Tag Archives: college

drinking and vulnerability

beer_10Hannah Graham is missing.

She’s a student at UVA. Went to a party. Got drunk. Got grabbed by someone and she’s been missing ever since. My heart hurts for her family. She didn’t deserve that. No one deserves to have something horrible happen to them…

But…

But…

I cannot hear about a tragedy like this without also running through the scenarios of “How Do I Avoid This Happening To Me Or Someone I Love”.

I think it’s a normal reaction…which is why I’ve been thinking a lot about drinking.

I lived 18 years of my life without Jesus. Which means I did drink and I have been drunk and I have made many poor decisions as a result of those things. The drinking I did when I was a teen was not because I loved alcohol. It was because I had an emotional hole inside of me that drinking and being foolish made me forget for a little while. I am so thankful that there were no such things as cell phone cameras or social media to instantly capture my stupidity and let it live forever on the Internet. (thankyouJesus)

I don’t drink now, at all. And this is not because I have some theological post to stand on. I don’t like alcohol. And I don’t like “losing my filter”. That “filter” keeps me from saying and doing things that are unwise, unhealthy and/or unkind. I speak too freely, and if you remember a little scripture about how no one can tame the tongue…

“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.  Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:4-5)

Seriously. The tongue is what is loosened when you drink. But that tongue loosening also brings with it this “muddy head” where you lose your power of decision making. This can mean everything from sleeping with someone to taking your clothes off to getting in a car to drinking too much to being kidnapped and killed.

Drinking puts woman at risk. Physically and emotionally.

Obviously, with Hannah’s case – we are looking at one extreme end of what could happen. But there are a thousand other things that can go wrong when you are impaired.

The Internet is full of a thousand forgotten stories and many have one thing in common – the girl was drunk.

There’s this one: a girl is raped and photos of the rape spread online. the guys thought it was funny to take advantage of the drunk girl.

And this one: a girl almost freezes to death because she passed out outside after her “friends” dropped her off at home.

And this one: a girl was assaulted by multiple boys and was documented on social media.

And for every one of the reports online, there are dozens that go unreported. Girls who wake up the next morning and can’t remember what they did or who they did it with. Countless girls who won’t talk about what happened to them until many years later at a therapy session because they are struggling with their relationships.

This is not emotionally healthy behavior. Let me repeat that. This is not emotionally healthy behavior.

Sorry to go all “Matt Walsh” on you, but I have a few opinions on the party line that our kids are (horribly and deceptively) told.

1 – “Kids Will Party” – Deal with it.

Yes they will. I am not in denial about that. But I don’t think that the kids who get blitzed at parties as regular recreation are the kind that have any kind of stellar future ahead of them anyway. CERTAIN kids will party. But those are not the role models we should be offering. There was a huge disconnect between the “partiers” and “non-partiers” at my college – and I contend, everywhere.

I came to college planing to party and was found by Jesus instead. And suddenly, my colleges goals changed. Partying lost it’s appeal. I didn’t quit because I felt like Jesus told me not to do it. I quit because I was finally whole – and didn’t crave it. I had purpose. I was fulfilled. And I believed there was something better for me.

And I’d say those things are the common denominator that separated the partiers from the non-partiers.

2 – Drink safely/Have a buddy

This is pretty much the “kids will drink anyway so as long as they do it safely…” idea. Which is pretty much hogwash, if you ask me. Have you ever tried to talk a drunk person into being reasonable and not doing something stupid? It’s kind of like trying to convince your cat to do the dishes. The mere idea that girls can safely get blitzed is flat out wrong. If you’re blitzed, your brain isn’t working correctly. It’s why we don’t allow people to drink and drive. If you’re blitzed, then you are at the mercy of the people around you. Many of which you don’t know. And having one sober person in your group is like putting one person in charge of herding cats. Basically a fruitless effort. A sober person usually cannot convince a drunk person of anything meaningful.

Getting blitzed puts you at risk. You can try to mitigate the risk, but you will not remove it, because your thoughts, emotions and brain function are completely compromised. And yes, it’s unfortunate that girls are at an increased risk. We can complain about it, but it won’t change that fact.

3 – Drinking is fun!!

