As we entered our last week of SAUP, we focused on debrief and re-entry. Building up to this week most of us were really sad that SAUP would be ending so soon. I remembered back to the beginning of SAUP when I couldn’t believe that I’d be spending the next six weeks with this group of students and staff. Now we were counting down the days until we had to say goodbye to the kids at our ministry sites and then to each other. I really enjoyed sharing and hearing stories of what we had learned, how we experienced God this summer, and the times we shared with our ministry sites.
I struggled with understanding the potential conflicts between what we have learned at SAUP and how we lived our lives before SAUP. I thought it would be so easy to transform my life to incorporate what I had learned at SAUP. After being back in Austin for a few days, I have realized that re-entry is no joke. There have been so many little things, like buying deodorant, that before I wouldn’t have given a second thought but because of things I have learned during stewardship week, I spent over an hour researching deodorants to see which brand is the most ethically made.
We focused on answering the following questions:
- 1) How do you plan to incorporate what you’ve learned at SAUP into your daily life?
- 2) How do you plan to share what you’ve learned at SAUP on your campus/in your chapter?
- 3) How was your summer?
This last question was the hardest one for me to answer. How do you condense 6.5 weeks of both fun and hard experiences to simple answer that last question? There was so much that I had learned and experienced that it would probably take me a few hours just to share the big things from this summer.
The most important lesson that I learned while at SAUP was the importance and value in having a deeply rooted relationship with God. With that relationship comes a strong confidence in your identity as a child of God, that is something I was lacking entering SAUP. To build this rooted relationship with God, it requires time and effort, spiritual disciplines, similarly to building a good and healthy relationship with another person.
Another big lesson that I learned at SAUP was living in the gray. What I mean by this is that you can’t live your life in extremes. Situations are never just black or white but they are gray, you also can’t have gray without black or without white. We must have a combination of personal piety and social action. To pursue God’s true vision of justice we must see the brokenness but also hope that Jesus brings. We must stand with and defend the oppressed but also pray for the oppressors. Living in the gray is no easy task, it requires faith but also actions.
The last major lesson that I learned while being at SAUP is that God and His Kingdom are present and at hand. The Kingdom of God is a futuristic promise but it is also available to everyone right now. God cares about the brokenness of this world, the oppressed, the lost, the hurting, the forgotten, etc. God’s heart hurts. God is actively working in these areas of brokenness even though we may not see it with our eyes, I now know for a fact that God is working.