By Ben Henker
As a preacher’s kid it was a common occurrence that I would be picked first for Bible trivia, that I would be asked about the trip that we were going on, or to be asked if we had church that night or not. But in my house, we were a family that never really spent much time reading the Bible or praying as a family. I knew growing up that I was going to church because I was a Christian, but let’s be real, I was going to church because my dad worked there and that’s what came with the gig.
To be honest, I never fully understood who God was or what he was doing in my life until I went to a retreat in the Twin Cities when I was in 7th grade (year 2012). It wasn’t until that retreat that I fully understood who Christ was and gave my life to serving him. It was something that I wanted more and craved for more. After that day I looked at my life differently. I wanted to treat others as myself. I wanted to forgive those who have done wrong to me while also living out a life of loving others. I began striving to live life as God tells us to live in the everyday, honoring my neighbor as myself (Matthew 19:19).
Though my heart came alive to God’s love for me, high school was a time in my life where I felt pretty lonely. I contemplated suicide two or three times because I struggled to really fit in and find a place to belong. It seemed as though we had four different social groups in our class, and I never really fit in with any of them – I didn’t feel sporty enough, popular enough, or even rebellious enough for these groups.
I was never able to find a true friend in my life. It was a common occurrence that my parents would tell me to invite classmates over for a bonfire or a movie, never knowing that “my friends” were actually at someone else’s place or at the movies already without me. It always bothered me to no end, knowing that they were “my friends” in school but out of school, I was never thought about to hang around with. I longed for connection, real flesh-and-blood connection. But, even though friends were far and few between and even though I was profoundly lonely, I still had this sense where I knew God had a plan in store for my life and that he was going to use me. Sometimes, as Scripture encourages us, we have to ‘wait upon the Lord.’
When it finally came time to choose a college, I was desperate for a fresh start! And now since coming to Northwestern, I’ve been so refreshed by the community here – academically, socially, and spiritually. I’ve learned that I’m not the only person that’s struggling, and that it’s okay to struggle alongside each other. Most of all, I’ve learned that the guys at North Suites have become like family. Beyond a family, it’s a brotherhood. It’s a brotherhood that’s a bit weird at times, but it’s so cool to see fortnight players, athletes, book-worms, etc. all come together as one and talk about life. It’s here at Northwestern with the guys in North Suites where I found the belonging I yearned for and for the friendships that won’t end after leaving OC; and because of the truthfulness and the love of North Suits and of Northwestern, it’s here where I found my true identity that Christ has instore for me.