, with all this said, I have a resolution. It's something the Lord has really been pressing on my heart in various ways the past couple of weeks. Today, I was jamming to my praise playlist while I studied. The song that was playing was shouting, "Where the spirit of the Lord is there is FREEDOM." That comes from 2 Corinthians 3:17. I couldn't get it out of my head. I went through the scriptures and found verse after verse declaring that our old self has past away and we are made new in Christ, that we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness, that whomever the son sets free is FREE INDEED. Okay, that sounds great, but what does that mean? If you're anything like me, I tend to have a "younger son" mentality (look up the prodigal son parable in Luke 15). I feel like I'm a pretty good person and that I do things that are considered "right" and so I tend to forget what all being "a slave to Christ" means. What God has been telling me recently in so many ways is being a slave to Christ means that I have to love. Not just to love, but to love like He does: selflessly and full of grace. I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day about a situation in which I had gotten a little sassy with someone I have a slightly strained relationship with. My mom's response was that I need to kill her with kindness next time. But she clarified that my kindness killing doesn't come from a place of spite, but a place of love. "We love because Christ loved us first." (1 John 4:19) What I forget about Christ's love is that because of my sin, God couldn't look at me. He can't even stand to see my sin. But His love and grace is so overwhelming that He sacrificed His son in my place so that He could look upon me and welcome me into his home and become his precious child, bride, and heir. The other night, I heard a sermon from James 2. The one thing that really struck me was inspired by verses 12 and 13: how well I treat others is a reflection of how well I understand God's grace. The way that I have been loved by Christ (unconditionally, relentlessly, everlasting, unchanging) has to change the way I love others. If not, I am not understanding the way the Christ has loved and continues to love me.

So that's my resolution. To love more and to love well and to love genuinely. But how can I do this? The answer is that I need to better understand Christ's love for me. And how do I do that? I need to seek him daily and continually. As I continue to seek after the Lord, I will learn more about who He is and, with that, who I am in Him. I've been made in the imago Dei, the image of God. I was created to reflect all that He is. And my God IS LOVE. I don't get to pick and choose from which of God's characteristics I want to reflect, but am called to reflect all of them. And the one that I all too quickly tend to scratch off the list is to love. My prayer is that the Spirit would fill me with a desire and a passion to seek after Christ and to absorb His word. With that, I continue to pray that God will continue to shape me and mold me like Him and that as I learn more about Him I will become a reflection of who He is. I resolve to start with love.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever... Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)

they're just letters.

Some time ago I stumbled across an article someone posted on Facebook. It was entitled, "7 Reasons Why Dating a Sorority Girl is Better: A Guy's Perspective." Let me first say, I am no stranger to Greek life. Although I am not Greek, I go to the University of Alabama which is known to have the largest Greek organization in the nation and am constantly surround by members of both fraternities and sororities. I have friends that are both Greek and non-Greek, and I often hang out at fraternity houses on weekends. With all this said, I have nothing against the Greek system at all. I think it's a great organization that has a lot of benefits, and if I could afford it, I'd probably consider rushing. However, what I do have a problem with is the superiority complex that seems to surround a lot of members of the Greek organization. That is NOT me saying that everyone who is Greek is like that at all, but I have definitely encountered a significant portion of people, both boys and girls, who react differently to me once they learn that I am not a member of a sorority. I understand that there is a level of sisterhood that I will not experience with members of a sorority because I'm not one of their sisters, but that shouldn't mean that they won't befriend me and vice versa. There has not been one time when I've visited a fraternity house and a guy hasn't asked me what sorority I am in. There's certainly been times where they have said "oh" and walked away. So, naturally when I see an article stating in the title that the male perspective is that Greek girls make for better relationships than non-Greek girls I'm intrigued and curious. Some of the seven reasons could make sense, but some of the other reasons seemed pretty ignorant and just dumb.

1. Every sorority girl is attractive. Okay, so I get that a part of being in a sorority is meeting the physical requirements the sorority sets. And I get that sorority girls are pretty. Trust me, I'm aware. But to imply that girls who are not members of a sorority might not be attractive or as attractive really makes me sad. I think it's so shallow to say "I'm going to date a sorority girl because I know she's hot." No.