I was mostly a fun drunk. I made people laugh. I got the attention I craved. I laughed a lot because everything was hilarious. For a few hours. Alcohol is a drug that makes you forget the reality of your life for a little bit. That’s why people are such heavy users of alcohol.

But the ones laughing the loudest in public, are usually also the ones who cry the longest in private.

Because no matter how many times you get drunk, it only “works” for a little while.

4 – Drinking is normal

I think this is the biggest lie of all. I had a blast in college – without getting blitzed. Just because drinking happens doesn’t make it normal and good and healthy. I could say that about a lot of things in culture today. Plenty of people smoke, do drugs, make money through prostitution (do you even realize how many girls get sucked into this world??), rob convenience stores, cheat …All of these things happen regularly in the culture. The kind of drinking that happens in college happens no where else. And the people that never grow out of that lifestyle, never emotionally mature and are essentially “stuck”. Drinking is only normal if the “partiers” are the only people who you choose to hang out with. You become like those you spend your time with. When I stopped hanging out with the partiers, I quickly got a whole new perspective. A perspective that was full of hope and purpose. One where I had a life ahead of me that I was willing to protect.

5 – Partying is a symptom of a deep emotional need.

When people engage in behaviors that are detrimental or destructive, they can usually all be linked back to a void they are trying to fill inside of them (This is Psych 101 people). This is a simplified statement, but it’s true. People who regularly party and get so drunk that they cannot function are not emotionally healthy people. Raise your standard of role models. Find people who you truly look up to and aspire to be like. If you do that, I doubt you’ll find any of those role models at a local frat party.

And here’s a confession – when I drank heavily, I was at a place in my life where I didn’t really care if I lived or died because I had nothing to live for. It’s different than feeling suicidal. It’s this difficult emotional place where you throw caution to the wind and do incredibly stupid or risky things because you don’t care. Does that fit everyone who gets blitzed? Of course not! But I bet you’ve seen girls just like that… Those are the girls I’m talking to. It’s those girls who I want to convince that there is a better way.

The answer, I believe, is not found in educating girls on how to drink safely or have sex safely.

It’s in educating girls about these facts:

You are deeply loved by God.

You are inherently valuable.

You have a purpose to fulfill in this life.

God wants to heal you and fix all of your broken places. But you have to let Him.

If you get this – deep in your heart – you won’t want to drink. Period. Not like that. You’ll have a higher purpose in everything you do. You’ll want to protect your heart, your mind, and your body because you know your own value and worth.

my two cents

~sarah~

Pray with me for Hannah’s family – and for the tireless workers who continue to search to bring her home. #notonemoregirl

off to school

This week I’ve seen many Facebook good-byes as people head off to college. When I went away to school I couldn’t wait to go. I even tried out for a sports team just so I could check into my dorm a few days earlier*. Going away to college changed my life – literally. I met Jesus at college. But I have heard some startling statistics about young people who go away to college and walk away from the faith. There are probably as many reasons for that as there are people – everyone is unique.

We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. (Hebrews 2:1)

Our faith is not something that we can neglect, ever. We have to continue to pursue God each and every day. Too many – and this isn’t just college students – think we can go off to church once a week and that’s enough to keep us spiritually strong. It’s just not. So if you’re going off to college, go with God. Make a plan on how you will stay connected to Him every day. And stick to it. God knows everything about you. He knows your strengths, your weaknesses, and what He has prepared for you to do since before time began. That’s something you can trust.

How will you connect with Him one on one? When will you do this each day?

How will you study His Word? On your own? Join a Bible Study? Work through a book?

How will you connect with other Christians? On-campus ministries? Local churches?

Every campus has lots of options to help you stay spiritually strong – no matter whether you attend a large state university or a private Christian college. Make your faith walk a priority.

~Sarah~

* You would know how hilarious and pathetic this was if you knew how completely un-athletic I was. I eventually conceded that I’d never be a jock – just a theater geek.

college & InterVarsity

I had the coolest opportunity this week and I find it so much fun when God uses social media to help connect us in ways we never dreamed.

InterVarsity is on Twitter and I had a brief interaction with whoever updates that account and mentioned that InterVarsity impacted me in a huge way when I was in college. A few days later I got an e-mail here at the website asking if they could interview me for their website and also write a guest blog.

