My wonderful housemate Lydia described beautifully our house this semester. She describes our house much better than I ever could. I am thankful for the journey our has has been through this semester, and I’m thankful I will get one more with these amazing girls.
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
– Proverbs 27:17
This year has been an unpredicted blessing.
I live with 6 other girls, totaling 7, in a house that seems to be a never-ending rectangle. It’s unattractive from the outside and many times humorous when you’re inside because of the awkward outlets and random space; but the treasures that live within in it could never be exchanged.
God knew their hearts, and He knew how much I needed them.
Words will never be able to express all that they have taught me and continue to teach me every single day. I have stepped into a house full of life, full of love, and full of friends that speak truth and compassion to each other every open opportunity. Every chance they have to build one another up, they take it.
What I also love… they aren’t afraid to feel. They aren’t afraid to let their guards down around each other, and if they are having a bad day they are unafraid to confront it. They are real. They are honest. They have taught me to live, to be vulnerable, to seek, to search, to enter into grace, to be patient, and most importantly they have taught me about Jesus and why He gave us friends to help us through the victories and pains of this life.
They have sharpened me.
I pray that each and every one of you will encounter friends that I have been blessed to gain. A friend that calls you out when they know that you were made for more, a friend that laughs with you through life’s hilarious encounters, and cries with you through the trenches. A friend that listens – that plays with your hair as you speak out words that are scattered and don’t make sense. A friend that lets you ask questions and doesn’t always have to give you the answers. A friend that always points you back to Jesus, even when you thought the distance seemed too far.
I pray that each of you will have a friend like these friends.
We all need them.
Now, I must share a brief story about tonight. Tonight is the night before Finals Week, a week when heads are spinning and delirious mindsets seem to override all sanity. Our house wanted to have one more dinner all together to celebrate the end of the year, and our first semester with each other. We wanted to be together one last time before Christmas break came and one of our dear sisters and housemates moved to Chicago for the following semester. As we were sitting around El Rancho (a delicious Mexican restaurant around here) we decided to go around and say one word that we thought described each person. Cheesy? Maybe. Necessary? Always. After we went around we “up-ed” the encouragement factor and went around again to state what we have learned from each person this semester.
Speechless. The table felt like a golden banquet. Kind word after kind word swept across the room and grin upon grin swept across every face. There were laughs, there were tears, and there were accidental noises in between. It was beautiful. It was memorable. It was awesome.
Why is it that affirming others, and receiving those affirmations seems to be so distant, uncomfortable, and foreign to us? We all need to encourage people more. Share with them that one word that could pierce their heart and that one lesson that they never knew they were teaching. What if we made this the norm? Not in a way that cheapened the meaning or made it something that we expected, but something that was just… easy, easy to slip from our lips and easy for our hearts to receive.
This house of unexpected friends has comforted my darkest hours and celebrated my greatest victories. Let us, as one body, be this house to each other.
Tonight was beautiful. Tonight I realized that although the craziness of finals and life seems to be so present, that this is what we are truly going to carry with us through our lives – the people that sharpen us, the relationships that hold us, and the memories that shape us.
I pray that your friends become your iron sharpeners, and I dare you to do what we did around the table tonight. You would be surprised the freedom and life one word and/or lesson learned can bring.
College is not only about the learning in the classroom, but it also encompasses building lasting relationships and memories. I have learned more about myself during these past four years from the people who surround me. My advice for all of you incoming freshman, be prepared to be humbled. Always keep an open mind and heart. It is easy to become annoyed with people who you live with 24/7, but keep in mind the bigger picture. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on the good in people and learn from them.
Words cannot describe my thankfulness for such wonderful housemates and the Hope community.