You’ve just been given a yacht- what do you name it, and why?
Umm…well, whenever I name things, I strongly believe that you don’t actually name it- it tells you its name. So, all the instruments I’ve ever had, I believe you have to spend time with an instrument before it tells you its name. You have to get to know it, and then it tells you its name finally. Sometimes it takes months, sometimes it takes years, depending on how mysterious the instrument is.
So you’d have to form a relationship with the yacht?
Yeah, and that’s kind of what I do with my cacti- I observe them and get to know them.
What are their names?
I have a really fat one, its name is Theodore. I had one with a South African name, but I think she died.
How did you find your way into Agape?
It was kind of a weird roundabout way- I went to Intervarsity at U Chicago, and then I knew Intervarsity was all over so I looked up Loyola to see if we had an Intervarsity, and I saw Taylor Norris’ name. I went to her and was like “hey, why don’t we have Intervarsity at Loyola anymore?” and then she told me about how she worked for Agape and I started going there.
What draws you to these people?
I think it’s just the really amazing community that we have- people are really vulnerable and honest and I think just being able to be honest and real with people does a lot of healing. That’s what brings them back constantly- just being able to know that they can be struggling or doing really well or questioning their faith, or any stage of their journey with God. I think being able to be honest about how you’re doing with God is what allows you to progress, and I think that’s what Agape does really well.
Why are you a Christian?
I am a Christian, not because it’s easy- I was raised Christian but I didn’t really commit to Christianity or God until later in my life and I think I’m still a Christian today because I’ve been in a lot of situations in my life where I’ve been in a lot of dark places and scary situations that were really empty, and I think the only thing that was able to pull me out of those places was the hope and the life that God had to offer. In those moments when you’re so low, when everything is stripped away, nothing really matters- the hope of the world doesn’t matter. The things that used to make you excited, the people, none of it matters anymore and everything seems extremely meaningless. The only thing that ever brought me out of those places was God and knowing who he is and the hope he had to offer. After witnessing those things, it’s hard to deny that he’s real and the most fulfilling thing in life. I’ve committed my life to him, and I think it’s the best decision I’ve made.
What draws you to Jesus?
I think the biggest thing about Jesus’ character that draws me to him is that he’s totally radical and passionate about everything he does- he doesn’t do anything half-heartedly. I think I can relate to that because in my own life, I always have to do everything to the extreme. If I’m a Christian, I’m going to do it in the most way, or if I’m passionate about art, I’m going to do it in the most extreme way. But also that means that if I’m struggling or partying a lot, I’m going to do it to the most extreme and I think I do that because when I experience something, I want to experience it to the fullest- all the way, full out. So, it’s really hard because sometimes I’m at this extreme place in my faith, and a month later I’m in this extreme rut, and it’s really hard for me to control that. It’s really nice to know that Jesus is like that, but he’s always extreme with God and his faith, and it’s nice to know that he’s not doing it half-heartedly and he wants you to experience it too. Also, what’s always drawn me to jesus is that he doesn’t make a ton of sense. When I tell people about Jesus through evangelizing, its always like his love for us makes no sense. There’s no reason for him to chase after us and love us, but he does and I really like that. I really like that my faith doesn’t completely make sense- I don’t want it to. It should be weird and mysterious and unreasonable, and I really like that.
What feeds your soul- what sorts of things make you come alive?
I think two things- first, whenever I hang out in good community, especially in our house, whenever we have a good bible study, I think that really feeds my soul. It’s a good depiction of the Kingdom, I think, I remember, “oh this is what we’re living for.” I think this is what good community is for, so that we can see what it’s supposed to be like when we live fully in Christ and being loved by others even in your worst moments.
Also, I think spending time with God alone. That’s really changed for me over the years- I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be what everyone says it should be. You don’t have to sit down and read devotionals and pray for thirty minutes. It’s different for everyone, and that’s really helped me in forming my own time alone with God and how I like to do it. Sometimes I like to read a lot of poetry, or just read a lot of theology and it really helps me connect to God.
If you could tell the readers of this blog, “Go listen to one person, hear what they have to say,” who would it be?
I would say for a non-Christian, Sylvia Plath, because she writes really raw and depicts the emptiness of life without God very well, and she doesn’t even know God and I think that says more, because she’s just writing about her personal life. But, whenever I read her book The Bell Jar, I remember thinking “this is exactly how I feel when I feel really far from God, just so empty and no hope, absolutely. I would also recommend Tim Keller because he’s my favorite theologian. He always brings it back to the Gospel and always talks about the Gospel- that’s the whole point of everything, which he does really well. All of his books are really good, but The Meaning of Marriage changed my life just because he talks about the reason for relationships and brings the Gospel into that- how the Gospel speaks to our relationships with our friends and our family and our significant other. It’s just really beautiful and really brings into perspective how selfish you are and how the bonds you have are meant to change your life- you’re meant to keep growing and changing.
Any parting words of wisdom?
I think what I’ve learned in college is there is always time to do things. You always feel like college is these four years to have all these experiences, make all these friends, but what I’ve realized is that the most fulfilling thing and the most important thing is how you live for God in college and to step up to that calling he has for you. I think I’ve really experienced that in our events, when we do evangelism or when we hand out hot dogs- its like “this isn’t really helping me” but this is so important. When I look back on college, this is what I’m gonna think is really great. I would just say “step up to God’s calling and what he’s doing and be available for that and form relationships in Agape and invest in those things.”