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    Stretch Yourself!

    College provides you with some life-stretching opportunities.

    Emily Mark

    Learning and preparing for your future.Preparation for a future career is only part of the education you'll get at college. The truth is, opportunities for learning and growing in life and faith will show up everywhere and in some of the least expected places. To give you a quick glimpse into some of the life-stretching opportunities awaiting you, we talked to six students from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

    The most defining experience I've had at college was the semester I spent living in London and traveling around Europe. The experience made me more independent but also forced me to depend on people I didn't know. The girls I lived with in London were Samford students I hadn't met before and probably wouldn't have met otherwise. But now, they're some of my closest friends. We share a unique and amazing bond. We all realized in London that there's so much more to life than the college stuff we sometimes worry about.
    —Emily Mark, senior

    God is not interested in what you are, but who you are. My father would always tell me this, but it never really sank in until my first year of college. During high school, my self-worth came from what I did, but my thinking changed when I got to college. The Lord revealed my true identity to me. I am a child of God and there is nothing I can do to make him love me more or less.
    —Stephen Briggs, junior

    When I was in junior high and high school, I led praise and worship for my youth group. I now realize I often placed emotion and feelings over substance and truth. Since being at college I've learned that my spiritual journey should be, above all, a search for truth. I've become more aware of the words in the songs and whether or not I am honest in singing them.
    —Lane Lofton, sophomore

    I began going to a Bible study with members of a different denomination. By opening up to that experience, I ended up learning so much about my own beliefs. Sometimes, fights over theology can build walls between Christians. And while I saw theological differences between denominations, I didn't let those bog me down. I have learned that we cannot treat other Christians as second-class believers because of denominational, social or political differences.
    —Deanna Stairs, sophomore

    Before I came to college, I was pretty narrow minded—especially when it came to friendships. I was quick to judge and just as quick to accuse. But when I got here, I was living and working with all kinds of people from so many different backgrounds. I soon realized that the friendship boundaries I'd created for myself were pretty silly. In fact, many different people I've come to know have taught me so much about life and friendship.
    —Mary Eleanor Wallace, junior

    I got a big shock in my very first college class. My professor started the class by challenging the way I'd thought about God for my whole life. I couldn't believe it. But despite my worry, the class was wonderful. I learned that you could discuss, explore and even increase your faith in a responsible, Christian academic setting.
    —Chad Townsley, senior

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