Liberty University is in the news a little more often than I'd like. Of course, I don't mind if the news is helping us celebrate good things, like our men's basketball being 3-0, but lately it's been more negative than positive.
A member of LU's administration was recently charged with attempted murder. A professor was arrested for online sexual exploitation of a minor in June. Another professor recently sent his students a porn link by accident.
Then there's Jerry's constant involvement in politics that make many students cringe. His Twitter is full of politics, an article with his political advice has almost 10,000 views, he let students skip classes to support Brett Kavanaugh during his hearing, and he even watched the midterm election results at the White House with Trump. The worst moment that I witnessed was when one of his favorite political speakers, Dinesh D'Souza, said the n word in Convocation.
Crimes and politics are a horrible combination to have related to a Christian university and I can't say I'm thankful for any of them.
But my school is so much more than our flaws. Liberty, both the people and the place, has changed my life and for that I am so incredibly thankful.
I'm thankful for the friends who have supported me through heartbreaks, hard classes, and anxiety, and who have rejoiced with me in a new job, new major, and new life plan. I never would have known them had we not ended up in the same classes and same dorms and for that I thank God.
I'm thankful for the professors who have done everything from rub my back while I've thrown up to proofread articles before I submitted them for publication. They have poured more time and advice into me than I ever would have expected and I am so grateful to be at a school that fosters such positive student-teacher relationships.
I'm thankful for the RAs who have laughed at bad puns and listened openly when all I need to do is process life aloud with someone. I'm thankful for the games they play to help the girls on the hall get to know one another and that they always have time for a hug. I've never known the leadership on the hall when I signed up for housing and most of them have been beautiful examples of leaders I hope to be, which I am so grateful for.
I'm thankful for the boss/professor who has taught much more than words from a textbook and typical work-place practices. Her life lessons are taught by example and I've learned how to listen, laugh at myself, and accept other's opinions of me. I am still trying to emulate her courage and I am thankful every day that I know and work for her. It wasn't a job I was expecting, but God enjoys surprising us, and I am so grateful for that.
I'm thankful for my mentor, one of my former professors, who listens and encourages better than most people I know. She's willing to talk with me about everything from politics to family problems and even when she doesn't know what to say, she is always ready to pray with me and give huge hugs. I never would have expected such a beautiful relationship, but once again God knew what He was doing, and I am beyond grateful.
I'm thankful for a campus pastor who is always seeking to start productive conversations, whether it's about a political speaker people disagree with or preaching on the seven churches in Revelation. He truly does his best to see the best in everyone and although he certainly takes opportunities for jokes, he doesn't talk crap about anyone. I'm grateful for such a positive role model on campus.
And even though his political involvement is annoying, I'm grateful for the president of my school. Jerry Jr. has grown Liberty, especially the online program, in ways his father only dreamed of. He's always happy to interact with students, even inviting them to his lake, and he's a fun person to hang out with if given the opportunity. No matter how we may disagree ideologically, I'm thankful that God has placed him as the head of our university.
I'm thankful for details about my university as well: the Women's Project original play Bloodroot: The Ballad of Clinch Mountain brought me to tears, Christmas Convocation never fails to make me laugh, Coffeehouse brims with great talent and fun every semester, the curriculum library lets me check out books that fill me with nostalgia, worship during Convocation brings me into God's throne room, Campus Community and community groups help ground me in God, and the sunsets seen from campus are spectacular.
Liberty is home. I am so thankful that God led me here and I have no plans of leaving anytime soon (hello seminary). We are not perfect. We have some flaws. But we are still a great school full of godly people. We can all be grateful for that.