“And let us consider how we may spur one another together on toward love and good deeds. ” Hebrews 10:24
“This is how we know what love is: that He laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down ours for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16
It’s weird, when you’re young, you are born into a community, without much choice. You have your family, and quickly in school, you meet friends. By the time you can mutter through the alphabet and have memorized your multiplication tables, you are set in your ways. There’s the immediate family and the best buds, and sure, things change over the next ten years, but often, your community stays the same. And that’s how it was for me.
So when college comes, no matter how prepared you are to make the move and flock from the comfort zone of home, you are forced to find new community. To find new family. To find new friends. To find the place that makes you want to wrap up in a warm blanket and fall asleep and never wake up because never, ever, have you been in a better place, with better people.
For some reason, it took me awhile to find my home in Chapel Hill. Which seems so unlikely and scary. I was raised in the church. I spent countless hours at my church on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s and all the time in between. So when I left for college, there was no question that I would look for a new church home, but it didn’t happen right away. And that was God’s will.
I thought I could do it myself. Don’t call it millennial or transcendentalist, call it what it is: pride. I wrestled and yanked. I had questions and needed answers, and didn’t always get them. I thought I was smarter and bigger than the church, in a lot of ways. I had a hole and wanted it to be fixed, but without having to put in any effort. I had pain. A little bit of a self-esteem issue, a lot of sorrow about losing my granddady, a critical heart that always reached for the speck in another’s eyes, before looking at my own.
And those days of freshman year and into sophomore year of questioning and growth without community are what have made my home at Chapel Hill Bible Church even sweeter. It’s what I needed, in some ways. To go on my own and find myself in a lot of ways and then be welcomed by the Body of Christ. And in this case, a new Body of Christ. One with dozens of people my age, who all fight the same things I do, and one with great leaders and role models of faith. It’s not that my home church didn’t have those things, because they did. It’s just that distance makes the heart go fonder, as they say. And after a year of trying to walk with the Lord by myself, home at the Bible Church was like nothing I had ever felt. In many ways, it’s been the biggest blessing of my time in Chapel Hill.
It’s not always words from peers or swing dancing on the beach. It’s not even their smiles or their hugs.
It’s just that once more I’m surrounded by people who seek God everyday — every minute— and they love me for who I am.
And I promise you, I could sleep in that warm blanket forever and ever.