Day 7: Designed for Community
In June 2014, Dr. Susan Ryan and I took a group of Point students on a tour of Europe. A few months before our departure, once the final roster of travelers was settled, I remember realizing that many of the students going on the trip didn’t know each other – or us! – very well. Knowing that the bonds of friendship are often created through intensive experiences, such as travel, I suspected it would be interesting to see how relationships were built and deepened during the course of our ten-day trip.
Sure enough, by the time we returned from surviving a European heat wave in London, Paris, Florence and Rome, relationships had certainly been built. After just ten days, students who didn’t previously know each other at all had become close friends – and I felt that I knew these students better than some I’d taught for an entire 16-week semester.
Even in a relatively small college community, like Point’s, it’s all too easy to “silo” ourselves – to never venture outside of our little groups. Maybe we’re guilty of only hanging out with the people on our sports teams, or maybe we only spend time with those in our academic majors. Or maybe we’ve decided we’re too smart for that group, or too spiritual for this group. As adult students, maybe we never venture outside of our own cohorts or campuses to get to know the other students we encounter. As employees, we might be too prone to only build relationships with those in our own departments or offices. Worse yet, sometimes we isolate ourselves to the point that we completely lose sight of the value of this community in which God has placed us, resulting in feelings of loneliness or not fitting in.
But Scripture is clear that we were designed for community. Psalm 133 says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (NIV) Our theme for this semester – Many Parts, One Body – echoes that concept. This is why the college experience is so valuable – and for traditional students, why your residential campus experience is so important. God intends for us to “live together in unity” with those who may not be exactly like us. When we do risk going outside of our comfort zones, we may find better and more profound friendships and Christian community than we ever expected.
In a few weeks, I’ll be embarking on another study abroad trip with traditional students. My prayer for that group is for relationships to be built and deepened among the students and faculty traveling together. But I hope you’ll also join with me in praying today for the entire Point community to build relationships with one another – to live together in unity.
Pray that each student and employee at Point will be emboldened to seek out relationships with others and find his or her place in the Point community.
Sarah Huxford-Assistant Professor of Communications
Editor, Point Magazine