87:13

87:13

Don't be part of the 87 percent.
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I walked into church my junior year of high school. At this point, I had my license and began going to church alone because I found a lack of satisfaction at my mom’s church. Maybe I am wrong, but I am pretty sure this was the first time I went to church in an “adulting” way and just really had the message hit home. Being a normal teenager, I came to church, sang the songs, and grabbed my phone with the intentions of opening the Bible app and following along. Oh look, my best friend texted me; I must reply. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram look pretty tempting, too. I might as well multi-task. This, shamefully, was me almost every week.

Just as I was about to get into the normal swing of things, my pastor simply said this: 87:13. (Oh, so that’s where you got the title.) His next lines honestly shocked me, and up until last year, I thought that his numbers were a bit over exaggerated. 87 percent of the people who grew up in church or went to church in high school didn’t continue on that path when they reached college. That’s a huge number. I bet you think I am making this up, too. Only 13 percent of the people who attended church prior to college will stick with it into adulthood.

For once, I lost my desire to tune out. Considering I was a year away from college myself, I was glued to the message. I remember thinking to myself “why would people want to do that?” “I would never be like those other people.” After that message, I began to really dive into the message on Sunday mornings. In all honesty, there were are times that I still can’t make myself focus, (I think way too much) but it did change my perspective on active listening in Church.

As college time approached, I found myself torn between New York City, Alabama, Belmont University, and Carson-Newman University in East Tennessee. CNU was actually my last choice, but I know, looking back, that if I hadn’t attended there, I would have ended up in the 87 percent.

Remember earlier when I said I would never be like those people who stop attended church? Oh yeah, it’s time for that story. Here’s how college works: Class, homework, meetings, organizations, work, sleep (for like three hours), and repeat. This schedule is an understatement sometimes. After a run-run-run busy week, Friday and Saturday are spent on socializing and sleeping. It’s easy to spend Saturday night with friends up until 3 or 4 in the morning. Before we start that busy week again of no sleep, we think to ourselves that we have to get that on Sunday, right? So we skip church and tell ourselves “I’ll go the next time” or “I’ll just watch online” knowing that we have no intentions of doing either.

I spent my first semester of college in this struggle boat. I put it off until the next week and the next week after that and the next one after that. I found no interest in going because the further away I got from it; the harder it was for me to remember how much I needed Jesus and fellowship in my life.

My best friend constantly invited me to church with her, and after probably the twentieth time of being asked, I just gave in and went. And guess what happened next? I loved it. I could have (should have) slapped myself for how long I went without church because I told myself it wasn’t important. I thought that “well, I know I have a relationship with God, so He understands.” Did I really? Did He really? My relationship with Him may have existed, but I was stuck in a no progress zone. Think of that as the equivalent of dating someone but never pursuing them. You do nothing to get to know them, you never spend time with them, and eventually, that relationship doesn’t really exist. That’s kind of how I was treating God. Also, he didn’t understand. Why would he? We are told to constantly pursue Him and seek Him in all things, and here I was doing the opposite.

If you haven’t caught on to the theme of all of my articles, then I will tell you how the next part usually plays out. After learning and realizations, I still have natural stubbornness that takes me on a detour to get to the right road. So, after thoroughly enjoying this Sunday morning of church, I had all intentions of going back the next week. However, by the next Sunday, I had forgotten how much I really enjoyed it and naturally, I again chose sleep. Weeks went on like this, but eventually, God was just like “Listen Demi. Get your lazy self up and go to church.” The morning I decided to go back, I had a simple phrase come to mind: 87:13.

I suddenly remembered junior year of high school when I swore to myself that I wouldn’t turn into that 87 percent. Yet, here I was. This way of life that I thought was ridiculous had become my life. I felt so ashamed and couldn’t believe I had let myself get this far. After this, I thought of that phrase every Saturday night when I contemplated skipping. I fell in love all over again with God and His word and His way.

Recently, I asked a couple of friends to go to church with me and they laughed. They literally laughed. What’s so funny about that? Their reasoning was that they didn’t want to get up that early. They didn’t want to be up and ready by 10:30 am.

87:13 is real. It’s easier said than done. It’s taken the best of me, the best of my friends, and maybe the best of you. Don’t be part of the 87 percent. Be part of the thirteen. Let’s make that a larger number. Maybe thirty, or fifty, or maybe, if we are really lucky, 90-100.

