My sophomore year has begun!!! I am finally back on campus and getting into the rhythm of things! After arriving to to the beautiful (and brand new) Arnett Hall a week early, I participated in the annual Leadership Conference fro all student leaders on campus. I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my Emerson/Arnett Hall Council members and we are planning some exciting things! Once we had all moved in to our rooms, our next project was to plan and prepare for new student check in and orientation which was only three days away. Too say the least, it was a highly stressful and exhausting few days! Thankfully new student check in went remarkably well in both Emerson and Arnett and I think we were able to create a really positive atmosphere to our new residents. I am really proud of this team and can’t wait to get more work done!
On a personal level, I have had a large burden on my heart since getting back to SPU. After meeting our new residents and those returning, we held our very first Arnett Hall tradition. New students started on the first floor lobby before moving up floor by floor while completing a different group game or activity on each floor. Once they reached the 5th and final floor, all of Arnett’s student leaders were there to congratulate them on working together to get to the top floor. This celebration turned into a dance party where I began to feel burdened. In “dance party” type situations, I am highly uncomfortable. There is so much going on around me and I am beyond overwhelmed. This anxiety hit me harder than expected on the night of tradition and I honestly felt paralyzed by fear. I began to think of all of the other students who may be feeling the same fear in that situation.
From the 5th floor, we returned to the lobby for a sparkling cider toast which was followed by yet another dance party. Eventually I became too uncomfortable to stay where I was and I made the decision to separate myself from the situation and go back to my room and go to bed. Once I was alone, I absolutely lost it. The anxiety was so overpowering and the whole thing felt like a great big trigger of my social struggles in high school. I felt as if I was alone in the crowd and felt the same kind of isolation that was all too real for me in high school. My heart breaks now for even one student who felt that kind of fear or anxiety that night. That experience may have turned an otherwise exciting evening into a highly negative and devastating time. I hurt for the one or more students who may have gotten back to their room and broken down as I did. College is scary enough without an activity that highlights upon many people’s fear. That night, I of course called my pastor-at-heart momma who gave me some incredible advice.
She asked me, “Ali do you remember the story in the Bible about when the shepherd leaves the flock of 99 to go find and secure the 1 lost sheep?”
Through the tears I muffled “yes” and began to understand what she was getting at.
I have been that one lost sheep. I know exactly and completely what it is to feel such an extreme level of discomfort, isolation and fear. In this way, I was hurting right there with the students who felt consumed by fear during the dance party.
It is not okay to leave that one sheep behind. I want to be the shepherd who is dedicated to securing and comforting the lost sheep. As a member of hall council, I have the ability to be a voice for the lost sheep. I have the opportunity to create situations, programs and events where it is easier and more comfortable to keep the otherwise lost sheep in the herd where they can feel included and valued. As student leaders, it is our responsibility to be these shepherds and I am blessed to be in a position with the ability to positively effect lives. I am beyond grateful to take up this cross and lead for those whom I can empathize so deeply with.
Luke 15:4 NIV
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?