Love as a Choice

Here at semester, we like to do things communally. Some might call it a community. Call it what you will. We all got thrown together and were left to our own devices to figure out some structure for a shared existence. It was not easy, but not all good things are easy. That being said, I have grown to love this community over these last few months. The formation of these loving relationships has not always been easy or fun, but that’s what made them more genuine. We have learned to live with and support each other in a way that is harder to cultivate in the outside world. We have learned how to bear with one another in a consistent way that is not dependent on our feelings alone. Over these few months, loving one another has been consistently chosen through daily intentionality.

The most profound idea I will be taking home from this community is the idea of loving others more than receiving love. During the first week of Semester, we read the chapter on community from Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. It talked about loving others more than focusing on receiving love. This has drastically changed my mindset in my interactions with the community. I realized that my default mindset has been to focus on how much I could be loved instead of how much I could love others.
One key aspect of creating such a tight-knit community is the meals we enjoy together. Meals are required, and this has caused us to spend so much more time together than normal. Mealtime has become special because we are tangibly doing life with each other. During the day, we might be together, but meals are always a time to recenter on the community.

This togetherness is something that has stuck out to me. At the beginning of Semester, it was the most daunting thing for me. Spending all my time with the same 40 people for three months seemed like a lot. This has been simultaneously the hardest and most rewarding part of the semester. There is no escape from potential problems or disagreements. We couldn’t just ignore one another if we had a problem: we have had to actually learn to work it out. The blessing of this effort spent cultivating relationships is knowing one another. Now we know the little details that make people who they are, and their absence is felt whenever one community member is not present. We have created a unified dynamic made up of our individuality.
With all this time spent together, we also see the sides of people they would prefer to remain hidden. However, this is a beautiful part of life in community. We have the opportunity to walk alongside one another and help carry each other’s burdens. I’ve learned that love cannot be dependent on receiving some kind of reciprocation. Living in community causes love to be a choice. Love isn’t always an easy feeling, and we’ve had to learn how to make that choice through these three months. As I’ve seen in this community, choosing love makes room for something far deeper and more beautiful.

Through this community, we have experienced the sweetness of intentional love. Inside jokes have formed, traditions have been created, and tears have been cried. We laughed until we got abs, played in the snow, traversed canyons, raked pine needles, washed dishes, played volleyball, swept floors, lost sleep, swing danced, hiked mountains, and, most of all, loved. Amid these experiences and all the emotional stimulus, we have tasted and seen God’s love in a way many of us will never forget. Though this community does not last our whole lives, it has made an imprint on our hearts that will last. I know that this season of community will be one that I can look back on and be reminded that I have loved and can continue in love.

I will leave you with this quote from Bonhoeffer’s book that we read at the beginning of the semester: “The more we received, the more we were able to give; and the more meager our brotherly love, the less we were living by God’s mercy and love. Thus, God taught us to meet one another as He has met us in Christ.”

From the fly-over state of Iowa, Anna Owen loves her state’s beautiful sunsets and epic thunderstorms. Although often only known for its abundant corn and plethora of pigs, Anna loves going back home to Iowa after her escapades across the country. Anna grew up on a family farm as the middle child alongside her two brothers and was homeschooled. Despite her disproportionate dread of canoes, Anna loves being outside and experiencing God’s creation in a tangible way, and she relishes a good thunderstorm. Anna feels most comfortable wearing a backpack and hiking up a mountain, playing a good game of frisbee or lacrosse, or holding a camera. Her love for videography and photography drives her to continue to create stories using those mediums. During Summit Semester, Anna is particularly excited to grow in such a close community and be challenged by ideas during class.