Closer in 24-hours than your friends of 24 years

I have been involved with a Christian ministry on campus for the past three and a half years. This past semester though, I have drawn back from my commitment. I was turned off by the problems in the organization and with communication and by this ever-present feeling that I did not belong. The club was growing and with growth comes pain. It lacked the sense of community it had back when I was a freshman. As a result, I isolated myself and skipped many meetings and most events that it held.

However, there is one event the organization holds, that to miss, would be devastating. It was the Women’s Retreat, which is held every year, the weekend before Thanksgiving break. Before the women’s retreat this weekend, I prayed to God to meet some of the underclassmen that I felt so far away from. I had no clue who any of them were and desire to connect with them. God came through.

It was in a church near the adorable town Skaneateles that the Women’s Retreat is held annually. Three years ago it was in the church that I was able to connect with upperclassmen that I would not normally talk to. It was here that everyone was vulnerable with deep secrets they have never told anyone before. It was here that they felt free from the burdens that held them back. It was here where healing began or continued. It was here that judgement did not exist- only compassion, forgiveness, and love. I spoke to the upperclassmen and looked up to them, but three years later, the roles are reversed.

In my life, I have found that it is only in Christian communities where I feel deeply bonded with people within a mere 24-hours. The only plausible explanation for this instant connection I have with the women is attributed to God. It is only because of Him that I feel such a tangible love like no where else.

From this past weekend, I became close to one freshman girl who always seemed to speak the words that I never say. “I become so attached to people, even when I just meet them. They might think it is weird, but I just love and care for them.” She reminded me of Jesus, of how He cared and loved people. There were no prerequisites for obtaining this love, His love- He just did. You did not have to be faultless or imperfect for Him to love you- He just did. He touched, dined with, and spoke to the fatherless, the outcasts, the widows, the women, the adulterers, the tax collectors- the sinners… He LOVED them.

How grateful I am for the grace and truth that Jesus Christ freely gave. How blessed I am to be loved unconditionally. Oh how I pray to be more loving and passionate.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:7-14

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