Spring Retreat | Thoughts from Students

Let’s hear from a couple of students about their time at First College Ministry’s Spring Retreat and how the Lord spoke to them in regards to relationships of all kinds.

Josh Hinson | Senior

“Regardless of the topic discussed, I always enjoy going on retreats such as this one. Leaving
behind school and work obligations, and separating myself from my usual routine, if only for a
few days, consistently proves to be beneficial in more ways than one. It provided a great
opportunity to re-evaluate how I have been doing since the last time I slowed down enough to
take notice, which was probably Christmas break if I am being honest. It afforded time to rest
and simply enjoy where I was, and the people I was with.

In examining relationships, I was most impacted by our talks about the relationship between a
child and their parents. Just as with friendships and romantic relationships, almost everyone was
approaching this topic with different experiences and viewpoints. It was somewhat sobering
reflecting on the way that I have related with my parents since leaving for college. I noticed that
I am quicker to share important things going on in my life, or problems I have, with my close
friends than with my parents. Sure, some of this can be attributed to my growing sense of being
an independent adult. However, regardless of how much I feel that I can handle things on my
own, I have been fortunate to have two Christ-following parents who have unconditionally loved
and supported me for 21 years, and I need to better appreciate them. Too often, my view of my
parents is almost entirely based on their relationship to me. I neglect that they have their own
goals, fears, and interests outside of me. So I’m resolving to know them better as friends as I
start to transition to a different stage of life. I want to do better at being attentive to what is going
on in their lives, and encouraging them in any way that I can. Because as prominent and
demanding as the role of a parent is, and they have far surpassed what I could have hoped from
them, the whole of their identity cannot be summed up as “mom and dad.”

In some respects, this trip was like many others before it. I met several new people, spent more
time talking to those I didn’t know as well, and continued to build deeper relationships with my
closer friends. I was reminded, that while some generalities can hold true, there is a vast number
of differing opinions and approaches to both friendships and dating relationships. This variety is
certainly a beautiful thing. My views may be right, or at least helpful, some of the time.
However, I have to grasp the idea that surely my way of seeing things is not always the best, or
most glorifying to God. So with that in mind, I am learning to become more open and thankful to
hearing and considering the ideas of others in regards to relationships. If anything can be said
about our discussion Saturday night, it is that men and women alike often feel misunderstood,
and that communication can be improved. Knowing that many of us have different ways of
communicating and expressing ourselves, it becomes increasingly vital to put forth greater effort
to understand those that we are in relationship with.

It can be easy to cast blame for problems in our relationships when things don’t go as we
planned, rather than taking any look at ourselves and our own actions. Personally, I will seek to
better live out the example of humility highlighted in Philippians 2.

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the
Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same
love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in
humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own
interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in
Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to
be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant.”

Sarah Lilley | Junior

“As someone in a long-term relationship, I typically have people seeking advice from me.
And while yes, I have been with the same person for four years, they are the only person I have
dated, and we have lived hundreds of miles apart for over half of the relationship. Therefore,
I do not have a wealth of knowledge to pull from that I sometimes think people expect me to
have. I know I still have a lot to learn, whether it is about romantic relationships, friendships,
or parental/mentor relationships. Because of this, I was very excited to learn more about

relationships – specifically, how to make God the focus. When I heard this would be the

topic of Spring Retreat, I was curious to hear what we would be learning as there are so

many ways the weekend could have gone, from a purity seminar to a thoughts and feelings

therapy session to everything in between.
Retreats are always my favorite weekends of each semester, because the time away from
school/work/responsibilities and living in close quarters with 20-30 of my favorite people
gives me a chance to refresh and reset my priorities, while allowing me to grow closer
with God and the people that He has blessed me with.

