By Sylvie Johnson (Colorado)
I wanted to love.
It was something I struggled with, but I attempted to learn how to love wholly and wisely.
I never progressed beyond memorizing 1 Corinthians 13 and sticky notes on my mirror.
I wasn’t applying what I needed to implement in my life: genuine love. So, coming to Summit Semester there were many things I wanted to take away from my three-month experience and one of those was learning to love. But, like at home and in the world, I had braced myself for the challenge it would be to love genuinely here at Summit Semester, I didn’t consider that others would be doing the same.
When we got here on that August afternoon I think all of us consciously decided to be our best selves, taking advantage of a change. No one knew who I was before coming to Summit Semester and the struggle I had with genuine love, which was freeing and I now had the opportunity to actually love others the way I wanted to. There was no reason why I couldn’t become that person who loved well.
Love was a topic that came up in class…a lot.
Romantic love, idealistic love, friendship love, compassionate love. It seemed ironic. But God had prepared my mentality and heart to receive what the professors had to say on the topic of love. And the thoughts and conversations helped me work and put into practice the love of Christ I wanted to give others.
The topic of love was not bound to classroom conversation but bled into how my fellow students acted. They loved well. I remember coming across challenges from home (a bad phone call, receiving bad news, an argument, etc.) in the first few days of coming to Summit Semester and being loved and supported through those situations, from people actually holding me as I sobbed, to long midnight conversations that left me with hope.
I know we all wanted to love well and every day we decided to love like Christ.
Love became a conscious choice for me and others instead of randomly inspired emotion. It was put on as we trudged towards breakfast or walked into the classroom or lived with each other; we put on the love of God daily and it impacted my life at a deeper level than I ever anticipated. Before coming to Summit Semester I had lived in a preverbal hovel in the way I loved and others loved me.
I was impoverished in my love and I came starving for it here to Summit.
And I was fed.
I was full of the food of love.
And now, I have to go back. That very fact breaks my heart. How can I go back into a world of selfishness and hatred without losing my love I found at Summit Semester? Only by the grace of God. I do not expect to make that transition perfectly. I do not expect to have complete grace in that. But I do expect to be changed forever because Christ resides with me and He gave me my time at Snow Wolf Lodge.
I think as I go home, the greatest way I can keep my love on is by loving others well, the way I was loved and loved here. It was a gift given freely to me, so I must give that gift as well. Without stinginess, without pride, without falsity. This love of God that each of us put on at Summit Semester can be given to others at home who never experienced such love of the community of God. Love gives. And gives. And gives. And so must I.
“A new commandment I give you, love one another…”
As I struggle going back home to the lack of love in my world, I will want to give up. For love is a heavy burden to carry and at times I will want to put it off. But regardless of how I am feeling about loving others, I must remember that it is a commandment, not an action that flows from affectionate emotions. As I go home, as I leave Snow Wolf Lodge, as I leave the community that loved so well, I want to keep my love.