by Madison Franks, Student Writer
I began my time at Providence in the fall of 2020. Due to COVID restrictions, all my classes were put online. I spent my first year of university in my bedroom at home, staring at a screen for more time every day than actual faces. Because of this, I was unable to fully grasp just how much I was missing by not being in person, namely community.
I am a person who thrives in community life. I believe that God is a relational God, and as such I believe He wants us to be relational too. When I began my second year at Providence, I came into it not expecting my desires for community life to be satisfied. This was not because I had any doubts about whether Providence had a good community within its walls, but because I thought the community would look very different for me as a commuter.
Let’s just be honest – most of the fun things about a university happen in dorm. There is something special about living in close quarters with others. You can wake up and see many of your favourite people before you even get to lunch. If you don’t mind sharing, you suddenly have access to 10 new wardrobes. You can stay up late chatting about both the theological questions you are wrestling with and the funny things your professor said in class that day. Community is exciting and messy and necessary. It is also difficult to come by as a commuter. So, how did I do it?
I am fortunate enough to keep the company of people far wiser, kinder, and funnier than I am, and I met a lot of them at Providence. “But Madi,” you may be saying, “how did you come to keep their company?” Well, my fine friend, allow me to bestow upon you the secret of finding community life (commuter edition).
Picture this: It is a hot September day. I am walking past the Henry Schellenberg Memorial Garden on the Providence campus. I notice a girl sitting on a bench behind the hedges who I met the night before at the Welcome Week bonfire. She is reading a book, so I, being the considerate person I am, walk up to her and interrupt her. Prior to the interruption, I had thought to myself, “No, I shouldn’t interrupt her. She’s probably doing homework!” But interrupt her I do, and she becomes one of my closest friends.
This is a small story, but it illustrates my secret of community life perfectly. You have likely heard it said that every relationship starts with a “hello.” I am here to inform you that this is quite true. When we are not afraid of rejection (or interrupting someone’s homework every now and then), we can step out in boldness, resting in the comfort of the knowledge that people are a lot more friendly than we think they will be.
Community begins when you step out. That is the big secret. I may be in my car for hundreds of kilometers each week, most of which are spent on ice-covered highways with blowing snow so thick you can barely see, but it is all worth it knowing there is a group of people I am driving toward who are absolute gifts. Providence does an excellent job in promoting community life, and they do it for two good reasons: because it exists and because we need it.
Friends, life gets a whole lot easier to manage when you have others to share it with. The community at Providence points me to Jesus and encourages me to live for Him, and it is my desire that every commuter would experience this. If you are a commuting student and are thinking to yourself, “I just don’t think I’m bold enough to step out and interrupt anyone,” come interrupt me in Muriel Taylor Hall and I will help you meet some of the best people.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them” (Matthew 8:20 NRSV).