I Believe in Getting Dirty, by Abby Henegar

As I type, I am currently waiting out these next few hours before I can enroll in my fall semester classes for my senior year. It is crazy to believe that in just a few weeks, I will be a senior in college. I am graduating early in order to save a few bucks but mainly I am graduating early to have a few years to get my hands dirty. For once in my life, I finally understand what it means to get your hands dirty.

This past spring break I had an amazing opportunity to go to Nashville, Tennessee to learn about social justice and putting faith into action through TCU’s Faith Acts organization.  Over the course of the week, I was able to meet some of the most amazing, God loving people.  I hung on to every word these passionate and inspirational people spoke.  The most important word of advice this diverse group of people gave was: jump right in, be willing to scrub toilets, and don’t be afraid to get dirty.

I’ve never been afraid of a little dirt, but I always had this feeling that the world was telling me that I should be afraid of dirt. Dictionary.com defines dirt as any foul or filthy substance. Our world is terribly afraid of getting dirty and being seen as foul or filth. The term dirty is used to describe the sick, the poor, mentally ill, minorities, and the marginalized.  There is pressure in today’s age to rid ourselves of all our dirt so that we can be perfect, clean individuals.

It took long conversations with God for me to accept and embrace myself getting dirty.  I realized that the desire to be a perfect, clean individual was something that I didn’t want. The desire for perfection came from the world around me.  Perfection is impossible and it takes too much effort to be constantly giving off the impression that I have my life together.  Life is messy and the wasted time and effort spent trying to clean up life can be used for something more important and in line with God’s purpose for my life.   Real, honest life requires getting dirty.  While I have learned some things in the classroom, I have learned so much more about myself, others, God, and the world outside of the classroom, with my hands in the dirt.

I believe in getting dirty.  I prefer it.  It doesn’t line up with what society deems a perfect clean life, however I’d much rather spend my life with my hands in the dirt trying to make sense of the world than have the world tell me how to make sense of myself. Getting dirty, serving others and putting my faith into action is what I want in life.  It is all I’ve ever wanted.

So while I’m still waiting for that class portal to open and for senior year and all that it brings, I’m looking forward to getting dirty the most. Get dirty with me.  Go try something you’ve always wanted to try but were too afraid to go through with.  Go smile at a stranger.  Go call  someone you haven’t talked to in a while.  Go volunteer. Go make disciples. Go for a run.  Go do what your heart tells you.  After all,  the Lord God formed a man from the DIRT of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being [Genesis 2:7].

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GA TIB BOOK Abby HenegarAbby Henegar is a rising senior at Texas Christian University from Centralia, Illinois.  She is a psychology major, sociology minor involved in Disciples on Campus and Faith Acts.  She is very thankful for the amazing opportunities TCU has and will continue to provide for her to live out her faith.

I Believe in the Power of Connectedness, by Dr. Nadia Lahutsky

Because life is hard, I believe in the power of connectedness.  Not connection—suggesting a link between two items or things.  Connectedness, rather, implies multiple connections.  Think of many hubs each with many spokes, each spoke reaching out and making a link to one or more other hubs.

Life is hard.  Don’t let media images of the carefree college student life fool you.  Students today face enormous stresses.  Parents who demand perfection, faculty who seem to increase their work load each day, personal relationships that take more than they return.  And this doesn’t begin to include worry over their own personal stake in the mounting student debt load!

Life is hard.  Take the case of a former student of mine, a young man I’ll call Kyle.  In less than four weeks he went through a lifetime of grief.  He watched his friend and roommate attempt to take his own life; he went back to his hometown for the funeral of a close high school friend; he returned only to endure the death of another friend, this one from campus.  After the first two events, he was in my office to explain his absence from class.  I could offer him a tissue, some schedule relief on an upcoming assignment, and a sympathetic ear.  After he returned to class, I watched as his personal appearance slumped downward and his steps got more plodding.  Two weeks earlier, I would have been more hesitant on this next point than I was, but the time seemed ripe.  I then offered him my prayers and those of others.  I told him that, in fact, I had asked my congregation’s prayers for “my student who is having a hard time.”  This self-described (almost an) atheist nearly swooned in gratitude.  “Thank you.  I need them.”

Life is hard.  I was grateful in this situation for the people at the TCU Counseling Center, capable of doing so much more professionally for Kyle than I could, as well as other staff on campus, many of whom could both be another set of ears and help him maneuver through the bureaucracy in order to get the proper help.

