I looked into my mailbox and there was the letter that I had been waiting for. The letter I had prayed for over and over again. As I open the letter I see the word, “Congratulations!” and I know that after all the wondering, the waiting, and the long process, I had finally gotten the RA job. I search the rest of the letter to see where my assignment is and my excitement dies down as I read that I have been put in Parks Tower. My mind is reeling. I think about all the horrible things I have heard about Parks, I think about the things I have heard that go on there, I think about all the things that I stand for and all the things that I am, I think about the negative stereotypes which are labeled onto Parks Tower.
As I step off the elevator into my nice, safe, residence hall I wonder what in the world God could be thinking. I go into my room and am quite relieved to see that my roommate is still at class because I need some quality thinking and praying time. I did a lot of things that night. I prayed, I asked God over and over again what he wanted for me, what his will was, and how he wanted me to handle the whole situation. My friends who lived in Parks told me that they liked it, they told me the good things about it and they did not hesitate to tell me the bad things about it. I called my parents and talked everything through with them. I read my Bible and searched for guidance and wisdom. I talked to one of my friends Miranda who was also applying to be a RA. I found out that she also got the job but in a different residence hall. When Miranda asked me if I had gotten a letter and where my assignment was I told her that I had gotten a letter, that I had been assigned to Parks and that I was honestly thinking about turning down the position. Miranda looked at me as if I had completely lost my mind and went on to say something to the respect of, “I can’t believe you are thinking about turning it down. I wanted to be in Parks, I wanted to work with all freshmen. Parks isn’t as horrible as its reputation wants everyone to think. You would be awesome with freshmen, you are involved in campus, you are caring, outgoing, and exactly what those freshmen need. Promise me you will really think this through before you turn down this position.” I promised her that I would really think it through and I did. Her words haunted me for days. I stilled prayed on and on. God never truly gave me an answer, he didn’t give me a sign, but I knew that after everything I had done that God truly wanted me to take the job in Parks. I didn’t know why, I couldn’t understand what I could get out of it, I didn’t even know if I could truly like it, but I trusted God and so I took the job.
After I had finished all my praying about whether or not to take the job I guess that I just thought that God would no longer be a part of my job. There’s that period between when you actually get the job and when you start the job and during those times I didn’t think about being a RA, and I didn’t think about what kinds of effects God would have in my life through my job.
Then I got into training and I truly thought that God would have no part in my job. I thought that I could be a Christian, that I could be a RA, and that the two would never have to be related. I’m not sure that I wanted it that way but it seemed like it would make everything easier. That mindset lasted a total of two days during training. Then I got the wake-up call that I couldn’t be a Christian without it affecting my RA job. That even meant that not only would I have to live in Parks, which was out of my comfort zone, I would also have to let my residents know that I was a Christian, which was also out of my comfort zone. So after this discovery I decided that I was just going to have to reconstruct my comfort zone and I had approximately ten days to do that before my residents moved in. I didn’t really have any idea how to go about doing this so I prayed. My first baby step was letting the other twenty-seven RAs, the hall director, and the two Grad assistants know where I stand on my faith. I tried to reconstruct my attitude knowing that I wouldn’t truly know how I was doing until my residents moved in. So I practiced things on my fellow RAs, who probably didn’t have a clue, and tried to decide what worked with me and what didn’t. While other RAs were busy doing door decs, bulletin boards, and hanging signs I was praying. I was praying for my floor, for my building, for the other RAs, for the professional staff, and for the campus as a whole. I think I changed more during training then I changed my whole freshmen year.
Then it was the day that my residents moved in. I was in no way shape or form ready to face twenty-three girls who I would be responsible for. I was not ready to see just how much God was going to affect my life and my job. But no matter if I was ready or not they came. I was welcoming, open, and nervous. With my newly reconstructed comfort zone I was on a mission to see just how well I had done in just ten short days. My first encounter was successful, telling her I was a Christian and explaining why was easy and everything went smoothly. Twenty-two more times I did the same thing and each time it went smoothly. After the twenty-third one I knew that through ten short days, and thirty awesome people my comfort zone had been completely reconstructed. That was only the beginning.
What other things did God have in store for me? After the second week I felt as if I was having double fish bowl syndrome. Not only was everyone watching me because I was a RA, but they were also watching me because I was a Christian. That took me a long time to get used to. I have finally gotten used to it, and I try to just tell myself that I am human, that I am going to make mistakes, and that it will be good for them to see that. I don’t yell, I don’t swear, I don’t drink, I don’t do a lot of things. When I go out to confront someone I remind myself that not only am I representing the RA position, I am also representing God. I pray each day for guidance and wisdom, and ask that God watch over me and help me to do my job to the best of my ability.
My residents, my fellow RAs and the professional staff are also constantly in my prayers. I pray that God watches over them, for specific things that I notice, or just to help them do their jobs well. Maybe these people will never know that they are constantly in my prayers but it doesn’t matter because I know, and God knows. During confrontations, whether it is for quiet hours, or something more serious, I am the first one to start praying. Maybe people don’t know that but it is true. I pray for the RAs, the security workers, the residents who are being confronted, and the hall directors or grad assistants who may be involved. I pray that God watch over all of them, that he helps them to do their job to the best of their ability, and to help the people who are being confronted. I want God’s presence to be on this Tower.
I think that being a RA while being a Christian gives me the best of both worlds. It gives me patience to deal with the fact that the fire alarm will go off eventually, that I may not get that much sleep, and that I may have to deal with situations that are completely out of my comfort zone. I no longer want to be a Christian and be a RA and have them completely different. I want to be a Christian while I am being a RA. Oh yeah and I think I figured out why God put me in Parks.
Submitted by Bethany King, Resident Advisor, University of Toledo