Five Words

Once a year, on a late night at the end of August, these downtown dorms empty, guys filtering into one auditorium, girls streaming into the other. They call it All Hall, and it’s a once-yearly, gender-segregated meeting. Part pastoral, part informational, and one small part comedic, we hear from the Dean of Students, refresh ourselves on the finer points of school dress code, and cheer wildly when our RA is introduced.

Last August, sitting there in the largest auditorium, in the flip-down seats with the thick, red plush cushions, two of the female Residence Life staff spoke. Five words, one of them said, holding one hand in the air, ticking each finger as she said them:

Work. out. your. junk. here.

Because Moody is not perfect, nor are the people in it. Classes are challenging and we sometimes battle to understand, to make sense, of tests and papers and lessons. There are rules and conflicts and fallen people say things that are not true, not fair, not kind; fallen people hurt each other.

But this is a safe place. This is a place where Christ is first, where leaders see things through the lens of grace and love and the faithfulness and sovereignty of Christ. This is a place where professors instruct minds, but they also teach hearts, and their words are wise and kind and gentle. Life is messy outside of school, beyond the six city blocks that delineate Moody’s campus, but it’s also messy inside these brick walls. As long as humans have choice, will, and fallen, broken hearts, life will be messy, confusing, sloppy, but here at school, we’re messy together.

Be messy here. Be confused here. Work out your junk here.

Work it out because we all have it. We’re all confused and unsure, messy and chaotic.

She said that, standing there in front of every girl in the school, and I sat, legs pulled up, arms around my knees, and listened. Skeptical.

Working out issues has as a prerequisite admitting to having issues, and I was rather disinclined to begin such a monumental task. But the wonderful thing about God and His grace and His persistent, faithful, unwavering commitment to His promises, His Word, is that He doesn’t leave His children where they might like to be left- where I wanted to be left- upside down and backwards in questions and uncertainty and stubborn mess that I didn’t even know I had.

He doesn’t leave us where we are, and- even better- He doesn’t make us fight for ourselves, either. He’s working out our junk with us, for us, alongside us.

Saturdays these months are days of homework and quiet, sitting alone in my room, Chicago passing in a snowy lull outside my window while I type, read, work to stay focused, inside. But today, as the night hour clicked later, I sat on my bed, computer on my lap, and a face, then another one, appeared in my doorway. Come in, sit down, what’s up.

And we talked about choices that are hard, but that need to be made. And conviction and grace and the strength to do what is right. And I listened, heard, and I thought of the unsteady, wobbling footsteps of one who is following, unsure yet trusting, confused yet believing, hurting yet holding to Him because what comes next, what comes later, what comes from following Christ, must be better.

And I realized- just like she said on that late night in August- we’re messy and real and so very complicated, but we’re working out our junk. And we’re doing it here in this wonderful, complicated, safe, complex place called Moody. And God is helping and God is working and God is healing.

And honestly, I think He’s happy, too.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Mindy Pavelski
    Feb 09, 2014 @ 06:12:32

    Very thoughtful post, Nat. I love reading your blog! Thanks for sharing!


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