Occasionally, people ask me how actually living at Moody compares to my expectations of living at Moody. This question tends to stump me. You would think that the eight years that elapsed between deciding to attend Moody and actually arriving on this campus would have resulted in at least one or two major expectations. Alas, every time I am faced with that fateful question, I shrug, hem and haw a bit, and then sidestep the whole issue with the conveniently elusive and noncommittal
“Well, I’m not sure if I had any expectations, really.”
Which, as you can probably imagine, is not entirely true. I did have a handful of preconceived notions regarding what it would be like to work, play, eat, sleep as a Moody student. These preconceptions are based almost completely on off-hand comments and remarks made by previous Moody students, and are as follows:
Preconception #1: Sickness passes rapidly amongst human beings living in dormitory settings, and if the girl across the hall seven doors down has a cough, you’re probably going to contract influenza.
Truth: This belief was based on a story my 5th grade AWANA leader (then a Moody student and my idol) related about her entire floor (which, coincidentally, is the same floor I currently live on) being struck with the stomach flu at the same time. I can still picture her recounting this tale nonchalantly as wide-eyed young girls surrounded her, hanging on her every gruesome word. And yes, by nature of the fact that people who live with each other do occasionally breathe the same air, it is true that illnesses can pass from one of us to others. But thus far in my Moody career, I have yet to witness an entire floor wiped out by the same bug at the same time.
Preconception #2: Classes are ridiculously hard and your little brain is going to be working overtime trying to keep track of everything you’re learning.
Truth: I am unsure where I collected this little gem of a foreboding expectation, but I arrived on campus last fall literally ready to suffer brain cramps from the overload of learning that was sure to be heaped upon me. Now, please keep in mind that I am two semesters into an eight-semester-long Moody career. I have yet to experience much. I am a mere padawan. However, I have been most pleasantly surprised with the academics here at Moody. Yes, classes can be hard. Yes, I do occasionally struggle to wrap my mind around this or that concept. But professors are kind, wise, and intelligent. Classes are teaching me invaluable lessons that will help me immensely as I seek to further God’s Kingdom. And the things I am learning, both inside and out of the classroom, are shaping and growing my mind and heart to be more like Christ.
Preconception/ Question #3: Ever since I was quite young, the whole idea of sitting in class has had a huge question mark over it. From a young age, I would occasionally ponder such life changing queries as Will I take notes in a notebook? A three-ring binder? What do college classrooms look like? And they big? Small? Do you wear a backpack in college? Do I have to take my textbooks to class? Wouldn’t that be a lot of books? How do you know where to go for every class? And the notes: taken in pen? Or pencil?
Truth: I suppose these questions were understandable for a homeschooler to be asking, seeing as most of them find their root in the simple fact that I did not experience a public school setting until my senior year of high school. At that point, at the ripe old age of 17, I was enrolled as a part-time student in the tiny Christian school at our church in Mexico. This was an invaluable experience for me in many ways, not the least of which being that it helped me begin to answer the above questions.
Preconception #4: It is socially acceptable to walk around your floor without pants on.
Preconception #5: College is such a growing experience and will be so good for you.
Truth: First, allow me to say that the above sentence can easily be construed to mean anything and is, for the most part highly uninformative. However, it is by far the strongest message I received from people when they found out I was planning on attending THE Moody Bible Institute.
And, as ambiguous as they were, they could not have been more right. I am learning and growing; immensely so. So much that sometimes, Thursday night hits and the spilled makeup on the blue dorm carpet is a painfully accurate picture of how I feel on the inside: poured out, empty, splattered all over. Done.
So much that I’m sitting on the red couch in the lounge, listening to conversation bounce back and forth across the room, echoing slightly off the walls, and my heart kind of hurts because I can physically see how blessed I am. Relationships with my family, with the women on my floor; deep, complex, sometimes challenging. But also filled with joy and fun and patience and grace and love. The love of God that pours out of us, splashing on those around us, soaking all of us in a blanket of His mercy and sovereignty.
Is Moody like I had expected? Maybe a little bit. But it’s also so much harder, so much more fun, so much more challenging, and so much better than I ever expected.