2. They have a shoulder to cry on... that isn't yours. I have two issues with this statement. The first is that, no offense to any of you boys out there, whatever girl you're dating has people in her life that aren't you. She has friends, some of which are girls, that she can go to. Not being in a sorority doesn't limit the number of "go-to friends" a girl can have. Secondly, any boy that does not like the fact that his girlfriend feels comfortable going to him with some of her problems and crying, isn't a guy I want to be in a relationship with anyone. Every girl should be in a relationship with a guy who values her feelings and wants her to be vulnerable and open with him, not burdened by it.

3. Every sorority girl at one point has had a Little. Okay, true. I am not in a sorority therefore I will never be a big or have a little. You caught me. BUT, the point was made was that because of her "little having" a sorority girl is more responsible and caring than those of us who don't have Littles. Speaking from experience with a friend of mine in a sorority who has a Big, she hates her Big. Her Big left her initiation early, did the bare minimum for her presents, and has reached out to her less than five times this whole year. So yes, every sorority girl has had a Little, but that doesn't mean she was good at being a Big. And yes, I know this isn't the case for all sorority girls, just as not being responsible isn't the case for non-sorority girls.

4. She likes to have fun... a lot of fun. This is dumb. Not every sorority girl goes out and gets drunk or does crazy things. And I can promise you that non-sorority girls go out too and have their share of fun as well. Fun isn't just a "Greek thing," or restricted just to the party scene. Sorry bout it.

5. She gets it. The article was written by a member of a fraternity, so I can see where he is coming from. Not being a member of a sorority, I don't understand fully all the traditions and customs of swaps, date parties, formals, pledging, et cetera. HOWEVER, I have asked a ton of questions to my friends who are Greek so I can try to understand. If "getting it" isn't happening, it's because there's not enough communication to "get it."

6. She isn’t the, “attached to your hip every second,” type. No. Just no. Being tied to a set of letters or not, girls are not inherently clingy. I promise you that there is nothing that says anywhere that pledging a sorority banishes all clinginess. There is not a universal list of qualities held by all sorority girls that limits her attachment to you. There isn't a list with anything on it. At all. Promise.

7. Sorority girls make the best dates. Huh? I don't get this one. Like for date parties? Formals? Cause let me tell you, I can paint a dang good cooler for your formal weekend if that's what you want. I can put on a silly costume and dance till 2 AM if that's what you want. Again, no one signed anything that guarantees being a good date when they were inducted.

My most favorite part of the article was the author's closing words, "And girls who are reading this who aren't in a sorority and are reading this, I'm sure you're great... just not as great as girls in sororities." When I read this, I was honestly really hurt. The fact that someone I don't know is automatically writing me off because I'm not affiliated with a set of letters really sucks, because the thing is - this one dude isn't the only one who does this. Both guys and girls have looked at me differently, responded differently to me, and treated me differently after learning I'm not a member of a Greek organization. What? Like seriously? I think this is so upsetting. I didn't join a club, and I'm looked at as inferior and less valuable by some people. I think this mentality is so sad, and it's just upsetting.

Okay so I know I probably sound a little cynical and bitter. And maybe I am. But I think there's something to be gained from this. Granted, there are definitely things that girls in sororities are going to do differently or learn that I may not know or learn in the same way. But that doesn't mean that those are limited to one group or another. Being tied to a set of letters, or not, doesn't mean that you automatically fit neatly to a little labeled box or conform to a set of specific qualities. This goes both ways. If I am to say that I don't want to be judged or looked upon a certain way because I don't recognize with a club, I can't look upon those who are in a club in judgmental way either. Unfortunately, even if I start thinking this way, I know all people everywhere won't adopt the same mentality. So girls and boys who are reading this that are in a sorority and fraternity, y'all are probably awesome. And girls and boys who are reading this that don't belong to a fraternity or sorority, y'all are probably awesome too.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

10 Things I Learned My First Semester of College

Well, I seem to have really missed the mark on updating this blog. However, now that I think I have this whole college thing under control (sort of), hopefully I will be more diligent on posting well and often. Speaking of college, I've now officially semi-successfully completed my first semester of college. Which is weird. I'm one-eighth of the way done with my collegiate education. And then I'll be in the real world, with an actual job, and adult responsibility. Something about that seems a little terrifying to me, because this first semester has flown by. It has been amazing and way better than I expected, and I don't want the next seven to come and go so quickly even though graduation seems like an eternity away. I wanted to take time to reflect on this first semester, and what I've learned in and out of the classrooms. So, without further ado, these are the ten things I learned my first semester of college.

