By Mark Quion
Here are 5 encouragements I’ve compiled for your browsing pleasure. These 5 encouragements are for your first few weeks at Weimar which can potentially throw you for a loop. I’m sure that will happen to some extent, but my prayer is that eventually Weimar will become a second home to you as it has to myself and many others.
1. Cervical Radiculopathy
My guess is 50%-75% of you are looking down at your phones as you read this. STOP! No, no, keep reading but notice the unnatural bend in your neck. It increases the pressure on your neck from the normal 10 pounds (upright) to 45 pounds (bent). To illustrate, holding a heavy object on one’s shoulders is significantly easier than holding it out in front of oneself. You can try slowly lifting the phone to eye level… but now you look like you’re trying to take a confused selfie…all the time. Ok here’s the point, Dr. Sparks, a professor at Purdue who has studied college friend networks extensively, writes that one of the greatest hindrances to meaningful friend networks is distractions from media and technology. So for the first few weeks of school let’s prevent cervical radiculopathy (nerve damage caused by consistently looking down) and encourage meaningful face-to-face interactions. Put your phone down and get out of your room.
2. Wanna Be Friends?
This summer quite a few of your classmates, including myself, worked at summer camp. I frequently heard something most of you have probably heard one earnest kiddo say to another: “Hey wanna be friends?” We smile, as older more sophisticated collegiates, but we miss the simplicity of what happens afterwards.
If the question is followed up with the wished-for “yes”, it is immediately followed by “ok let’s go do [fill in the blank] together.”
I compared this to my own experience integrating into new groups. Yes, learning names, majors, hometowns, and favorite foods are crucial basics. However they are more meaningful if followed up by a “lets go do … together.” Essentially, take note returning students, not just “my name is Mark Quion”, but followed by a “hey a group of us are playing pickle ball in the morning want to come?” I feel the most welcomed by this because it means I have a place to be outside of the normal school schedule. Seriously though, I’m taking a group to play pickle ball so let me know if you want to come 🙂
3. Get A Move On!
I could add a plethora of studies proving how exercise is crucial to student success. Start the habit early of walking the trails, playing ball, or going for a run. If you don’t consider yourself an athlete, don’t worry! Some studies are showing that walking, a simple exercise, is actually one of the best forms of exercise. Ellen White writes that, “when the weather will permit, all who can possibly do so ought to walk in the open air every day, summer and winter” (CH. 20). In-between classes, before devotions, or with a group of friends — get out there and get some exercise!
4. Take A Tumble
I am not a big fan of trying new and spontaneous things. Last year some of our SA members started this curious tradition of rolling down the hill by Hilton…for fun. I was skeptical, but there were quite a few students in trash bags cruising down the hill, crashing into each other, and genuinely experiencing a laughter-filled study break. Where was I during these escapades? On a phone call, doing homework, and finding other productive methods to skip out on a roll down the hill. I’d even wear nicer pants so I’d have the grass stains excuse! Takeaway lesson: I’m lame, don’t be like me. If something spontaneous like this comes up, which it inevitably will, be a good steward of your time—but don’t be a hoarder of it. Take a break and roll down the hill…and then go back and you might even find yourself more productive.
5. Cry Out
I find that in Scripture, many a character in a new and different circumstance cries out to God in a deeper way. Jonah to Nineveh, Daniel to Babylon, and Moses to the desert are just a few examples. You may be here because you know God wants you here; He has called and the doors have opened. Perhaps Weimar was not your first choice, but you’re intent on making the best of it. Weimar may be your wilderness experience like Moses’, a mission field like Jonah’s, or perhaps a new and testing experience like Daniel’s. What I know from each of these narratives is that during their new experience God spoke to them, in ways He had not before. Not because He wouldn’t before, but maybe because He couldn’t before. Like a child without the comfort of it’s mother, they cried out and listened with a deeper and more vulnerable heart voice. Be insecure with God. Cry out as you search the Scriptures and let Him answer as He did to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). So like Christ, go “in the morning…to a solitary place” and pray (Mark 1:35). One of my favorites (when I lived on campus) was to go up early in the morning and have devotions with the sunrise by the farm. There used to be a little wooden shed I’d go to and turn a bucket turned upside down in the doorway, and have my time with God there. Set an alarm, put out warm clothes, and go find a place where you’ll meet Him in the morning.