Hannah, scenario: you still have the same body, but you have the head of an animal. What animal is it, and why?
My favorite animals are elephants, so I’d probably pick that. Plus it would be really fun to have an extra limb to pick things up with and eat with and such.
Now, would this be the size of a regular elephant head?
No, it would be proportional to my body, because otherwise I’d be falling over and all that jazz.
How did you end up in Agape?
When I came to college, I knew I wanted to be involved in a church or some group on campus, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted that to be or look like, and so I started visiting a few churches in the neighborhood and thinking “should I be involved with that and do things during the week?” It wasn’t until October that Emma Haney invited me to Agape; she had been already so she dragged me there. So I go and there are all these crazy people and I didn’t know anybody. I snuck in a group with her, even though I wasn’t supposed to. I felt like it was different from my youth group and that was kind of what I was looking for; I thought “oh, this is college, I shouldn’t just be playing games all the time. This has a purpose.”
What draws you in? What keeps you coming back?
I would say the people. Definitely. I feel like that’s the classic answer, but it’s definitely a community. You can walk all around campus. Yes, there’s those friends that you see from classes or your job, but if you see someone from Agape, you feel like there is something binding you together; like they are your family in a different way.
Why are you a Christian?
I was born and raised a Christian, I think; my dad would do bible studies every morning before school, and go to church every Sunday. I think I had a really rough time my freshman year of high school; going through a lot and my family was going through a lot, so I started questioning God. I started questioning why these things were happening, and I really separated myself from God. Through that, I found that without him, things weren’t good. It was lonely and scary and this world that I couldn’t comprehend, and still can’t comprehend. So, I realized that yes, I don’t have to know all the answers, but God wants me to question him and be real with him- we can’t hide anything from God anyway. I think throughout the rest of high school and a lot of college, Ive been trying to come into my own faith, and not the faith of my parents or family, necessarily.
Why would you say that is? Have you found a reason that it’s for you?
I definitely have those roller-coaster moments where I’m asking the question, “why am I a Christian, again?” and I keep coming back to the fact that I can’t live a life without God.
What draws you to Jesus? What is it about Jesus that keeps you?
His grace. He’s not legalistic; that’s really what I struggled with in high school: the legalism of the Bible. I was struggling with all those questions and kept missing the idea that Jesus is the opposite of legalism; he’s full of forgiveness and of grace. Its such a simple thing that I just kept missing.
I’m also drawn to his forgiveness. I kind of feel like Peter sometimes, where Jesus asks him “do you love me?” and Peter keeps saying “yes, of course I do.” And I say that to God all the time, but at the same time Peter denied Jesus and I deny Jesus all the time. But Jesus loved Peter, and Jesus loves me that way, too. I have to remember that, because I think I get drawn into the legalistic side and not being perfect or good enough, and I have to remember that Jesus loved Peter and Jesus is grace.
What gives you hope?
In Agape, we’ve been studying the Trinity. In every passage, we’ve talked about how this isn’t the end. This isn’t what God intended. I think what gives me hope is what is coming.
Where do you experience grace?
I think, like when I talked about how my faith is a roller-coaster sometimes, where I turn away from God and go back to him. I’ll go on tangents where I read the Bible every day, and then don’t read it for two months. But also with people, I’m the same way. Especially people who I can tell love Jesus in the way that I do, and then you can see his grace through them, too.
How have you experienced it through people?
More recently, I feel pulled in all different directions as a senior. I feel like I’m not giving enough, and I’ve felt grace through that. People have definitely been forgiving.
What are some of your favorite books?
The Year of Biblical Womanhood, I know Emma talked about that one, but I really liked it. Also, Frank Peretti books- he uses really good imagery, and its hard for me to imagine God or Jesus or spiritual things in real life, so I really like how he does that. Also, for more secular books, I’m a big fan of Cormac McCarthy (The Road, No Country for Old Men, etc). I really like post-apocalyptic books, but also his use (or non-use) of grammar, it makes things interesting.
Any parting words?
You can’t be a perfect Christian or leader. It’s impossible. Just remember that Jesus is grace.