I am known around here at Gardner-Webb. What I am known for (or as) varies from group to group: GRD Bell; David Bell; DaBell; Debi; Dave; that guy who sits in the caf for hours on end. Most of the people who know me now have little to no concept of who I was during my time in the undergrad, something for which I am thankful.
Now, it's not that I was some sort of crazy party-animal or rebel while studying to get my BA; in fact, I was basically just as boring then as I am now. However, I was not nearly as strong in my faith as I am now. I found a lot of my foundation shaken with the knowledge I was given in my religion courses-the obvious incongruities between text and our modern understanding; possible additions made by multiple authors to prove or maintain beliefs; etc. In addition, I didn't have a strong group of Christians to whom I could turn with all the questions I had. They simply festered in my mind and doubt became a constant friend.
For a while, I abandoned things like 'The Verge', upset at the hypocrisy that I saw throughout. I stopped going to church, no one in those churches cared about me anyway and the churches that did care about me disbanded. The Christian community on campus failed me-no one offered support or guidance because I was not high-profile. People knew I was a Christian and so figured I didn't need to hear the gospel (granted I didn't), but I desperately sought someone to help me traverse through the struggles of a daily Christian walk. I needed a mentor.
As a freshman, I sought a mentor in a good friend who was a senior-he was extremely intelligent, well-grounded in his faith, and didn't mind an idiot freshman hanging around with him. He certainly helped in the transition process from high school to college life and challenged me in my faith, but also encouraged me. However, since he was a senior, he graduated after that year and our friendship changed and I lost that support.
My sophomore and junior years I sought to find another person who could guide me and be a means of support. However, all of the people I turned to were my age or younger and had more inconsistencies than I myself had. Don't get me wrong I love these people and wouldn't trade their friendship, but they couldn't mentor me like I needed.
I did find quite a lot of guidance from professors, but there again that was in a classroom setting and not really the mentoring that I was seeking.
Senior year brought an awakening in my life. I saw freshmen who were unashamed of their faith and lived it out proudly and in your face. They challenged me in my faith more than any other person in my life-how could I continue in my apathy when faced with such a great cloud of witnesses? I needed to get my act together.
However, I certainly couldn't seek guidance from these people who were younger than myself-so rather than study under them, I studied alongside of them. There were many who were far more firm in their faith than I was, but I knew my stuff-12 years of Christian education had drilled the Bible into my head. Their passion and devotion had reinvigorated my walk; they showed me who God really is and helped remove the cynical picture that I had developed over the past two years.
I am not ignorant of the fact that I have a presence and that people value what I have to say; I have always been able to garner credence. I am also keenly aware of the fact that I must be a good steward of this gift that God has given to me; I cannot squander opportunities that I have to minister to those in need.
Ultimately, I seek to be for someone that which I so desperately sought: a mentor and friend.
Kairos-guiding moments in life,
David A. Bell