Also, don’t just show up on Sunday mornings to fulfill your to-do list. Replying to your texts and liking Instagram pictures isn’t going to get the message across to you that God has prepared someone else’s heart to teach you. Don’t just sit there and take notes while your mind is elsewhere. Actively listen. Actively participate. Actively show up. Actively pursue your relationship with God.

Be the thirteen.

Cover Image Credit: Demi Agresta

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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If God Didn’t Intend For Women To Be Equals, Why Did She Make Us So Incredible?

Yeah, I said She.

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An article that absolutely infuriates me has gone viral. As a feminist, as a writer, and simply as a woman, it drives me up a wall to see another woman proclaiming that God's plan for women was to "submit to their husbands."

I don't know where to start with all the issues I found in reading the piece, so I'll start with what a feminist is. It's a subjective term and its connotation varies from person to person.

But to me, feminism is being empowered and expressive individuals with open minds and open hearts. They are activists for change and equality. They have concerns about the environment and global warming. They acknowledge issues within sexism and racism and then try to figure out how to solve them. They see that the world isn't perfect.

Feminists are the reason we can vote. They're the reason birth control is an option for us. They're why we're allowed to wear pants. They're why we have careers. The female pioneers paved the way for anything we're allowed to do, and they are why we celebrate the power of women every March.

But instead, the woman who wrote "I'm A Christian And I'm Not A Feminist, Because God Did Not Intend For Women To Be Equals," used our month of pride for clout. And took justification from The Bible to do it.

The Bible is not an instruction manual. It was written over many, many years by hordes of sexist men whose existence we have minimal proof of. And over the last thousand years, it's been translated and reinterpreted more times than anyone could ever keep track of. That's not to say it doesn't have some good lessons, but lessons are all they are.

Thinking your worth and capabilities were planned for you thousands of years in advance is ignorant. Religion and The Bible and God are as subjective as feminism. Everything is open-ended. One person's view of who or what God is not going to be the same as the last.

Commonly, God is seen as a man at the center of the universe who holds all existence in his hands. He is the reason why anyone does anything. He is the rule maker. And He is judging us and waiting for our every mistake.

But as a proud feminist, I've chosen to have my own idea of this holy being. I wasn't brought up in church, but I decided to believe in something much greater than myself or anything I've ever seen just because I wanted to. I want to believe that faith has to come from somewhere, and I didn't want a book making the rules for me.

Just by watching life move through time, I happen to believe God is the good in all of us. Not one being, but he beginning and the end of everything. The push and the pull. The conscious and subconscious. And considering that God is the creator, I've concluded God must be a woman because women are the creators.

And in my experience, women have proved themselves to be much stronger and more capable than any man.

As for what She creates, I think She makes no mistakes. I think She tests our patience and beliefs by giving us what we don't expect. There's intent and love in everything She gives us. I think every woman was made to be relentless, imperfect, fearless, and even a little rebellious.

And if we're saying Adam and Eve were the start of it all, then God proved that right off the bat. God saved the best for last, and then made her a badass. Yes, the first woman came into this world as a rule breaker. She questioned authority. And since the beginning of time, authority has been a snake. The world is our forbidden fruit to bite.

The sole purpose of a woman isn't to submit to anyone. A woman can do whatever she damn well pleases, just as any man. A woman's worth isn't tied to what kind of wife or mother she is and how closely she follows the rules. I was raised by the most incredible mom and wife. She did happen to stay at home with me and be the traditional woman. But while she was home, she taught me how great it is to be a woman. She made sure I knew I could be whoever I wanted and would pay no consequences for that.

My parents didn't raise me in a church. And I never saw that as a flaw or lack of judgment. My southern home was like a church; full of faith and love. But on Sundays, we would sleep in and have a big breakfast at noon because we had too much fun staying up late Saturday night dancing around our living room to music. Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, and Madonna led the choir — singing about independence and the power of being empowered as women.

As a feminist, I will not judge those who haven't accepted all the honors of being female. I can just tell everyone how wonderful it is to stand for something. I can set an example so that more women will go forward.

And despite what anyone thinks of feminism, there's nothing exclusive about it. Feminists don't think they're any better than men, they just want the chance to prove their capabilities. It's so much bigger than thinking men suck. The truth is, we should have men at our side, not in front of or behind us. And not for romantic partnerships, but as allies. The best men are feminists too. We can make this walk alone, but there's power in numbers and in diversity.

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