This weekend was no different!
The sessions that the girls had at our house were great. We have some truly wise women in
our church who were able to join us. Hearing from these women who are older than us and
have had more life experiences was very helpful, not only because they could give us
advice, but because they are living proof that God gets you through the rough patches. For
example, I’m obviously not married, so I know nothing about the millions of new situations
and problems that arise when you transition from dating to marriage. Renae (our college
minister’s wife), on the other hand, obviously is married, and shared with us instances
where either she or Rob failed in some way in their marriage, which usually stemmed from
forgetting the qualities that God calls us to have. She reminded us that we can learn so
much from these moments and how to better love and approach things in a gentle
manner. It was reassuring to hear from these women, whose faith I admire, that even they
still run into trouble sometimes, as we are still sinners trying to relate to other sinners. We
fall short, but the Lord is faithful even still.

Now for the most talked-about part of the weekend… Saturday night. Woo!!! We combined
both the girls and guys for one large session. I’m not sure about everyone else, but this
combined session was incredibly enjoyable for me. I’m always sucked in by article
headlines such as “Here’s What He’s Really Thinking When He *insert action here*,” so
I was jumping at the chance to hear firsthand what all these boys are thinking. And well, we
found out… that even they usually don’t know what they’re thinking. *facepalm*
Just kidding… mostly. This night was informative for both groups because each showed up
with a list of ten truths, or things we want the others to know, and five questions for the
other group. The girls definitely had fun creating our list, but none of us knew what to expect
from the boys. As women, we typically think we are already in tune with others thoughts, so

we were really expecting some legitimate insight into the mind of the male gender. When we

heard things like “we don’t think about the future the same way you do,” there was a
collective, “well DUH!” heard all around the room. Please. We already knew that!
But that in and of itself was a lesson for us girls about expectations. I’m not going to

say that we should lower them, because we should always have high standards for a significant other,

but maybe we should change or shift them. Yes, it would be nice for guys to be better
at planning, but Jesus didn’t walk around with a planner that mapped out every day of his life.

Why should we expect that of the average guy? Like the guys so plainly put it, they don’t know

what they’re doing. We should give them grace.

That is SO HARD though. Sometimes, when you are flying home from Disney World, you
just want your boyfriend to surprise you at the airport. Is that so much to ask? I caught
myself on this train of thought after hearing Sophia’s wonderful story, and I was reminded of
a verse we had talked about just that morning. Colossians 3:12-17
As the chosen people of God, we are called to have compassion, kindness, humility,
gentleness, and patience. We should have these qualities at all times, but especially when
interacting with those closest to us. They should be the easiest to treat well, but sometimes
it can be the hardest because we take them for granted. I felt convicted talking about this
verse because out of that list, I don’t know if there is even one quality that I can claim as a
permanent part of my personality. Yikes. I’ll be working on that.

Rather than learning about what I need/deserve in a relationship, the most valuable thing I
took away from the weekend was learning about others and what they need/deserve. I was
gifted with two lists of things that people in the ministry think are generally true about
themselves. This, combined with what I learned from the rest of the weekend about
relationships, will prove so helpful to me as I attempt to listen and give advice to friends. So
yes, while a long distance relationship seems like a curse, I am choosing to view this
season as a blessing. It’s a chance to take the focus off of my own love life and put it onto
my other relationships. Not having a physical boyfriend here gives me so much free time,
and what better way to spend it than showing Godly love to the people who are physically
P.S. The funniest part of Saturday night was the discussion about friendships vs.
relationships between guys and girls. No one got a clear answer – do we still hang out one-
on-one or not, do we do this or that, can we hug or do we stand apart? We did learn that we
had better not ask someone of the opposite gender how their test went, or else. This entire
conversation was hilarious to me, and I think the lesson is to just be open and honest about
your intentions. You like someone? Don’t hope they catch on, just tell them. (ahem… guys.
Y’all are confusing.) This fits in perfectly with a verse that I’ll end my ramblings with. I hope
it gives you a little chuckle.

“There are three things which are too amazing for me,

four which I don’t understand;
The way of an eagle in the sky,
The way of a snake on a rock,
The way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a young woman.”
Proverbs 30:18-19

Rob Nicholes
Rob Nicholes