Over the last few months, I have been grasping at every grain of meaning and memory from these five years in Olson Hall. I am terrified of forgetting any detail of this sweet yet demanding season. It’s hard to leave my home, my work and my people in a landslide of change — I want to remember everything. But still some memories remain blurry and the inevitable end is barreling towards me. No matter what, there are a few things that will always be written in bold.
1. Both trees bloom.
At the end of Masters of Arts in Higher Education (MAHE), I found myself applying for the hall director opening in Olson. If I’m totally honest, I don’t know if I wanted the job when I applied. To my surprise, I got it, and then faced an even bigger challenge of deciding whether or not to take it. In the midst of my decision process I had another offer on the table, one that was closer to home and appealed to my comfort zone. I agonized over the decision. I struggled to overcome the lie that I must have tricked Taylor into hiring me — that I was an imposter. I begged the Lord to show me the right next step. Instead, as I walked barefoot down the driveway, he stopped me in my tracks. My gaze pointed directly at two strikingly different trees and he reminded me that “Both trees bloom.” At that moment, I trusted that “right” was much broader than picking correctly between two choices. It was about believing that both choices could lead to a life of faithfulness and flourishing.
2. You’re allowed to change your mind.
One of the reasons that I work in higher education is because I’m not working as a high school chemistry teacher. This might be obvious, but it’s also completely true. If I hadn’t changed my mind about chemistry and classroom teaching, I never would have followed this dream. I believe that changing our minds is one of the greatest indicators of growing up. I’ve walked with students through decisions about family, school, jobs, leadership positions, relationships and roommate drama, where all they needed was the permission to re-think and find the freedom of a new way.
3. The Lord won’t let you miss something you’re not supposed to miss.
I truly don’t think that I could have done this work without Jesus. Especially on the nights when I get in bed anxious about all the souls under this roof, it’s impossible to relax before remembering that He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. There was one night a few years ago when I got a call from a student at 2 a.m. The night unfolded as late night calls often do. We went to the hospital and the student got the help that she needed. I’ll never forget that the reason she had my phone number was from a prank we had been playing on each other. In moments like that one, I know that the Lord’s plans were at work far ahead of my sleepy voice answering the phone and I trust that I won’t miss anything important.
4. You are responsible for your own thoughts, words and actions. Other people are responsible for their thoughts, words and actions. You don’t know what you don’t know. You can’t help people unless they let you.
Sometimes we set our boundaries, and sometimes we trip over them. One of the hardest parts about being a hall director has been the blessing and the burden of the integration of work and life. The more often that we can remember we are responsible to people, not for them, the more whole we remain.
5. You’re never the end of the line.
One of my favorite things to say to Personnel Assistants (and really anyone) is that they always have someone that they can call. They never have to be the ultimate problem-solver, provider or decision-maker. The best gift that we can give to one another is companionship. You’re not alone.
6. Dreams do come true.
When I walked up to the table to pick up my room key on move-in day my freshman year at Gordon, I met my hall director. I was instantly curious about her job, her life and how she got there. At that moment, the seed was planted for the dream that I am living today. Now, 11 years later, I am moving towards a new dream that the Lord has planted in me, because this one has grown to maturity. Being a hall director has created life in me that I could never have found anywhere else. Blooming at Taylor for these last five years in Olson has been bright and beautiful and broken, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. A life lived in Olson is a life worth a lot.