Monday, October 10, 2011


It was a harried and anxious woman who flew out of XNA airport on Thursday morning. No fewer than 18 lists filled sticky notes on my MacBook's desktop. With the show happening this week, going away for a weekend was poor timing, but Robb was class president of his college class and a 15 year reunion just seemed like something he ought to attend.  It had been 10 years since we were on campus, but I suspect all the ways we have changed in the last 6 years really made it seem like longer.  We kept trying to find a word to describe how we were feeling about going back, but nervous wasn't quite right.

Some of my readers knew me then. Some of my readers know what it was like to attend a Bible college. It would take a book to fully describe it. I suggest Kevin Roose's Unlikely Disciple (which left me howling in helpless laughter). Ours were even stricter rules than those wild students at Liberty University. Curfew at 10 on school nights, midnight on the weekend. Lights out for freshman at 11:30.  Freshman couldn't go on single dates. I wore a skirt or dress to class, guys wore dress pants and collared shirts. Upperclassman had to wear a jacket and tie.  We attended chapel every day and church on Sunday morning and evening and prayer meetings on Wednesday night. We were required to be active in some form of ministry service and to share our faith for a certain number of hours.  We were required three one credit classes in sharing our faith, in fact, which is money I would really like to have back, please and thank you.  You had to have your room clean by chapel time (10 am) and your bathroom clean by the end of the day. You could not hold your boyfriend's hand on campus or kiss or any other form of public display of affection.  Guys hair had to be short, above the ears, and thy could not wear facial hair. We couldn't attend movies and smoking or alcohol was a clear no-no. Some offenses resulted in fines. Some of the biggies would have meant expulsion.  Most of the rules I kept faithfully.  Several, I broke egregiously.

What I know now, these 15 years later is that the breaking and the keeping of those rules was equally sacred.    The slow, plodding discipline of cleaning the bathroom and the wild free-falls into God's grace, tasting forbidden fruits gave me a gift that not everyone experienced.  I was not the student who couldn't understand the value of the rules and spent their whole time chafing against them and lost the opportunity to focus on anything other than getting out of there.  And equally important, I was not the student who believed that my standing in heaven was bonded to my spotless record in the Office for Student Development.  Knowing that I was a sinner, having the five dollar fine for kissing my boyfriend on campus (or rather, getting caught) kept me from the worst kind of pride...the insufferably self-righteous students (usually girls) who were shooting for perfection and thought they could hit it. (The guys, on the other hand, thought their standing in heaven was bonded to if they believed the right things about the Bible and it's teachings, thus resulting in the nearly constant rounds of theological ping-pong)  I arrived on campus as a freshman one of those girls.  I left as a married student, a true follower of God, with my sense of humor fully intact.

I suspect that going back was odd because Robb wears an earring and a tattoo. He is outwardly branded with a different kind of Christianity than we were taught there.  We are no longer subscribers to our denominational teaching.  No longer "in the fold."  We went beyond what we were taught.  Planted a church that values much different things than we were taught to value.  In short, we break a lot of the rules.

But things change. Even when they stay the same.  The rules at BBC are no longer the same. The students wear jeans to class. They boys have facial hair. The girls are allowed to be security guards. And most of the students don't come from The Denomination anymore. You think, driving on campus, that you will be going back in time. But you aren't.  Kids are standing around with cell phones, and even if the dorm smells the same, now the lounge has an actual television in it. 

I don't exactly know what I'm trying to say with this post, only maybe, that we thought we might be going back to visit as prodigals, and discovered instead, that we were products of our school.  That we felt at home there with people we loved then and still love now.  That without our time on that beautiful old campus...(which used to be a monastery) we would not be who we are now. It was a precious gift to go back, to remember.  To think again on all the ways that God guided us.  It deepened our faith and our confidence in what we are doing with our lives, and why we get up in the morning.  It was good for our souls.  It was sweet to go home.


Heidi said...

Beautiful. This makes me happy.
I often "blame" my changes in theology, etc. on Dennis Wilhite, Ted Boykin and Pilgrimage. Due to their influence I saw for the first time a faith that was real and had legs. Until that time Christianity was something I wore like a uniform. It wasn't something that I was. They started me on the path of asking questions and challenging my faith. I've often wondered if going back to BBC would feel like the prodigal son returning.
After reading this I want so much more to return and take my kids. It is such an important part of my transformation and I want my kids to have the chance to see it.

A said...

Yes, thanks for that walk down some sort of memory lane. I am happy for the two of you getting to experience it, and candidly jealous. I am not sure that a visit there for me will ever be one as joyous or free from fear of running into certain people who may have an issue with me. Maybe someday me and my family will be able to return and experience some measure of what you did.

BURCH(beri church) said...

Your Pictures are GORGEOUS...miss that place. So very blessed to have been a part of the journey. Precious times. And I didn't have a perfect record with OSD... not even close.:-)

Ness said...

giggle...Burchie, if Jim Dandies' was still open, I was totally planning on partaking in some foolishness there....

A, I feel absolute confidence that you and yours would be welcome there with open arms. They all said as much.

And Heidi, so true. I find myself thinking that all this time, we were waiting for BBC to claim us, and maybe what they needed was for us to claim them...

Sara said...

I think that it shows in many ways that the Gospel changes even can change the pharisees

I still haven't come to full peace with my time there..I treasure it in one way. I needed the structure of a curfew and the responsibility of daily cleaning because I had none growing up. I connected well with teachers that "got" that the gospel wasn't following a bunch of rules, but a person that changes how we live life...Those teachers connected well with me because I think they saw that I "got it" too.

I had few friends though, still saw way to much of a popularity contest between the students, and found myself to be very much an 'odd ball' when I thought that going there I would be able to feel more acceptance and freedom. What I got instead was sympathetic looks and other students just not quite sure of what to do or say to me because my past was so very different than the majority there. I think though, from what my husband tells me, I was admired by many from afar.

I broke many, many of the rules, gladly and sometimes with permission from my dorm mom (Yes, my dorm mom was Faye)...rules like going to the movies...and staying out past curfew to get a few "drinks" (I had soda of course lol) with co-workers at a bar. Talk about a

All though I don't doubt that I would be welcomed reminded me too much of High school then, and my heart still has issues with how I was treated by girls at a "Christian school." What I am trying to remember though is that the more a christian really understands that the Gospel is a person that changes the way we live and brings hope, and not a list of rules to follow...the more I hold out hope that the same people that left me hurt will be the same people that will have changed the most.

Thanks for sharing it does make me want to go back in some ways too.

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