The world around me, quickly caving in. The path is fragile and paper-thin. I must let go of my need to control. Lord, please rescue me from this sinkhole. Facedown, I remember the skies above. Shining like gold, God’s radiant love. I … Continue reading
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” And when I was in middle school, my life revolved around comparison. I can remember times when I would walk in to my dance studio, stare at the mirror and … Continue reading
An acacia tree greets the African sunrise. Shades of scarlet and tangerine fill the sky. What was once in darkness is now in the light. Here comes a lion, Father. It didn’t take all but two seconds for tears to touch the sides … Continue reading
Wiping the sweat across my forehead, I anxiously swayed back and forth in front of a Southern-style brick house. It was my first day of sorority recruitment at the University of Alabama, and I felt overwhelmed not knowing a single person. Standing shoulder to shoulder with 50 other college girls was unbearable, especially in direct sunlight. Sweaty. Sticky. Moist. Perspiring. Just when I thought I couldn’t stand the heat any longer, a burst of wind blew across my face. The double doors in front of us swung open, revealing more than 300 polished sorority women bouncing their heads, chanting and clapping.
Hundreds of smiling faces greeted me as I was escorted inside their home. The interior was elegant, with antique décor. And the air conditioning was on full blast. As I sat down on the velvet sofa by the window, I glanced across the room and thought to myself that in a house filled with sorority women, this could be a place I might call my home away from home.
As an out-of-state freshman 10 hours away from the comfort of my family in Florida, I desperately desired to form friendships and be a part of a community. And after joining the Gamma Phi Beta sorority a few days after recruitment, I knew I had found a group of people whom I could not only call my friends, but my sisters as well.
Gamma Phi Beta was a valuable resource for me to experience a particular kind of community. During my freshman year, it seemed like I did everything with my sisters: cheering on the Crimson Tide at football games, going on shopping trips, walking around the campus, studying in the library, or traveling to Birmingham on weekends.
However, something was missing. I had yet to immerse myself in a different type of community: a biblical community. And no matter where you are in life—a college student, a stay-at-home parent, a working adult or a retiree—such a community is beneficial.
Cru staff member Bret Ogburn says biblical community is a “deep and intimate fellowship that is God’s plan for your life.” He believes these people will be the ones to help us remember who we really are.
“Freedom is found in Christ and experienced in the body, the community of believers; and it’s important to connect yourself with other believers,” Bret says. “You cannot grow into maturity by yourself.”
It wasn’t until the spring of my sophomore year that I experienced this deep and intimate fellowship with others through Cru’s campus ministry at Alabama. Surrounding myself with a community of believers, I created personal relationships, gained a deeper understanding of the Christian faith and learned how to talk to others about my faith. These people asked meaningful, sometimes tough questions about my hurts, hopes and failures. Through these conversations, I realized I had become tangled in my own pride and resentment, blaming faults on others without recognizing the depth of my own weaknesses.
One of these relationships was with Katrina Sharpe. Katrina helped me through my joys and my pains by praying for me and offering me words of biblical truth. She became a catalyst in deepening my faith and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, and is someone I can be vulnerable with and trust with my struggles, fears, worries and regrets.
If I hadn’t found this intimacy with other believers such as Katrina, I would have felt alone and isolated. Katrina stayed in constant communication with me through Bible studies, coffee runs, morning jogs and church throughout the week. Bret says, “Alone and isolated Christians present themselves as easy prey to the schemes of the enemy.”
Within a biblical community, there is also a possibility of experiencing hurt from those I was closest to. Disappointment and betrayal could result. I realized biblical communities are not perfect, and that they are made up of imperfect people. Bret says, “It pleases God for us to live in fellowship with other Christ-followers.” But he goes on to say, “We are hurt the most by those we are closest to.”
Noted author C.S. Lewis wrote, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.”
There is also the possibility of experiencing hurt from those apart from my biblical community. It is then that I need people like Katrina for comfort and words of wisdom.
“It is in community that the wounds of your heart and of your past will find the deep healing that it needs,” Bret says, “It’s through intimacy with others that Jesus’ hand and heart heal our bodies, souls and spirits. In other words, we need each other when we get hurt. No one understands that better than Jesus Christ, who was wounded by us for our sake.”
More than a year has passed since I graduated from college and started a new chapter in my life. Since then, I have experienced a biblical community close to home, as well as remained in close contact with the friends I made as a part of ’Bama Cru, including Katrina.
I have continued to immerse myself in intimate friendships that strengthen my daily walk with God.
Greasy hair. Trails of tissues in the trashcan. Nostrils rock-solid. Uncontrollable sneezing. Eyes adjust, stinging. A chorus of coughs leads me to the kitchen. Mr. Bear greets me as I reach into the cabinet and squeeze his magical formula into my … Continue reading
Experiencing and Expressing Forgiveness Click. The startling sound of the tarnished doorknob twisted in its locked position like a cannon commencing a war. The moment my date locked his bedroom door, I convinced myself it was too late for me … Continue reading
Day 1: Smallville Reaching the peak of the hilly two-lane road, my brother and I immediately recognized the cherry barn, silver silo and butterscotch yellow farmhouse in the distance. As if seeing Cinderella’s Castle for the first time, I squealed … Continue reading
It’s close to miiiiiidnight and something happened right there on the floor Under the mooOOOooonlight the dance came on that almost no one knew Except for meeeeee so the dance floor was cleared so I could shake it. All eyes on meeeeeeeee as people … Continue reading
A growing trend reveals that college freshmen aren’t just preparing a goodbye speech to their families, but to their faith as well. Conor Friedersdorf writes in The Atlantic, “[Freshmen] leave their church, the community incentives to attend it, and the watchful … Continue reading
Staring at his smartphone, Joshua clicks the Kolo Africa app and waits in anticipation for the video to fully load. From an outsider’s perspective, it could appear Joshua is showing a mere YouTube video to a group of Fulani herdsmen. … Continue reading