“Ms. Megan, I love you. I love you, even though you are a Christian.”
I can clearly hear those words echoing in my head to this day. A student spoke these words to me well over a year ago. Words that, now, make me chuckle. They make me chuckle because I now have a very real connection and relationship with that very student. Despite (at least in their eyes) the fact that I am a Christian.
My work at Crossnore
Many people who meet me or hear my job title are quick to jump to conclusions about what I and my team do on campus with our students. Some folks have point-blank asked me if I was truly trying to convert students to my faith system. Others have praised me for that very assumption.
My faith is indeed central to my life and work. A big part of living out my faith here on campus is ensuring that all of our students and staff find Crossnore to be a space. A space where we where we can support and love each person for who they are and what they do (or do not) believe. No matter how similar or different it may be from my own beliefs.
Deep relationships and big love
I have learned a lot about the love of God in my work at Crossnore. I have come to the realization that God’s love continues to be much broader than I could imagine. The student who told me they loved me despite my Christian affiliation is one who has oftentimes loudly professed just an opposite system of belief. Yet it is with this student that I have had some of the deepest conversations around love and faith, hope and sorrow.
Sometimes spiritual life programming looks just like you might imagine—a fellowship service or trip to church on Sunday. Other times it is rooted in learning from and with other cultures and faith systems. And yet others, it looks like sitting with a student after a long, hard day simply offering a loving presence. It is in these times that my relationships with students and staff have grown. It is in these times that my own understanding of God’s big, wide, love has grown too.
Leading with love
It is certainly not easy, but in everything I do I strive to offer love and support for our students and our staff. There should certainly be enough love to hold us all no matter what religion we do or do not subscribe to. The love I have experienced here on campus has grounded me in ways unimaginable. It has come as I’ve sat with students who are mad or upset. As I’ve connected with staff who have had hard days, or laughed over lunch with friends around campus. I have learned over and over again that love truly is not bound up in one belief system or background.
Just this week I found myself in a conversation with a student who was having a really hard day. We chatted, and in our conversation she shared with me about a recent worship experience at her host church. As we talked she told me that she just needed that good worship time because she needed to feel God’s love. When I asked her about what that looked like or felt like she said she did not really have the words. She just knew it made her feel like she was not alone, just like she felt as we sat talking.
In that moment I was reminded of a beautiful truth for us all: Love reminds us that we are not alone. There is always enough love for us all. As I continued to talk with this student the room slowly filled with a few other trusted adults who love her dearly too. These adults sensed the heaviness of this conversation and that we both could probably use some support. I looked around, and as we all reminded this student of how resilient she truly is, I was reminded, once again, that there is enough love to hold us all. Always. And that is a truly beautiful thing.