The hubs and spokes are already all around us.  I believe that’s the kind of world God created for us.  Sometimes we’ll be the ones supported in the strong joint created by a spoke and a hub; other times we’ll join with additional hubs and spokes to become the support.

Life is hard.  Don’t let others do it alone.

Life is hard.  Don’t try to do it alone.

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GA TIB BOOK Nadia LahutskyNadia Lahutsky has taught for 34 years in the TCU Religion Department, where she is currently Chair.  A graduate of Hiram College and Vanderbilt University, she is an historian of Christianity, with a special interest in modern Roman Catholicism.  She has been married for nearly 40 years to Edward McMahon, New Testament scholar, and is the proud mother of Jean McMahon, a doctoral student in social psychology.

I Believe in the Power of Gray Skull, by Sharon Fronk

My name is Sharon Fronk, I am a recent graduate from TCU. I received my degree in Biology with a minor in anthropology. I am from Southern California, where I am now living again and I currently have no job. It’s difficult to be positive and outgoing when all those around you seem to have their life together and you don’t. We’ve all been there: a feeling of loss of control or questioning what will come next. It’s easy to get sucked into a pit of despair. Luckily, there are super heroes.

Though I have not encountered He Man and his the power of Gray Skull, I have experienced super heroes. To quote the Disney Pixar movie The Incredibles “everyone can be super”. Qualities admired in super heroes such as kindness, generosity, patience, loyalty, etcetera, can be found in the strangest of places. A stranger at a restaurant mails you your drivers’ license when they discover it on the floor long after you’ve left. Some guy in a youtube video who stops kids bullying their peers at  school can restore our faith in humanity just as Batman defeating the Penguin gives hope to the people of Gotham.

Most of the super heroes we know and love are friends or relatives. They are always there to save us in our time of need, doing something miraculous to lift us up. Our super heroes may not be able to shoot lasers from their eyes or have gone through a metamorphic transformation due to cosmic radiation. Nevertheless they have the ability to travel half way around the world for us.

The world is full of depressing thoughts, actions, and villains. Who will we turn to? I do believe there are super heroes constantly acting in people’s day to day lives. We too can be super, if we so chose. With great power comes great responsibility though, which I think is what stops most people from being super. I will not deny that responsibility is a heavy cross to bear. I will also not sit here and say let someone else take on the responsibility and have him or her be super while you sit and watch. We all have the power of Gray Skull inside of us that we can tap into to make a difference in someone’s life. I believe we can all be the super heroes people need.

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GA TIB Book Sharon FronkMy name is Sharon Fronk, I am  a 21 year old currently living in Huntington Beach California with my loving and atheist boyfriend. I graduated from TCU this past May and will apply for a PhD program this fall in Biology. Both of my parents are pastors and serve at FCC Pomona CA. They have supported me through thick and thin. My parents have helped me create my own faith, allowing me to think and act for myself. They taught me how to be the best person and best follower of The Way that I can be.

I Believe in Presence, by Dr. Don Mills

Independence is a good thing.  Taking care of yourself is what adults do.  Adversity is a challenge best overcome with your innate strength and talents.  Generally that has worked for me throughout my life.  Or so it seemed to me.  When I was recently diagnosed with a serious illness, my attitude was “ok, I can do this.”  I researched, prayed, planned and plunged forward with surgery, radiation and drug therapy.  I did what the science said, missed as little work as possible and decided that this was another battle that I would win using the skills and strengths I have.

The doctors told me this was difficult and that I should consider a support group.  Not me!  This was my battle and I would fight, with my family by my side, and win.  I was in for a surprise – an awakening no doubt but not a rude one!

The physical part of my fight was relatively easy.  There were symptoms and side effects, but basically not too difficult.  But I was unprepared for the emotional journey.   I tried to keep this bottled up.  After all, this was my problem and I would solve it.

I began to get calls and notes from people who had experienced a similar challenge in their lives.  I thought that was so kind and considerate.  Then I began to realize that each time, I felt a little better.  My colleagues at TCU were phenomenal.  Their genuine care buoyed me when I really needed propping up.   It really hit me when I went to radiation.  There I met many people in the same situation as me.  People who I would not normally meet.  Engineers, truck drivers, school teachers, politicians, ranchers.  And we talked.  About our families, our careers, our hopes, our fears.  We laughed.  We cared about each other in very significant ways.  I began to realize that I looked forward to radiation every day.  Not for the treatment.  But for the company of these strangers who had entered my life – and had made it richer and better.