1) Don't be afraid to put yourself out there if it means making friends.  It's your first week of classes and you walk into a lecture of 100, 200 or maybe even 300 or more students. If you're like me and at an out of state school, your odds of knowing anyone are basically zero. So you find a free seat somewhere and nervously look around to see all these strangers you're spending three hours with a week for the next four months. And guess what? They're doing the same thing. If you don't know someone, then (surprise) they don't know you either. The best thing about new classes is that 99% of people are in the same boat as you. Don't be afraid to ask someone's name, hometown, and major over and over again. If you're lucky like I was, some of these awkward first encounters can turn into some pretty awesome friendships.

2) You actually do have to pay attention in class and study in your college classes. Confession: I was that kid in high school. You know, the one that doesn't take notes in class or even pay attention, doesn't open a book to study for hardly anything, takes math tests in pen, et cetera... but still pulls out a high GPA and squeezes their way into the top percent of your graduating class. So imagine my surprise when I take an astronomy class first semester (assuming it'll be a pretty easy science class for someone who literally hates and is terrible at science), go to class every Tuesday-Thursday, sorta pay attention and maybe jot down a few notes, complete the homework, but don't study for our first test expecting to get an A or at least a high B, and come out with a 70 on the first of four tests for the semester. Yep, that's right. Seventy:  seven-zero. But the teacher assures us that he expected us to do poorly on the first test so I continue the same method expecting different results - yes, I know this is commonly referred to as insanity. Second test rolls around and guess what? I got a 60... oops. My next test was even lower than that but I did try to study.  However, I wonder what would've happened if I had worked as diligently during the whole semester as I did during finals week. College is a whole different animal than high school. If high school is a bear, then college is like that angry pack of wolves from The Grey, so channel your inner Liam Neeson and get ready to kick some butt, even if that means having to go to the library instead of dinner with all your friends.

3) However, it is okay to have fun and hang out or go out with friends on the weekends, and maybe even during the week. Don't let yourself be one of those people that studies and take notes 24/7. College is of course, first and foremost about your education and getting a degree. But after that, there's so much more. College is also a huge social experience. Work hard during the week and be aware of any upcoming deadlines and due dates you have, but don't skimp on unwinding on the weekend or even on a weeknight. It's okay to see a band until 2 o'clock in the morning on Friday night or go to the football game and tailgate on Saturday or stay up late watching movies with your friends on a Wednesday, as long as it doesn't effect your class schedule or ability to function when day time rolls back around.

4) BUT, don't let whatever your plans are for Friday and Saturday night effect your plans on Sunday morning. My faith should always come first. If I go with my friends to a band after a late night football game and a full day of tailgating, and they suggest Waffle House or Quick Grille at 3 or  4 AM and I have to be up for service in less than six hours, I have to know that it's okay to call it quits and leave the gang early. If what I'm doing on the weekends affects the plans I have for small group, college ministry, church in the morning, or my quiet time alone with the Lord, I need to reevaluate. God should be your first priority and that may mean having to sacrifice in other areas.

5) Get involved in a church ASAP. I cannot stress this enough. I was blessed enough to grow up in a great church and to be surrounded by amazing fellowship, and I knew I wouldn't have that here without trying. But God is so faithful, and provided me with a church home right away. And, just because He is so good, He gave me another college ministry to get involved in too. And I know that I was lucky in finding this. I also know that God doesn't lead His people away from Him. Wherever you are at school or in life, there is something somewhere for you to grow spiritually. Without my new church families, I don't know what my life would be like right now because they have challenged me, pushed me, and helped me grow in ways I didn't expect and that has been so essential to my success in this new season of life.