The interview was Monday morning and while I waited for my kids to finish their swim practice, I chatted with Lauren about how God changed my life while I was a teenager away from home my freshmen year at college. I won’t share what we talked about but I will most certainly let you know when it gets posted!

But I was particularly grateful for this opportunity because the ministry of InterVarsity was how God got a hold of my heart and for that I am so grateful. It was very cool to get a chance to say “Thank you” for what they do. There are many college ministries out there on campuses working hard to point people to Jesus, but there will always be a special place in my heart for InterVarsity:-)

~Sarah~

P.S.- Wanna know one of MY dreams? I’d love to speak at Urbana. Crazy, right? Maybe someday:-)

your faith plan – part 2

So last week I asked: what does your faith look like when you’re all alone?

Have an answer?


I think that many people are very good at being chameleons. I used to be an expert. I don’t think there’s anyone out there that hasn’t done something just so they can fit into a group. Sometimes those things are stupid: like drinking, smoking, having sex. But other times, we can pretend to do good things too. Like saying all the right things at church but not really meaning them. Like being one way when when we’re with church friends and another way when we’re with “other friends”.


It’s kind of funny, but we can be as good at convincing ourselves that we’re not being dishonest as we are at trying to convince everyone else. But God sees through all of that. It’s actually why I named this blog “a naked faith” – because really, we’re all standing naked before God whether we realize it or not. He sees our real hearts. He knows our real thoughts. So the first step is always being honest with ourselves and Him before we can live a life of honesty “out there”.

When I was in college, I mentioned that God found me. I’m a pretty quick learner so I learned how to “be a Christian”. I learned what to say, what to do, and how to act. I meant it all. But there always comes a time of testing – “would I still serve the Lord if….”

The question God asked me my junior year of college was this: Will you still serve me when all of “these people” are gone? (Meaning all of the Christian friends I had made and come to depend on during my time at college).

Then comes the choice. For me, the choice came in the form of: stay on campus for my senior year or move off campus. It wasn’t a right/wrong decision. It wasn’t like one was good and one was bad. The real choice was this: would I depend on God, or would I depend on a Christian social environment? I moved off campus my senior year and like Robert Frost’s roads – it made all the difference. I got to be best friends with the Lord that year in a way that would have never happened if I had stayed in that social world of campus. Did I miss out? Well, maybe, but I know I gained something far more valuable.

Maybe you’ve already come to one of those crossroads. If you haven’t, you almost certainly will. Because God is looking for a people who will continue to choose Him, continue to follow Him and continue to pursue Him out of a deep and true love.

Are you willing to give up everything to follow Him? Are you willing to make hard choices to follow that narrow road?

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We’ll continue the “your faith plan” series each Thursday. Tune in! Ask questions! Make a comment!

Monday Manna

My family and I have been reading through the Bible this year together. It’s been a pretty wonderful thing that we are all reading the same exact thing every day. Well, all except the youngest, who at 7 years old, has been given our blessing to just read the New Testament portion of the reading plan. Two to three chapters of the Old Testament is pretty daunting at that age:-)

So as of last night we’ve just finished with Leviticus and are 2 chapters into Mark.

Do you read the Word every day?

There have been many things that have struck me about my read through this time and I’ll probably talk about them all eventually. But on this first “Monday Manna” I want to talk about why I decided to call it “Monday Manna”

When the Israelites were wandering around in the wilderness, they grumbled and complained about not having enough to eat. God told Moses,

“Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in my instruction.” (Ex 16:4)

Basically, God wanted them to go and collect what they needed only for that day (except for the sixth day where they were supposed to gather twice as much so they wouldn’t have to gather on the sabbath.) Except for that one day, they were supposed to gather and consume all of the bread (manna) each day. But as what usually happens, “they did not listen to Moses”. Some of the Israelites kept the manna till the next day and it “bred worms and became foul”.

In Deuteronomy, Moses reminds them,

“And he humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut. 8:3)

Later in the New Testament, Jesus tells us, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

The Word of God – it is our spiritual bread. When we don’t daily gather and consume what God would want to show us, then we are starving ourselves spiritually. And it must be every day. We can’t spend a few hours on Sunday and expect that bread to last us all week long. Nope – we need to feed our spirits each and every day with the Word of God.

So this week’s challenge – if you haven’t been reading every day – start today:-)