“Lots a changes old Max, lots a changes!” In my favorite movie–the old classic version of Dirty Dancing–this quote comes near the end of the movie. The aging band director is making the comment to the also aging camp owner who is saddened by what is happening at his family camp. Max (the owner) is disheartened by the changes he has seen over the years and feels that the place is no longer as wholesome and appealing as it once had been to families.
Recently I’ve begun reflecting on my decision to stop working in Resident Life at Providence. I’ve been thinking about the first days of Providence as a student. I’m remembering showing up at the five acre campus on Philadelphia street, the welcome dinner in the café with 22 students, and the excitement and slight trepidation that seemed to be written on the faces of the staff who welcomed us. I’m remembering the arrival of the second, third, and fourth classes. I’m remembering when professors left, and new professors came. I’m remembering Mr. K talking to our class the night before graduation and telling us to take care–of ourselves, others, and our communities. I’m remembering the tears I cried as we sang “My Friends May you Grow in Grace” for the last time with the Providence body.
As I’m remembering, I’m noticing all the changes and feeling an urge to shout “lots a changes!” But I don’t want to say or think this with a feeling of discouragement nor do I want to be sad that Providence is not what it was when I came. I know that Providence is so much more than what it was when I abided in the hallowed Hesed hall.
I’m encouraged when I see alumni from Providence travel to Bulgaria, teach in China, make it through a year or two of seminary, study for the MCAT, get articles published, become involved in churches, and strive to create back home the community that they experienced at Providence. I’m encouraged to hear current students come out of class and say “you wouldn’t believe this great class that we just had on Acts!” I’m encouraged when I interview potential Resident Assistants and hear about how much they’ve been changed for the better by living life at Providence. I’m even encouraged by seeing community broken and people hurt, because I know that these are powerful learning experiences and opportunities to display God’s grace.
I’m thankful that reflecting on changes can be something that helps me see God working. Change still scares me, and I still worry about what might bring, but after seeing all the change Providence has gone through in a short six years, I’m encouraged knowing that change pushes people to re-think what they do and why they do it. I hope that when I come back and visit Providence on my 50th class reunion I will be greeted by an institution that is different from the one I know now. Yet, I pray that it will always affect students in the same positive ways, hold to the same truths of scripture, and still seek to glorify God above all.