Open letter to MI students

Dearest MI Students,

I am so excited for you as you enter or continue this journey of higher education. I am a mom, grand mom, fellow ministry leader, fellow member of the church. I pray for each of you but I don't really know any of you well. I do know a few of you by name. I love hearing about the successes of each one. I pray for your struggles and triumphs. I pray for your relationships with each other and your families. I pray for your perseverance in your studies and your striving for excellence in all areas of your lives.

I would like to encourage you to grow in your faith. Make sure it is a personal faith now. You are young adults who may or may not have a firm foundation built by your families and home churches. It is time for real personal faith. This means you will be tested. You will have tragedies among you. You will have joy among you. You will have emotions you may have never experienced personally before now. Temptations will be hovering. I will not list them but read Galations 5.

I would like to directly address a few statements I heard several times now from MI students.

1. Why do I as a first year student have to do rotations if I grew up involved in the church and already know what I want to do?

The short answer is you do it because it's in the program. Everyone means everyone.

The longer answer may be that while YOU know what you want to do...Is that what God wants you to do? Maybe it is. Doing your rotations should help you know for sure. 

What if God puts you in a small church somewhere in the world? You would need to know how to do it all. 

What if you are one whom God has gifted more than one gift or talent? You may not know yet what those gifts are unless you try them out. We can all use one talent and learn to use it well. When God gives you more than one gift He expects you to use each one of them. More responsibility comes with more talents and gifts.

So maybe you just KNOW that you don't like working with children. What then?
Do it anyway. Do it with courage and be kind. You have to do things in life that you don't like. It's good for you. Really. Ask any of my children who are now all in the adult years if this is true.

2. I can't wait until I'm a 2nd, 3rd or 4th year student. I'm so glad I'm not a 1st or 2nd year student anymore.

Great! I'm glad to hear you love it here. 
What? That's not what you meant? You mean then you won't have to do such and such or this and that?

Those who can't wait...Why? Is it because you don't like the rules? Is it because you want more freedom? Is it because you have not been doing your part cheerfully? Are you jealous of the students who appear to do less? Do you think it's not fair?

I have heard all of these things from students this past weekend and year.
I pray for you to persevere. I pray for your attitudes. I love you all and want you to grow and be lights to this world. 
It's ok to feel these things. It's not ok to complain. You may have one person other than God that you can be accountable with and vent your feelings. If you need someone, I am available and do not judge. 

My concern is that those younger than you are listening. Those still in High School, Jr. High and even younger. They hear these grumblings and are making decisions regarding their future. MI is not for every future student. Please allow those coming up to hear God and make a decision without prejudice. Yes they need to know the expectations. Yes they should know the pros And cons. But they do not need to hear grumbling.

Those who are so glad they aren't ... Why? Did you not learn anything? Have you not grown in your relationships? Do you feel you are now somehow better than newer/younger students? Did you feel overburdened and now just feel more free? Do you think the dirty work is beneath you?

If you did not learn anything please change that now. Everyone can learn something new every day. 
Book learning is not the only kind of important learning in college. 
Relationships are always growing and changing. Change can be good if there is also growth and always love and compassion.
Jesus teaches us to put ourselves below others not above. He put himself below by washing feet and incredibly sacrificing himself for us.
College is tough. Freshman year is tough. While you are in a safer place than some it is still hard to leave home and start to be responsible for yourself. 

3. Cliques are just not good. I know it's hard. I know people tend to "group up" with people who are similar and have similar interests. 

I implore you to include all. Don't be too sensitive to perceived slights. Sometimes a RBF is just a mind elsewhere. Most of the time if someone seems standoffish they don't know how to jump in. If someone is on the outside YOU invite them in. Don't wait for someone else to do it. You do it. Always. Every single time. Do keep personal boundaries. No one is allowed to manipulate you or take advantage but at least invite them in. We are not all in the same place emotionally, spiritually or maturity so try to forgive others and give a little more.

I am a quiet person in general. I have been misunderstood by others and it really hurts. When I say I care I mean it. When I say I don't judge you I mean it. By the grace of God I am still here and still love people. All people. All the time. We all have baggage from our lives. The longer you live the bigger that baggage can become. Set it down and don't pick it up again. Learn from the past but don't take it with you into the present and certainly don't pick it up in the future. If you can really learn to trust God with everything you will have peace and joy in all circumstances.

If you read this whole thing thank you. If you skipped to the end here it is in a few sentences.

Love God, love others. Pray hard and study hard. Be kind. Have courage and be a light to others.

I will be praying for each one of you. I am certain you each have more praying for you than you will ever know. God is always with you and ahead of you. 
May you be blessed always with God's grace.
Kathleen Thomas


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