Fourth Year Reflection: Hannah Zachman

Hannah Zachman
Hannah Zachman

While I am ashamed to admit it in the midst of basketball season, I was almost a Tarheel. I came to Days on the Lawn four years ago with every intention of gaining closure in my relationship with UVA and committing to attend UNC first thing the next morning. I thought I had my whole life figured out. I knew what church I would attend in Chapel Hill, what fellowship I would join, and what ministries I would take part in. But on a snowy day in late March, I fell in love with UVA. As I began planning for life in the Blue Ridge Mountains, only one thing was missing from my plan: Christian community.

That evening I started a massive Google search for college ministries in Charlottesville and stumbled upon the Study Center. Even from the website, I could tell that this place was much more than a building: it was a home where growth, ministry, and community happened in and through the rhythms of university life. The Elzinga Residential Scholars Program (ERSP) was especially intriguing to me. In fact, I like to say I committed to living in the Yellow House before I committed to UVA!

While the Study Center was no doubt an answer to my prayers and my plan for life, that plan did not last long. In fact, a major theme of my time at college has been the Lord gently (and sometimes vigorously) loosening my own grip on life and teaching me to trust Him. There have been many seasons when prayers seemed to go unanswered and my plans seemed to shatter. During these times, the Study Center was a refuge and launching pad into union with Christ.

My first year, it was a place to form everlasting friendships where I learned to be real and vulnerable about my long-time struggles with body image. The Speaker Series for Women that spring semester was incredibly timely and a big part of my journey of surrendering this area of my life to God.

As a second year in the Elzinga Residential Scholars Program, I learned that the Study Center was not a place for easy, comfortable answers, but rather a place where I could come and engage with other believers and ask hard questions. While cooking dinner or washing dishes together, we discussed everything from different interpretations of Genesis to how to engage with politics as a Christian, in addition to the ubiquitous questions of vocation. This residential community was also a place to pray and mourn with my brothers and sisters in Christ when tragedy seemed to strike our community again and again during my second year.

During the climactic third year of nursing school, I spent many hours studying in the Richman Room after long days of caring for patients in the hospital. Even if I was studying inflammatory cytokines and microorganisms, I was encouraged knowing that the students studying around me were also asking questions about vocation and hoping to use their studies to bring about flourishing and justice in the world. When I had serious doubts about my commitment to serve as a nurse in the Navy, I knew that I could find a thoughtful friend or staff member to pray and talk with at the Study Center.

Now, four years after I let go of my carefully orchestrated college path, I hold onto my plans and dreams with much more open hands, excited to see what God will do with my small surrender. Over and over again, the Study Center has been a reminder of God’s faithfulness to be present with us in hard and confusing times and to transform our hearts, our friends, our neighborhoods, our universities, and our world to reflect his glory. I think I could write an entire book recounting the indescribable faithfulness of the Lord I have experienced in the last four years alone. Maybe I will someday! This I know for certain: that God is able to do immeasurably more than anything we can ask or imagine (Eph 3:21). He has certainly blown my plans out of the water and it has been an adventure of many joys, tears, and challenges.

In July, I will move to San Diego to serve as a nurse in the Navy. I am incredibly honored and humbled to become a nurse and to enter into the stories of others at some of their most vulnerable moments. I am excited to serve my country as a leader who fears and loves God. I will certainly miss having the Study Center as a home, community, and endless source of great books, but I am excited to put what I have learned into action by loving my neighbors and continuing to look for opportunities to share the gospel through the rhythms of everyday life together.

Hannah Zachman, NURS '17