Fourth Year Reflection: Sarah Macris
Wow, where have four years gone? As I’m getting ready to graduate, I’m filled with both readiness and excitement for the future as well as sadness. Charlottesville has become a home to me, and leaving it and the people here will be really hard. God has shown his care for me in incredible ways during my time at UVA, and the Study Center has played a big part in this good work.
During my time here, I’ve learned more about how community can help me see that I am dearly loved. I know that the God who knitted me together in my mother’s womb delights in me. It’s often easy, however, to feel that he is disappointed in me and to fear that he will give up on me. When I feel this way, I turn to passages such as Romans 8:38-39, which tell me that nothing will be able to separate me from God’s love: not my failures, not my weaknesses, nothing. Part of my growth in trusting God’s love for me has happened as I’ve grown to trust the love of people he’s placed in my life, who love me for how he created me. I’ve met or gotten to know some of my very best friends through the Stud. These are people who see the real me and who love me when I’m vulnerable and not put together. Lane Cowin has been my mentor these past two years, and her face has displayed the compassion that I know is on Jesus’s face when I bring him my sadness. Her time spent sitting with me during seasons of both joy and sorrow has helped me see that God can handle whatever I bring to him and that he will never leave me nor forsake me. These people, many of whom I met or got to know through the Study Center, have reflected Jesus’ faithfulness and have pointed me towards the God who sees, knows, and loves all of me.
I’ve also seen how community can help me more clearly see God. Although I don’t think that we can see God fully here on Earth, “for now we see in a mirror dimly [... and] now I know in part” (1 Corinthians 13:12), I think that together we can see a fuller picture of him than we could separately. My view of God has been broadened and deepened at the Study Center, through organized teaching—such as in Bill Wilder’s “God and Vocation” class—and through spontaneous conversations. I’ve spent many hours in the Stud kitchen talking about dozens of topics ranging from the importance of healing prayer to the role of faith in pursuing justice with those who think about or approach God and the world differently than I do. While I definitely don’t always agree with the people I talk to, these conversations have given me more answers and more questions. Talking to others doesn’t always make my image of God clearer, but it makes it richer and truer and deeper.
Leaving the Stud will be bittersweet. It’s a place where I have loved and been loved, and it’s a place that feeds and nurtures the questions that are so integral to real faith. Jesus tells us that he’s going to prepare a place for us, promising that “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3). He is preparing our true home, but until we get to see this home clearly, I think that we get glimpses of it. My time at the Stud has been one such glimpse of this coming home.
The Center for Christian Study is a place where I hope that everyone feels seen, known, and loved, as God sees, knows, and loves us. And although it’s hard for me to leave, I can do so, giving all these good things into God’s hands, trusting that no matter where I go or what I do, he is with me still. He is with us still.
Sarah Macris, CLAS '18