Used To Haikus
I used to write songs
Now I only write papers
I used to draw things
Now I only make Prezi’s
Used to hang with friends
Now I just do group projects
Used to read Scripture
Now I only read textbooks
I used to sleep great
Now I’m pulling all-nighters
Used to be funny
Joyful, creative, alive…
Now I’m in college
Feel free to use those for something…
I could definitely provide a much longer list of things that I used to do since I started going to SDC. Some I enjoyed, some I did because I had to. But all the things I did sort of made up who I was. Now I hardly do any of them. Why? Cause I’m in college.
The life of a college student is certainly a hectic one. Being in school requires a lot of discipline, time management and sacrifice of the things that we used to do. But is that how most of us operate? Do we really sacrifice the things we enjoy in favor of studying or chapel or any other school obligation?
I mean, college is the time when it feels like we can take on the world. So we try. And a lot of times we try doing so while still maintaining the same schedule of hanging out, having fun, pursuing hobbies and sleeping in. But sooner or later that just doesn’t fly, right? When the paper comes due and you haven’t even looked at the syllabus; when the quiz creeps up and you missed the class notes; when it comes time to graduate and you somehow managed to not take a whole semester’s worth of required classes… Something’s gotta give.
Unfortunately, it’s not always as clear-cut as limiting time with friends or ending your membership in the SDCC Cycle Gang. Sometimes what needs to give are things that seem good and important; Things weshould be doing. Most of us are involved in some great things, both on campus and out in the community. Some of us volunteer for churches or non-profs. Some of us have jobs, internships, are involved in sports, ministry teams, ASB… all of the above… And something has got us thinking that doing all that stuff is the way it is supposed to be. And if we stopped any of it, well, we’d be doing something wrong.
Almost everyday I talk to fellow students who are spread thin. I have friends on campus who have upwards to three jobs, are involved in multiple on-campus activities and are volunteering at churches in various capacities. All while taking eighteen units! It’s crazy… And I should know, cause up until a couple months ago, I was one of those people.
Last semester however, something changed for me. I took Theology I.
Yes, the same Theology I we all have to take at one point or another. Now you’d think that in a Theology class, something about God or the Scriptures would be the big take away. Perhaps it was some lofty theological or academic idea that enlightened my depraved and uneducated mind to bring about some sort of “Road to Damascus” change… but that wasn’t it at all.
Those of you who have taken the class with Professor Whitten know that he has his students keep a journal. This journal, rather than just another bit of busy work that so many Professors like to give, is something very unique in that it has little to do with theology. It’s simply a journal of what is going on in your life: prayer requests, struggles, triumphs… you name it. What is significant is that Professor Whitten doesn’t just check that you wrote it and give you the points. He reads them. All of them. He takes them to the beach, reads them, prays over them and then leaves comments in the margins. In my nine years of college, (yes, nine!) I have never seen a Professor do anything close to this for his/her students. Still blows my mind.
One day, Professor Whitten came in and started talking about our journals. He said he had noticed that a lot of us students were mentioning how stressed out, overwhelmed and spread thin we felt. He tabled his lecture for the remainder of class and began talking to us about spending our time on things that matter. About saying no to things that don’t matter. He also offered his “Six hours with God” extra credit assignment, in which he challenged us to spend six hours alone with God in a secluded place with no distractions and write about it. To which he followed up with, “If you’re thinking that you don’t have six hours to spare, then you need this more than anyone.” I never was able to find those six hours…
Anyways, he gave us good insights and encouragement that day. But what stood out to me most (apparently, since I wrote it down) was this phrase: “You say yes to so many things that you’re not effective in any of them.” Lord, did I feel that. At the time, I was spinning so many plates and they were all moments away from crashing to the ground. It got the wheels turning. At the end of the class he had us pick up our “graded” journals. I made the habit of reading his comments as I was leaving class. Call it eagerness, or maybe even a little bit of narcissism, but I always enjoyed reading what he had to say about my life.
Except that day.
I turned it over and in the middle of a paragraph talking about how I was struggling to make time for Jen, my wife, there it was in bright red ink: “Sounds like you need to make a change.”
Maybe these phrases don’t have as much gravity to some of you reading this blog. But for me, they were the catalyst for a lot of changes in my life. These simple comments from an unassuming Theology Professor have impacted me in ways I’m sure he may never know. Since last semester I have quit volunteering for two ministries, discontinued my involvement in a slew of activities on this campus, said ‘no’ to some pretty awesome opportunities and drastically re-arranged my work schedule in order to be effective in the things that really matter: My walk. My marriage. My family. My health. My passions. My job. My classes. If anything I do, or am asked to do, happens to interfere with those things, I choose to say no.
I still struggle to have time for everything. I don’t have all the right answers. And I don’t always succeed. But I do know that God is teaching me to prioritize, say ‘no’ to the things that don’t matter and ‘yes’ to the things that do.
Maybe one day we’ll all be able to do the things that we used to. But for now, sounds like we need to make a change.
Cody Vermillion is a Comm/Music Major at SDCC who moonlights as the Communication Specialist at his church. When not rocking the communication world with his brilliance and creativity, enjoys hanging with his amazing bride, Jen and their trusty dog, Joey.