Happy New Year, sweet friends! I am SO beyond excited to share a new series with you called “Modern Christianity” where we explore what the modern christian life actually looks like— not the stereotypes people like to believe. In this series we will cover topics like how to pursue ministry over marriage, how christian girls dress, and how to be involved on college campuses without losing your faith. I have been so beyond blessed to share life with a few stand out young women of God who are living R A D I C A L L Y for Jesus. What makes them radical? Read more to find out!
The second guest writer for this series is the lovely Hadley Carter! I met Hadley almost exactly one year ago. I had just gone through sorority recruitment and my rush crush, Anna (who would eventually become my big!), asked me "have you met Hadley?" Soon, I met Hadley who was our sorority Chaplain and my experience in ADPi became radically different than I thought it would be! Hadley and the other girls in the ADPi Bible Study showed me that it's possible to be a sorority woman and live for Jesus. That you can exist in the culture, but not be of it. That in that balance, ministry and outreach exist.
I’ll start out by saying- I’m feeling nervous to be writing this. Relevancy in Christian culture is a hard topic, and there’s a lot of disagreement about how to do it correctly, so I’m nervous. I thought for the sake of the authenticity, I’d start out with that! You’re not alone if you’re feeling tension while reading this.
My freshman year of college I wanted little to do with organized faith, and ran away from anything that reminded me of rules or control. Unknowingly, I ran myself right into a sorority that had a growing faith community. I joined Alpha Delta Pi for pretty superficial reasons, I wanted to be seen and known on campus as a leader, and I saw the sorority as one avenue to achieve that goal. I still greatly struggle with this, but ADPi was the first place I started to see my value through a different lens.
I began going to ADPi bible study as a freshman. I was willing to try it out simply because it was the opposite of a conventional faith environment. It was the epitome of the most secular thing you could do in college, and it felt safe and nonjudgmental to me.
It is by far the most special, weird, confusing, wonderful thing God has allowed me to be apart of in my four years at Virginia Tech.
There is a tension that comes along with bringing faith into a community where faith is not it’s sole reason for existence. A church exists to spread faith-based ideals; so to live out those ideals in a church environment should feel more natural than it would in other places. In this day in age, sororities do not exist to spread faith. Almost immediately after attending my first few bible studies, I started to feel the tension of trying to hold faith as a value while still existing in the culture of ADPi.
Over the years, this tension is where I really started to see God’s light shine through. Like any group of women, us ADPi gals really struggle with perfectionism, competition, and wanting to appear “put together” even when we feel torn apart inside. Getting just the right Instagram picture is far too important to us. If this culture of achievement manifests itself for long enough, it can really do damage to the heart and mind.
By existing in this environment as a Christian, you have the ability to speak Truth to the lies that are created from insecurities and fears of not measuring up. In a community where women feel like they are constantly being evaluated and assessed, being told that in actuality- they are loved, precious, and valuable can truly change the game. That’s what changed the game for me.
In order to spread that message effectively, and to not fall into that culture, the tension has to be felt. There will always be a tension of being in the culture, while still remaining distinctive from the culture- and that’s okay. Jesus is the only one who ever did this perfectly, He came into the world looking relatively normal, but at the same time changed the entire world. He held that tension, He knows that tension, and He will walk with you through that tension.
I believe the beauty of His message of love and sacrifice is truly found within the tension.
So, if you’re in that place, if you’re feeling that tension, I’m right there with you. One of my goals after graduation is to find communities where that tension can be held just like it’s being held in ADPi. I am confident Jesus shows up in those places with us, helping us hold up the tension along the way.
I think the tension that she talks about is exactly where we should all aim to be! We shouldn't be huddled up in our churches waiting for someone to accidentally wander in, but rather out in the world living amongst those we are trying to reach. We can't be "set apart" if we are never amidst those we are supposed to be set apart from! Hadley is such an inspiration to me and so many other girls in the greek community at Virginia Tech on how to be a light in a place labeled by darkness. If you'd like to read more from Hadley you can follow her on Instagram (@hadleycarter) or on her blog at happyhcblogs.wordpress.com, but is temporarily not live so check back later!
Hadley is a member of HOPE Church in Richmond and attributes her standpoint on Relevance to her church! If you'd like to hear the original sermon, you can listen to it on HOPE Church's podcasts!