By Kyle Swart
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” –African proverb
I often like to do things alone, keep my thoughts and feelings to myself, and stay in the background. However, God, in his infinite wisdom and humor, made me 6’7” and placed me in Hospers Hall three years ago. That made staying in the background a bit tougher, but I think I’m starting to see why.
Henri Nouwen, in his book, In the Name of Jesus, encourages us as followers of Jesus to “do it together” just as Jesus did with his disciples. God has been revealing this to me during my time here at NWC through an unexpected bond with my roommate, Levi Schaeffer.
I came into freshman year pretty bummed that my roommate was going to be a band geek from some Podunk town in South Dakota who wears fedoras (based on my Facebook stalking). And I know Levi wasn’t looking forward to rooming with a stuck-up jock (my profile pic was of me playing basketball). So, I was just hoping that there would be other people in my dorm who would be “cool” that I could be friends with. However, being in Hospers means that didn’t happen. But with some time, God somehow started forming a strong friendship between my roommate, Levi, and I. I had never had a friend that I talked about faith or deeper topics with; but through going to church with Levi, bonding over our peculiar interests in soundtrack music and wolves, and just living life together as a freshman at NWC, we slowly started building a genuine friendship. It was truly God’s perfect timing for me, as I was figuring out my faith while struggling through all the ideas brought up in Christian Story 1 and 2 – not to mention living independently for the first time without the faith of my parents and family so readily accessible.
Through Levi, God showed me the value of relationship and opening up to other people about my personal faith. Since our first day on campus as freshmen, we’ve gone on a Spring Service Partnership (SSP) trip, been a part of Campus Ministry, and have gone on the Black Hills Retreat together to name just a few things. These shared experiences really pushed us out of our comfort zones, helped us grow a much more meaningful friendship, stretched us into abandoning so many of our pre-conceived judgments, and allowed us to uniquely experience God together.
So what I’ve learned here at NWC is this; it’s always worthwhile to invest in another, because who knows, that person might just become a friend. Getting involved in the Raider community can start by investing in just one person, but it definitely does not have to stop there. If I could give my freshman self any advice, I’d tell him, “Get involved in activities on campus, drop your stereotypes of the people you meet, be genuinely curious, and be willing to open up to them. They might not be as lame as you think.”
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
-Ecclesiates 4: 9-10
Kyle Swart (and Levi Schaeffer)