and another two years later.

Well, almost. I plugged the dates into a fancy computer thing and it says it’s been 1 year, 8 months, and 28 days. So that’s close enough.

Anyways, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on my time at AC recently. I don’t really know what prompted it, but I’ve been writing this post in my head for months. It might be the newest wave of little UWC babies still finding my blog and reaching out to hear more about life at AC or it might be just where I’m at in college now. Either way, I think it’s time for an update.

For my friends from AC that might stumble upon this, thank you for everything you taught me. Looking back at our time together, I have many memories that make me smile. I became independent, learned how to take care of myself, and learned what I was prioritizing in life.

But if you met me now, I don’t think you would recognize me.

Not physically, two years doesn’t change a person that much 🙂 But if we were to meet again, you would find that the way I view the world and the way I interact with others has shifted. At the core, I am still the same person. But I put up a lot of walls in Wales that I have had to spend a lot of time tearing down.

Because I didn’t let people into my constant daily struggle with pain, they were denied the opportunity to meet me in my vulnerability. Because I hid behind the desire to be liked and appreciated, I was not a good messenger of the Gospel. And because I let my emotions control my actions, I hurt people.

If I could go back, I would do so many things differently. I would have been open about the physical pain I suffered from. I would have treated more people with the kindness that they deserve. I would have been slower to anger and assumed best intent. I don’t have a chance to do things over, but I can use what I’ve learned to move forward.

I wish it could all be excused by saying “we were young, we didn’t know any better!” I think it’s deeper than that. Yes we were young but I think we may have known better.

There are some things that you just know you shouldn’t say. There are times that keeping negative thoughts to yourself are better than using them to hurt a friend. I think I sought out a lot arguments at AC because it was a way to process my anger and hurt from being in pain every second of every day. I still kick myself over some of the things I said to friends at AC and some of the things that were said to me still burn. And sometimes it gets me pretty down.

But you know what makes this all okay? Jesus. If you know me at all, this answer shouldn’t surprise you 🙂 When I think about all the times I sinned and did not act like Jesus at AC, the number becomes really overwhelming. But Jesus took on all of our sins and died for us, whether you know him or not. His grace overcomes my weakness.

I don’t think I have stopped sinning by any means. I still say and do things that are not what Jesus would have me do. But now I understand it and recognize it. I can see it more clearly and have people in my life that can call me out when they see me going down a dangerous road. I’m so thankful for my time at AC for showing me that this needed to change and bringing about a whole new person in college.

For potential/current students at any UWC, I hope you can have a transformative experience too. It’s gonna be hard, but it will shape you in ways you can’t imagine. Take advantage of everything that UWC offers and never turn down an opportunity to be kind to someone. Your future self will thank you. For my co-years/other alumni, I hope that AC and UWC were just the beginning to your incredible life story. And for my friends from UVA and beyond, thank you for loving me well so that I can reflect on two really hard years of my life with a sense of peace.

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*side note – many of you will know by now, but I know there are still many people who find my blog that don’t know me personally so I just want to clarify. I have a chronic pain disorder called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) that started before I went to AC and flared up really bad during my second year there. The pain of CRPS is higher than childbirth and amputation without anesthesia. For my last six months at AC, that was around the pain level I experienced every day without a break. And this (obviously) shaped a lot of my experience there. Though I was not open about this struggle while I was in school, I am much more open now and am here to answer any questions about what life at AC is was as a disabled student or just general questions about chronic pain/CRPS.

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