My friends my friends. I'm posting this picture from the Notre Dame Football locker room to spare you an image of my drinking time at Notre Dame. Boy was it fun, but it's not who this girl is anymore.
This blog post, video and song are a major shout out to all you college students out there - Notre Dame or elsewhere who may do something stupid (and your friends) (and the alumni who go back and still do something stupid).
This is here to encourage you and remind you that you are NOT alone if you mess up, and that no matter what happens or what you do, you ARE completely embraced by a loving God.
Now, why do I say this....well, I was one of those kids in just about this first week of school starting for many - who ended up in a hospital on my very first weekend at Notre Dame. I was walking in the halls of our classroom building DeBartolo when a guy shouted to me while I was still in the third day of a hangover, "Hey! How you feeling? I took you to the hospital!" Yeah, not so cool. My roommates, who I barely knew had to pick me up at the old St. Joe Hospital so I could go back to the dorm in the middle of the night. All I remember is walking out to my friend's Volvo station wagon, her dropping me off at Main Circle and handing me a plastic bag while I said, "Oh My Gosh they dry cleaned this for me?!!!!" We laughed about it for ages, and it's still funny to think about my drunken escapades. But how I felt DURING those drunken escapades? Was not so funny. That wasn't the only incident in college. There were others and with each one I felt a little more shame. But I had nowhere to put it.
If you didn't drink at Notre Dame, you didn't fit in. That's at least how I felt. People wonder why you are trying not to drink. You feel like the major odd-man out and nobody wants to be that when you are trying to make it in college. SO! I took my drinking skills and used them to make friends (nobody does that, right?!).
On top of that, my eating got out of control and with each occasion I seemed to feel worse about myself not just physically but mentally and emotionally. Looking back, I know I was drowning fears and insecurity that I was too blind to see. But even more powerfully, I can see a girl that was missing something huge.
I was missing a spiritual solution - a relationship with a God who loved me, not one I had to hide from by drowning in fears. This did not come by performance or behaviors or anything I could do myself. It came when I had enough of myself, and I needed to reach out to God for help. That moment happened when I was back at Notre Dame as a grad student over 7 years ago. It was not easy, but it was absolutely life changing. My life was transformed not by some degree, or workout or diet, or earthly solution - but by finally finding that spiritual solution. I needed to find that God wasn't who I'd known. He was completely the opposite, and the journey ahead would show me that.
Why do I say all this?
Because it's the first week of school for many. In three days, here in South Bend there is about to be one of the biggest games of the century, Notre Dame vs. Texas. I don't even know if I'm going, but what I do know is there will be a lot of kids who do something really stupid. Things will happen. Kids will get hurt either physically or emotionally. Crazy stuff will happen as a result of behaviors with drinking, drugs, and sexual assault and none of us will be able to stop it. The idea of that completely stinks and I am continually praying for minimal casualties.
But the more important thing to realize - is that this will keep happening if we don't do something, if we don't change the course of history on college campuses and literally PIVOT. When I say pivot, I mean stop blaming the establishment for not sanctioning this or that, but focus on what we can do. We can be real. We can share our pain and our hope, for those of us who've overcome that world. We can reach out for help. Sometimes reaching out for help doesn't come in the form of campus police, friends, campus counseling or even our parents. It comes from turning to that loving God who's like, "Hey, I love you and I've never stopped loving you. You don't have to do this to yourself. Let's get help." I promise. He WILL show you the way. But it won't come through works, it will come through something so beautiful as GRACE.
So if you come to this point with yourself as a student either this week or in the coming weeks, months or years in college - know this: You're NOT alone. God is WITH you. All you've got to do is reach out to Him. Not only that, there ARE people who can show you a different way. You just gotta pray for Him to put them in your path. In the meantime, come back to this post. Read the blog with a little caption of my story. Watch the video. Watch the music video. Read the Word. Whatever you do, don't let the enemy keep you in His grasp.
The solution DOES NOT have to come from outside of you or through what you do. It CAN come from a spiritual place, just trust that God wants you to know He is RIGHT there next to you and wants to show you a better way.
THIS is the song I was jamming to while I was getting ready for this message. It will be on repeat. I hope it helps you!