6) It's okay to take a couple nights off. I mean this in more way than one. I learned that it's okay to not have to have something to do every night when it comes to youth groups. I have small group on Tuesdays, the Well with Calvary on Wednesdays, and Ecclesia with Capstone on Thursdays, plus service Sunday morning. So making the decision to not do another small group on Mondays was a decision I had to make so that I could have night where I can just relax and have open for other things that don't require as much as a commitment. Taking a night off might also mean that you skip the band party everyone is going to at Phi Sig or Chi Phi or wherever because you've had a long week and really just need some alone time. It's okay. There's always going to be another party or another movie night or another dinner or another whatever else you're scared of missing even though you totally should stay in.

7) Even though you think you're on your own now, don't be afraid to call your parents, and take their advice. I moved to school six hours away from home so my time spent at home (and with my parents) is few and far between. I have loved the new found independence and responsibility, don't get me wrong... BUT, there are things that even nineteen year old me doesn't know. Big shock there, I know. Whether it's been roommate drama, troubles dealing with a teacher, having no clue how to lease an apartment, needing to cry about being overwhelmed, or just to brag about how awesome college is and how you never want to do anything else (even though you secretly do miss mom's hugs and dad's teasing), my parents have always been just a phone call away whenever I need it. If it's a less than five minute conversation while I walk across the quad or an extended discussion spanning almost an hour, your parents and the time you spend talking to them is invaluable and something that not only they, but also you, will cherish.

8) There are tons of fish in the sea. I am on a campus with roughly 35,000 people, and past that there are almost seven billion people in the world. Keeping that in mind, not every person you talk to will want to be friends with you even if you didn't do anything wrong or awkward. Further, not every person of the opposite sex will be interested in you either, despite your interest in them. But good news, one person isn't the rule, but the exception. So the boy you met in the dining hall that didn't ask for your number or the girls you tried to befriend in you biology lecture who didn't ask you to be in their lab group are not the end all be all. There are tons of fish in the sea, so if one doesn't bite, just rebait and be patient.

9) You're going to mess things up. You do not know everything. You are going to eat way to much pizza your first semester of college and not go to the gym everyday.  You are going to stay out way to late and almost miss (or completely miss) your first class. You are going to say the wrong answer in class in front of 30 people or 300. You are going to forget to go to your class on Friday because for whatever reason you thought it was just a Monday-Wednesday class. You are going to forget the formula for your calculus test and blank on a few answers once or twice. You are going to lose your student ID at a party or park in the wrong section and get a ticket. You are going to mess things up, because you don't know everything.

10) But that's okay.  Despite all the mistakes you make your first semester of college, and the inevitable mistakes you will continue to make during the rest of your college experience and in the many years to come, it's okay. It's okay because you don't know everything and sometimes in order to learn you're going to do it the hard way. College is one of those great places where you can make mistakes and move on and figure it out one day at a time. College is about growing up, learning who you are, and becoming who you want to be. That's not going to happen without making a few mistakes on the way. So know that it's going to be okay and it's not going to last forever.

Monday, September 1, 2014


They say college is the best four years of your life. As a freshman at the University of Alabama, I'm curious to see if this catchphrase is true. What will make it so special? Is it the parties? Or the new people? Or the job opportunities? Or the education? Or something else? Or maybe they won't be the best four years of my life at all. I don't have even the slightest clue about what the next four years of my life has in store for me. I'm excited to find out, but I'm also terrified. The other thing that "they" say is that the next four years determine the rest of your life. What will my four determine? Before I left for college my small group leaders told my group that half a third of us would drink our ways through college. Will my four determine that I am an alcoholic partier? They also said that over half of us would stop regularly attending church. Will my four determine that my faith isn't as strong as I thought? My mom discovered that my chosen major was one of the least promising majors for success. Will my four determine a faulty career path and false hopes? Statistics (however inaccurate) show that 28% of people met their spouse in college. Will my four determine that I actually major in MRS and fulfill the southern "ring by spring" cliche? What will my four years prove? I have four years. Four years under the microscope. Four years to be just another stereotype or to prove everybody wrong. Four years to meet my parent's expectations or to crash and burn. Four years to set the course for the rest of my life. Four years of pressure. Four years of failures and triumphs. Four years of laughter and tears. Four years of heart break and heart aches. Four years of change. I have four years. Will they end up being the best four years of my life, or will they merely be the beginning?