This experience reconfirmed to me what I believe and now know with absolute certainty.  God gives us what we need, when we need it.  The key is to know what we need.  As I reflect on the many years at TCU, I remember again and again that when I needed it, it seemed the right person entered my life, whether student, colleague, mentor or parent. I rediscovered that the delivery vehicle of God’s grace and God’s goodness and God’s compassion is packaged in thousands of different ways.  And in packages I might not have picked if it were up to me.  I know the corollary to this belief as well.  I must be prepared to be the vehicle of God’s grace for someone else who needs it – even if they don’t know it.  That, I believe, is how God works in this complex, noisy and fragile world.

Author: Dr. Don Mills, Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership, Spring 2015

 

Mills, DonDon Mills has spent the last 46 years at TCU.  After 42 years in administration (the last 18 as Vice Chancellor), he left administering for professing in 2011. He is now Distinguished Professor of Higher Education Leadership where he initiated the doctoral program.  He is especially interested in the concepts of community, higher education renewal, and engagement.  Don has a wonderful wife, two terrific children and three beautiful, talented grandchildren.

I Believe in More

Author: Courtney Heier, TCU Student, Fall 2014

I believe in MORE.

I believe in doing more, in giving more, in being more. I was raised in an area where everybody did the same thing—everybody went to college, got a degree, got a job, got married, raised a family, and lived a life “happily ever after.” But I’ve been stuck. What if I can do more? What if that doesn’t seem like my “happily ever after” life? I want to be more. Maybe I’m involved in something every night of the week. Maybe I don’t sit down until 10PM some nights. In all reality, though, I can’t function otherwise. But now, I’m surrounded by people who live up to this dream of “doing more.” And that’s exactly where the distinguishing factor is—that dream. That dream isn’t so much a dream anymore. It’s reality. I have this dream of traveling to a developing country to volunteer in a clinic for children with developmental disabilities. I have this dream of opening my own occupational therapy clinic and operating it for a few years, ultimately working towards a goal of a bakery in the entrance, staffed by the kids who have grown up in the program. Some people will say I’m crazy, they’ll say that it’s just a dream. I won’t accept that. I live a life dedicated to fulfilling one single word’s expectations: agape. Agape: an unchanging love, a love that expects no re-payment, a love so generous that it can be given to the unlovable, a love that gives everything it has to give. So why let dreams be just that—dreams? Why settle with the ordinary? Maybe dreams are trajectories; maybe they’re plans for the future. Who says dreams have to stay in that realm of imaginations and impossibility? If you want to do more, do more. If you want to give more, give more. If you want to be more, be more. The only limitations for your dream are the ones set in your own mind. You’re worth more than being ordinary. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”—Romans 12:2.

I believe in Servitude

Author: Alex Nied, TCU Student, Fall 2014

I believe in servitude.

How do you define a great person? Is it by their education, wealth, power or maybe accomplishments? I believe that in order to be great one must be a servant to others. Martin Luther King Jr. said that everyone can be great because everyone has the ability to serve.

I had the opportunity to work with women in the RISE program this summer. These ladies have 3 or more felony counts of prostitution against them. They chose to enter the program rather than going to prison and are now healing from year’s worth of psychological and physical damage with the help of therapy, group classes and service. I understood my job to be helping them, but it turns out they became my teachers. I was getting the most out of the relationship – not the other way around. These women have lost everything – their families, jobs, privileges, even themselves – and yet they continue to love and serve with their entire beings. MLK also said all you need to serve is a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love. The RISE ladies revealed to me the importance of serving others. They taught me that service is a privilege and if you are able – you must serve. The feeling of helping someone and receiving no fame for that service – is the ultimate reward we will ever attain. The women continually reminded me that when they lost themselves in the service of others that is truly when they found themselves.

I believe that service to others is a privilege and a path to greatness. We don’t have to have everything figured out to serve. There is no college degree or manual for servitude, all we need is a heart full of grace. As the author of 1st Peter says, everyone should use their gifts to serve others in order to administer God’s grace. So ask yourself, what have you done for the service of others lately?