The Beauty and Blessings of Commuting - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)
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Everyday Living Faith
August 7, 2019

The Beauty and Blessings of Commuting

When I first started commuting to college, I didn't like it at all. I felt like I was missing out on the "college experience." I hated waking up early to drive into school. I was tired of bringing my own food. I grew irritated at planning when I would get picked up and when I would get dropped off. Let's just say that during that first year of college, I was rather discontented with my commuting destiny.

But something happened my second year. Slowly, God worked on my heart and opened my eyes to see the beauty and blessings of commuting. As time wore on, the complaints turned to praises as I realized the opportunities I had that other students could not experience.

First off, I realized that I absolutely love spending time with my family. As I walked through the freshman dorms, the phrase "I miss my family" bounced off the walks, each lament culminating into a soft mournful cry for fall break when families are reunited in joyous ecstasy. Not for me! 

Each day, I have the blessed opportunity to return home for an evening with my family. No homesick weekends. No tears for friends and family far away. Being the second oldest of nine children, there are so many memories I want to build with my brothers and sisters; there are so many milestones that I do not want to miss. Commuting allows me the flexibility to do those things while earning my degree. 

Yes, I may be forced to live through my family's yearly round of strep throat, but going to the apple cider mill, playing games, celebrating birthdays, watching plays, going to athletic events, etc. make the sore throat worthwhile.

While I may not be missing home, many college students do, especially freshman. Therefore, commuting is a wonderful opportunity to lift the spirits of my downhearted pals. It is as easy as saying these five simple words: "Why don't you come over?"

Spending quality time with my family may be the perfect anecdote for this ailment, called homesickness. My family may not be their family, but sometimes, just being in a relaxed, cozy environment surrounded by children and animals is just close enough to home. Although an invitation might not seem like a big deal to me, it could seem like the world to an international student who hasn't seen home in three years. Who knew commuting could make such a world of difference?

"Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold" (Joseph Parry). The friendships I have made in college are certainly golden. During my time here at Geneva, God has blessed me with friends who laugh with, cry with, study with, encourage and love me. While I wouldn't trade these friendships for anything, I also cherish my high school friendships dearly. Though old and tarnished, these friendships, started long ago, are pure and precious. Making new friends is a marvelous opportunity in college, but continuing past friendships from high school is a wondrous blessing. 

Without commuting, this blend of old and new would not be possible. Instead of building "text friendships," I can visit old friends on the weekend in person; I can talk to them face-to-face instead of screen-to-screen. Simply put, commuting gives me the flexibility to make new friends while keeping the old; it allows me to appreciate both silver and gold.

I know I said earlier that packing meals is tiring, but once you get the hang of it, it isn't that bad. The first week, the commuter chorus bellows forth, "I HAVE to pack a lunch???!" There are benefits. Soon, your lunch box starts sounding like an Amish dinner menu: garden carrots, butter potatoes, homemade meatloaf and a soft dinner roll, fresh from yesterday's oven. 

By the end of the semester, you have to lock your lunch box as residents attempt to steal grandma's Christmas vanilla cinnamon cream cheese pound cake with strawberries, made gluten free just for you. As meal swipes at the cafeterian begin to run out, students' mouths water as they overhear you talking with your commuter brother about driving home for the evening meal. Watch out; you never know who will end up in your back seat!

Lastly, I love commuting because I am able to attend my home church. The body of Christ is diverse, spreading around the globe. However, there is something special about the individual church I attend. It is familiar. It is where I have grown as a Christian, where I have poured into others and have been pouring into by others. It is a place of relationships, a place where I have built friendships. It has impacted my life. As a commuter, I have the opportunity to continue to grow, serve and build relationships at my church. I have the opportunity to impact others as I have been impacted.

During high school, I attended my youth group, where I not only socialized but was continually sanctified; I was continually learning about the Word of God and growing in my relationship with Him. Now, as a college student, I have been able to give back to the youth group by being a youth leader. I am blessing current youth group students as I have been blessed through the years. Ministering to even my own siblings, who currently attend the youth group, I have seen that commuting has been such a blessing because it allows me to give back to the church that has invested immensely in my life and it enables me to strengthen relationships within the body of Christ that I have come to love dearly.

I love spending time with my family, I can offer a home to those who are homesick, I am able to make new friends while keeping the old and I have the opportunity to invest in my home church. Oh, and who could forget mom’s savory homemade meals? My attitude towards commuting has been transformed from complaining to praise. I am joyous. I am content.

Geneva has many opportunities for commuters to get connected on campus, including a commuter club. To learn more about the club, email clubs@geneva.edu or visit the Center for Student Engagement in the bottom level of the Student Center. 

-Olivia Forton ‘19

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash