First-Year Student Reflections
Friday, September 9, 2016
What is the first thought that comes to mind when the word "uncharted" is mentioned to you? Is it the thought of a hair-raising adventure alongside hearty companions, or does the chill of shadowy uncertainty shoot down into your toes? Maybe it's the idea of finding some new treasure or raw freedom that has always made me smile when I hear something described as uncharted. What possibilities could be just around the bend waiting for us to discover?! So when I found out the theme of JBU orientation was "uncharted", I was excited for what the coming five days would hold. And so the adventure began. To be frank, it was overwhelming to have all of my luggage swooped up by a swarm of volunteers into our rather unfamiliar, new living arrangements. Next after unloading a myriad of personal items, my roommate and I were whisked away to dinner and group activities with the rest of our slightly disoriented dorm mates. The days following our introduction were filled with new faces, wild games, and a strong sense of hesitation due to being thrown into the roiling mix of enrolled freshmen. Have you ever stood beneath a waterfall? That was what the first days felt like: a pressing sensation on every faculty I possessed mixed with the delicious novelty of unknown beauty. After all, who can deny that John Brown is absolutely visually stunning? A perpetual Zion nestled away by gentle wind and swaying trees. Every morning, I would wake up to see the soft tones of pink and dazzling strokes of lemon dance on dew and leaves alike, and, in those sweet moments, I saw God weaving another work of art for us to enjoy. But back to orientation. After the opening act, the days consisted of informational seminars filled to the brim with tips on surviving at our new home. One of my favorite aspects were the O-groups, a combination of freshmen paired with two upperclassmen. I was paired with an especially great group, if you don't mind me saying so, consisting of a wide array of personalities. When I look back, we also spent a fair portion of Orientation in the chapel listening to the sage words of faculty and the moving worship of our band leaders. The closing days of orientation were colored by a large service project called Serve Siloam, which allows us a chance to aid others in need of a helping hand. Mixed with a few group activities, the whole of my orientation closed on a high note.
Admittedly, this was a time where I was extremely uncomfortable. I'm naturally introverted to begin with, so the concept of making new friends far from home was difficult to accept. Mixing in classes, and having to leave my family for this new lifestyle cemented my fears coming to orientation. I was entering the uncharted; braving gales, dark waters, and new circumstances without the comfort of certainty. Times like these make me think of the Greek hero Odysseus, cast into the unknown after trying to return to his wife from the Trojan War. This was a man who faced overwhelming odds and terrifying obstacles, making it understandable if he decided to give up. Yet, through it all, he was able to endure it by clinging to love in the midst of chaos. This was the lesson I learned from orientation: coming into uncharted territory allows us to drink deeper from what is true, good, and beautiful. Everything of value is refined in order to bring forth its hidden worth, and, when you think about it, no one can spell painting without pain. Each of us are given the choice to undergo hints of tempering, but the finished product shines with untold brilliance. One of my favorite pieces of scripture is Philippians 2:14-16, which says, "Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain." (NKJV) So what happens next? Where will the wind take me? I'm not totally sure, but my eyes are ever fixed on God and the vast horizon ahead; waiting for another part of the story to begin.