When I first walked into Trinity College Campus in September 2019, I wasn’t sure of much.
I knew a few things were true: I was here alone; I was here to study English Literature; I was fully known and fully loved by the God who made and saved me.
I grew up constantly fearful of the opinions of others: dressing to fit in, altering my speech, my demeanour and my self–expression in order to put forward an image of myself which complied with ‘normal, ‘cool’, or ‘popular’. But when I began earnestly to give my mind and heart to God, he showed me something obvious: All the details about me, the things I enjoy, the topics I take interest in, what I find funny or shocking or beautiful were all given to me on purpose. He placed me where I am, and he knows and loves all the people he has put near me.
God knew that early into my first term I would sit next to *Amy on the cricket pitch, and he knew our mutual opinions on cereal, dogs, charity shops and poetry before we so much as exchanged names. But He also knew our hearts. She had questions, and God enabled me to provide some of the answers, supported by a church family in Dublin who would one day embrace her also.
In the first term of college, Amy’s curiosity about my faith sometimes made me nervous: if I told her my stance on a particular subject, I feared she and all our other friends would leave me. I feared they would laugh at me, deem me a freak and go on their merry way without me. But in amongst those fears, God was working.
Time with our friends on the pitches on sunny days turned into evenings discussing existential topics. God blessed us with multiple openings for the gospel, allowing us to pursue the true source of our understanding and how exactly our worldviews collided.
In college, Amy and I were inseparable, and my friends at CU knew her name. She didn’t know, but we were praying for her, alongside my family at home. Since moving into an apartment together this year, CU has been constant evidence of grace in our little lockdown life. Even though we can’t all be together physically, the presence of other Christians on Monday evenings discussing God’s word, playing games, asking questions, has led both of us into some of the most important friendships we have, with people who are invested in us for who we are and continually share their lives with us in genuine love and joy.
For all the hardship of life in a pandemic, we have spent so much of lockdown in laughter because of these new connections provided by the grace of God in Christian community.
My prayer for my own life and that of my Christian friends is that the Lord should be transforming us to that end. Amy will be the first to tell you just how wobbly my self confidence is, but by God’s grace, the two of us have been able to discover and hold onto an identity in someone higher.
In my friendship with Amy I experienced God’s grace in being able to do this. Her desire for lasting hope coincided with my clinging to that very thing, and finding the words to express where I had found it. The gift of joy is one given freely to all those who accept his grace by faith, and is an even deeper privilege for the fact that we can share it with those He lets us meet day by day.
*Names have been changed