From Porch to Pit: Reflections from a Recent Grad

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On a morning walk with Amber Younger, the Director of Christian Life at the NC Study Center, she shared with me a small word of wisdom that shaped my remaining semesters at UNC. At the time, I was half-way through my junior year, feeling overwhelmed. I shared with Amber that I felt weary at the prospect of stewarding everything well. She pointed me to the Lord’s Prayer, where Jesus instructs his disciples to pray for bread for one day at a time. With that language as my model, I too was to ask the Lord only for the wisdom and grace needed to handle each day as it found me.

That wisdom has personally served me well over the past year and a half, but it also reflects a mentality the Study Center embodies. Amidst all the hospitality, events, and life-changing programs, the mission of the organization is never lost, as its activities strategically meet the intellectual, spiritual, and vocational needs of students wherever they are.

The Study Center does not host activity for activity’s sake, but approaches every event as an opportunity to serve God and love people.  Several events and programs stick out to me as remarkable from the last few years. Thanks to the Wilberforce Conference and faith and work lunches like one from Nathan Clendenin, I’ve learned about lives shaped by our vocation to work well and for God’s glory. A talk by Bethany Jenkins directed my discernment in navigating internship decisions, and Tish Harrison Warren taught me about my place in the global church.

In addition to hosting amazing events and programs, the center partners with student efforts to bring thought and creativity to campus. I’ve led multiple student-run organizations that flourish from the support of the study center. We’ve received space, guidance, and expanded reach thanks to the Battle House. I have seen the center bring good ideas to fruition that otherwise might not have the resources to take off. As a result, students are provided with the pragmatic and relational tools to grow holistically.

Probably most important to me, in the quiet moments of each day, the Battle House staff continue to prioritize caring for the soul of every individual student.  Amber exemplified this in her willingness to meet with me regularly, making time to routinely hear me unload my burdens. We sit on the Carolina blue rocking chairs that decorate the porch, sipping complimentary coffee from one of the Battle House’s quirky mugs. She is never rushed or hurried. Instead, in our time together, she seems to offer her heart and time fully to me.

Each day is full of its own programs, interpersonal conversations, and cups of coffee. And each day, the Battle House resolves to steward all parts of it well. I cannot understate the spiritual, vocational, and personal growth I’ve experienced because of the Battle House and the mentorship I’ve received from the staff. As I approach graduation, I can’t imagine my college experience without the North Carolina Study Center.

–Holly Harris, Class of 2019