Fast forward to college, and I'm on my own in Boston. I didn't have the big weight of my home church dragging me down and I could start anew again. The first place I went to was InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. At first, I only went there to seek a new church to go to on Sundays. I wanted to get connected to one as soon as possible to start growth there. Little did I know that my church would later turn into not a building I went to every Sunday, but a group of students in a Northeastern classroom on Monday nights.
At InterVarsity, I wasn't expected to know anything. They treated everyone like they were new and explained everything to its most basic detail. At first, with all my pride and selfishness, I hated the way they did that. I hated that they treated me like I didn't know anything. But later on as I stuck to the group, I learned more because they started from the beginning. The reason why I grew was because I wasn't expected to know anything and I truly did not know ANYTHING. I was able to rebuild my faith from the ground up and now I am a stronger Christian than I ever was. Now, I understand what this religion, or more so this relationship with Christ, offers and is all about. I have grown more in the past two years than I ever have the first 17 years of my life!
Some key things that I've learned through InterVarsity are:
- The love and healing power of Christ
- The fact that the God that we love and love us is the same one that created this Earth, Adam and Eve, made it rain for 40 days and nights with Noah, led Moses and Egyptians out of Egypt blew my mind.
- The same love that he shows for Adam and Eve from the very beginning is the same love that he shows us every day. It's okay to have dark hidden places in your life. God doesn't condemn you. He simply says, it's okay, and creates a cloth out of animal skin and covers you. (See Genesis 3:21)
- The true meaning of grace through a new lens
- The Prodigal Son tells of a story of a son who takes his father's inheritance before the father even dies (basically telling his father "screw you, I wish you were dead"), and goes off to spend it on partying and girls and everything sinful imaginable. He runs out of money and ends up cleaning up after pigs just to eat what the pigs ate, and decides to go back home to serve as a servant in his father's house instead. When he comes home, his father embraces him and throws a huge party for him because he is finally home.
- Most people would see this story as a way to represent sinners. They don't need to come back home to God filled with guilt because God will always be there to embrace you, ready to throw a huge party for you. What most people always forget is the older brother that's been there all along. He's been working hard for his father all throughout the time the younger brother has been partying. He's been devoted to his father all his life, and he doesn't even get this huge party for himself, ever. But that's the true meaning of grace--you don't need to work hard to get the acceptance from the father. This made Christianity so much more freeing to me. Knowing that I don't need a full cover letter and resume as I walk up to the white gates of Heaven is the true meaning of grace and is the reason for the death of Christ on the cross.
- God's omnipotence and power over all things
- I'm a college student. I don't really know what I want to do with my future. I don't really know what's in store for me after I graduate. I've constantly been battling this out with myself and with God, demanding an answer to a great job that I can love. But the greatest thing of all is that it's not something I need to worry about. God has it all in his hands.
- We had an activity where we were supposed to think about ourselves objectively. We were supposed to think like God and think about what He desires most in us. This is where I realized that what I wanted from God was not a clean cut answer, but a desire to fill him in all of my relationships. It doesn't matter where I end up in the next 5 years because my relationship with all the people around me come first, and I seek to be open about my religion and beliefs no matter what career field I'm in.
They seem like pretty basic things that all Christians would know (even ones that were believers for 19 years), but because I wasn't expected to know anything at IV, I was able to relearn everything. Needless to say, I don't know if I will be returning back to my home church in NY. In all actuality, I don't even think I'll be returning HOME in NY at all! But what I do know is that God will always be growing me in ways that blow my mind no matter where I am. I want to fall deeper in love with Him each and every day and I'm grateful for the growth that He's given to me the past two years. Who would've ever thought that moving away from everything I've known would only lead to more?