I recently saw the following headline and article tagged in a social media post: “Cincinnati church wipes out $46.5 million in medical debt for 45,000 families.” Perhaps more interesting to me was the accompanying post, which was simply “We could do this. But would we?”
Think about it. What should we be doing? And why aren’t we doing it?
This has implications in our personal lives and for the Church as a whole. Sure, it would be easy to simply ask the question, “Why doesn’t my church do something like this?” or “Why are we spending large amounts of money on impressive churches or impressive icons or impressive liturgical items?” And those are questions that our leaders must be willing to ask and answer. But for us, something else is at the heart of the matter.
Take a moment and think about the past day, week, even year. How much time, energy, and talent was spent with an inward focus looking for or achieving an inward result? Would I summarize my actions, what I actually do, as primarily self-fulfilling or self-emptying? And, if I call myself a Christian, are my actions aligned with what Christ taught and did?
I don’t know the specifics about this Cincinnati church and what they were able to do. It’s not for me to analyze or judge. I do know that there are people in need. Financial need, emotional need, medical need, hunger, alone, unloved, uncared for, and the list goes on. What strikes me is that I spend most of my time and days ensuring that the needs above are taken care of for myself. How much time will I spend ensuring that they’re taken care of for others?
How shall I live?
Dn. Marek Simon
Dn. Marek is the Executive Director of Orthodox Christian Fellowship. He is passionate about serving and mentoring young people, helping them explore their faith, and growing the ministry of OCF so that all college students have the opportunity to participate. Dn. Marek lives in the Nashville area with his wife and two children.
So, as you may have noticed, the Blog Contributor posts for the month of February have focused on the transition from high school to college. Since my younger sister is currently making this transition herself, it has definitely been on my mind a lot these past few weeks and months. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the college experience, especially since I’m still a university student and struggling to make it through myself. But, this being said, since I’m currently a junior (finals are in two months—what?!), I hope to offer to any high school student reading this a few words about what I’ve learned over these few short years.
1. Treasure these last few months.
It’s no secret that, if you’re reading these words right now as a high school student, your life is about to do a full 180-degree twist. Please, use this time wisely, and enjoy every moment you have now. Spend lots of time with your family and friends. Your first year of college will likely be the busiest year so far of your life, so enjoy that free time. Finally, if you’re already been accepted into college, you’re probably super-excited and focused on that right now; but keep fighting that battle, and finish high school strong.
2. Enjoy the time now, but also plan ahead.
I hope I don’t sound like I’m contradicting myself, but while taking the time to appreciate these last few months you have as a high school student, also be sure to take the time to plan ahead. Does your school have an OCF chapter? You can check that out here. Do you know which church you’ll be attending while away at college? The time to make these decisions really is right now, and not the first Saturday when you’re away at school. Also, be sure send an introductory email ahead of time to the priest at the church you’ll be attending while at college! As the daughter of a priest, I can tell you that, if you contact your clergy ahead of time, it will totally make their day. Plus, it will make you feel a little more at home when you get there!
Going to OCF meetings has been one of my favourite parts of college
3. It’s about your time to grow up and make your own decisions.
Most likely, unless your circumstances were exceptional, going away to college (or even entering college and staying at home) will be the first time that you are able to make decisions completely for yourself. That’s a really exciting thing! So, go and try something new. The experiences that you have now might never be available to you again, so take advantage of them. We all know that college is about more than the classes you take, so make wise use of the extracurricular opportunities that come your way.
4. But, it’s about more than you. Sorry.
I’ve heard so many people tell me that college is all about me. My classes, my choices, my life. However, the world is never going to be all about you, and the decisions you make will always have an impact on others. Don’t let anyone ever fool you into believing the myth that these years are for worrying about yourself and that somehow things will work out later. College represents only about four years of your life, but the relationships you have with your friends, your family, and with God are forever. If we neglect these relationships in college, then we risk going down a selfish and self-destructive path.
So, my advice to you is to let this time be self-forming but not self-focusing. Use these years to become the most kind, loving, and giving person you can be. The college experience will leave us all as suddenly as it came along, but the decisions we make in college will not. I know this sounds scary, and it sometimes makes me pretty nervous, too, so I’ll leave you with these last words: college is a very stressful time, but in the midst of it all, if you focus on the One in Whom you put your trust, the world somehow seems a lot less frightening place after all.
Anastasia Lysack in her third year of her Music degree at the University of Ottawa. She attends Christ the Saviour Orthodox Church in Ottawa, where she teaches Sunday School and sings in the choir. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, volunteering, and visiting just about any coffee shop in the city of Ottawa.