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The Blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
April 16, 2012
"InterVarsity Ruined My Life"
InterVarsity is a fellowship made up of humans. Meaning: we don’t get everything right. Meaning: we’re still figuring out how to follow God. Meaning: honest feedback is hard to hear but good to know so we can continue to grow and let God use us—as individuals and as a fellowship—in students’ lives.
Recently, we stumbled across some of that hard-to-hear honest feedback on a blog from an InterVarsity alumna doing social work. Below is an excerpt of her story on how InterVarsity ruined her life:
“When I joined InterVarsity my freshman year of college, I was the classic church girl with a passion for all things church. I didn’t swear, I didn’t drink and God forbid if I ever partied! I was your average dorm goody goody who stepped over the drunken body on the stairwell and posted Bible study fliers on my dorm door, thinking that somehow the clip art and fancy typology would entice people to follow Jesus.
“But the further into InterVarsity culture I dove, the more I discovered that this God I worshiped cared a whole lot about the disenfranchised, the impoverished, the oppressed, the underdogs of society. This sexy Jesus who sounded more like a radical socialist who wanted freedom and equality for all was not the one I remembered learning about in youth group. I was sold. This would be my dream.
“. . . But what I didn’t learn from InterVarsity that I wish I had was that this incarnational selfless sacrificial loving of the forgotten souls of society is not enough to keep you going. It looked so glamorous to be one of those InterVarsity alumni who sold all her things to help the poor, to live among the low-income neighbors, to feel the pain of the oppressed populations of our society. It was sexy for a summer in the inner city, feeding homeless people and having Bible study with alcoholics and drug addicts.
“But it’s not life.
“. . . I’m thankful for the idealistic dreamer that InterVarsity fostered in me, but I quickly realized that they developed a ‘me’ that can’t thrive outside of their culture. How much more fulfilling would my career be if I had debrief sessions with my staff worker afterwards or was assigned reading and workshops on seeking shalom in the city!
“But the real world doesn’t have the support of an extremely extroverted staff worker calling you 24/7, dragging you into the freshman dorms so you too can spread the Gospel.
“And the lesson of the day was: embrace suffering.
“I’d hate to break it to you, but if you embrace suffering 40 hours a week, you’ll most likely develop secondary PTSD. I get really good medical benefits for a reason—the job is hard.
“So, what I wished they had taught me when I was a young impressionable college student was this: you can glorify God in your arts, you can glorify God in profitable businesses, you can glorify God in the fashion industry, you can glorify God in a career of dancing, performing, even Hollywood. You don’t have to live dirt poor and breathe ashes to be a child of God.
“Because what happens is one’s attempt to live and act humbly just looks like a pompous act of holier-than-thou-because-I-can-embrace-suffering. The reality is . . . we are human. And there shouldn’t be guilt tied to wanting some comfort in life, some stability, and some relaxation.
“Alas, I still think my years with InterVarsity were the best years ever. Because I wasn’t disillusioned and I was a part of a passionate cause. I just wish the transition into the real world weren’t so jarring.”
(Read her entire post here.)
So now we’d like to open the floor and hear from you: Has InterVarsity ruined your life? What do you wish you had known before graduating? What do you wish your chapter had done differently?