Blythe, what is the strangest Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
When I was in middle school, I had an aunt who lives in Vegas. She would just send a box to all my cousins and I, and she would just put names on random things. You knew it was really random, because one year I just got a toilet cleaner. Like, wrapped in a box, and I open it up, and I was just like “…a toilet cleaner?” and I was at an age where I couldn’t even fake it- I was just like “what is this? This is ridiculous!”
How did you find your way into this community?
When I came to Loyola, I remember I came with one of my best friends- we were roommates freshman year. We knew we both wanted a Christian community, which was something that would be important to both of us. My roommate’s boyfriend was already at Loyola, and he reached out to the ministry and got in touch with Mike Moore, so at org fair, Mike spotted us and was like “oh, you must be Blythe.” So we got plugged in to Agape pretty early on in the semester, so I was kind of involved from the beginning.
What would you say draws you into the community?
Something that really draws me in is the inclusivity of it all, especially at first when I felt like I was very different from the community. I wasn’t very artistic, didn’t have a lot of music knowledge, and that seemed to be the kind of “trend” of the community, and those were things that I’d never really known about. I really liked that because, even with those differences, they were willing to talk to me, and we found our own similarities, apart from the sort of surface sorts of things that you talk about in small talk. So it provided for deepening friendships even faster, because we had to find the commonality, and it wasn’t the sorts of things that you normally find with people.
So why would you say that you’re a Christian?
I think as my faith journey has progressed, something that I realized that is important for me is that living hope. It’s just something that you can’t get from any kind of worldly, explained reason.
What is the living hope?
The hope that Jesus was born, came to earth, died for us. There is hope in that: he conquered death. I think I’m a Christian, also, because of the stress on relationship and how God calls us to be among other people. I think it eases the mind of the fear of loneliness: even if you don’t have a spouse, I’m married to so many people in my own respect. That’s something that I cherish and something I feel like is God-given.
What draws you to Jesus?
I think what draws me to Jesus is just his consistency. I like to make things very circumstantial, and so the way I feel God feels toward me is based on how I feel I’ve shown him my love and my attention. So when that is nonexistent at times, I feel like he wouldn’t reciprocate his love. But it’s in the times that I’m very down, very low in my faith that he’s very present, right there. It’s just a very comforting feeling that it didn’t matter what I’m doing- he’s always going to be there. That’s something that I love about him.
What has God done for you that you could not do for yourself?
Something God did for me was actually last fall. I fell into a pretty deep depression- feeling pretty worthless, and there was a lot of guilt and shame associated with that. That kind of furthered the feeling of sadness and sorrow, and it got to a point where I had no real motivation to pursue Agape or be involved in the community, which is very unlike me because I’m a very social person. So that’s when I knew that I was feeling these things to an extreme that I had never felt before. I think God really used my roommates to lift me out of that, and that was something that I couldn’t do for myself- I couldn’t get myself to go to church, or read the Bible, or pray. But God was constantly interceding on my behalf, through friends, community, my mentors. That’s something I can say now, but in the moment I definitely didn’t believe that or have any sort of hope in that. I thought “this is my forever.” I think God slowly got me out of that, and that’s something that I’m grateful for, and something I look back on when I’m sad, to see that God was there.
If you could recommend a book- doesn’t have to be a Christian book, but a book nonetheless, what’s one book you think people should read?
I really liked Blue Like Jazz
Very Christian approach; not claimed Christian book. But you know, the Christian themes are there. I recommend that book solely because it is a clear representation of being a Christian in the world: being a minority, being attacked sometimes, being ridiculed, being challenged of what you believe in and what you don’t believe in, and allowing yourself to figure those things out. I just remember reading that book and thinking to myself and thinking “yeah!” So, I think that would be a book I’d recommend.
Any final words of wisdom?
I think something that I’ve learned that has helped me is this: you don’t have to be a perfect person for other people. You don’t have to pretend to be an emotion you aren’t feeling in that moment- like, if you are feeling sorrow, I think you should be able to feel that sorrow and ride it out for as long as it needs to be felt. Hopefully you’ll have friends to ride it out with you, but I don’t think you should feel the need to say you’re okay just for the sake of saying you’re okay. Just be real with where you’re at and know that people will love you, regardless of where that is.