Emma, you have $10,000. You have to spend it by tomorrow. What do you buy?
I would buy a trip to Patagonia in Argentina.
What’s in Patagonia?
Just like really awesome mountains and hiking and views and penguins.
Yeah they have penguins.
Are they like cold penguins?
Yeah- it’s the furthest south. You can take a shuttle from the end of Patagonia to Antarctica.
Yeah, I’m just really obsessed with Argentina so I really want to go there, especially to Patagonia.
How did you end up in Agape?
I had a really good experience in my youth group in high school and really strong group of friends and really good community, especially my senior year. I went to college telling everyone that I met that I had led my Christian club at my high school, just hoping that someone would be like, “Oh my gosh! You’re a Christian?! Me too!” Like, really embarrassingly desperate to find other Christians. So, eventually it kind of worked because I met Hannah (Reiman) and she was like “oh, there’s this Bible study we were thinking about going to,” and I was like “YOU LOVE JESUS?! I LOVE JESUS!” and I went to Agape and I remember someone talking to me right away and I remember when I left, I called my mom and said “Mom, I found them! I found my people!”
What drew you into the community?
I think just the community that I saw and the fun that people were having and also the goofiness and sass I saw from certain people was definitely something I resonated with. I think the combination of loving Jesus and being real, authentic, silly people was something that really drew me in and kept me coming back. It was a place to read the Bible and ask hard questions, but also to be silly.
Why are you a Christian?
Sometimes it kind of surprises me that I’m still a Christian because I’ve spent a lot of my college experience being really challenged by my faith and being confused by it and becoming more educated about Christianity and the Bible from viewpoints outside of the church. It’s been really challenging, but I just can’t shake Jesus, so I don’t know- I just feel like any of those times that I get confused or more frustrated, I just have to come back to Jesus and remind myself that the words and actions of Jesus are what drew me to faith in the first place, and I think that they are what draws me back every day.
You said that you couldn’t seem to “shake Jesus”- what would you say draws you to Jesus?
I think Jesus is really weird and funny and also, just the grace and the way that he reaches for the people that no one else is reaching for. So, when I would read the gospels and see Jesus loving children and loving women- women nobody else wanted anything to do with or women that people wanted to throw stones at and kill. The fact that Jesus sees those people and loves those people that the world doesn’t love- that’s what draws me in.
Also, I have “lol” written in my Bible because I think some of the things he says and does are really funny, and silliness just matters to me.
What breaks your heart?
Hmm. A lot of things. I think the thing that breaks my heart most is the way that we will make assumptions about people and never try to understand them. I think I see that in everything that breaks my heart- my heart is broken by mistreatment of people with disabilities and with mistreatment and everything that gets said about immigrants, especially immigrants from Latin America, and any kind of slander in general. I think that’s the root of a lot of problems in the world- people not trying to understand people they view as “the other.” I think that’s something that Jesus is really good at; I think of the woman at the well and the story of the Good Samaritan, which are really good examples of loving the “other,” so that breaks my heart when that’s not what happens.
What has God done for you that you couldn’t do for yourself?
He’s brought me where I am, in terms of being at Loyola. Like, I never thought that I would study Special Education or that working with people with disabilities. That has felt like a direct call from God, and I don’t think I could have figured that out on my own. He really paved the path for me to come here, financially and spiritually and everything else. I think that, in recent times, that’s been the most obvious act of God in my life.
Who is one author or thinker or prophet or whoever that you would tell everyone to listen and pay attention to?
Yeah, I’ve recently become obsessed with Sarah Bessey- she’s an author who wrote “Jesus Feminist,” and has a new book coming out in November that I’m excited about. I think that she asks a lot of the questions that I ask, but she’s more graceful than I am. Her writing is very beautiful and poetic and she gets at a lot of truths that I know in my life, but she’s able to articulate them. I just really feel like her writing draws me closer to Jesus when I feel lost. She’s definitely my favorite.
Any parting words to anyone who would read this?
I would say, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions when they come. My experience has been that God is big enough to handle it. Don’t be afraid of using the brain that God gave you to ask the questions.