Hi My Sweet Wesleyans,
My name is Alli Barta, I am a BFA Film and Media Arts Major, and hail from Palm Bay, Florida. I first discovered Wesley as a three-week-old freshman after attending Cornerstone at HPUMC and seeing an ad for the Well on the back of the bulletin. From there, I asked my new friend Mollie Mulvey if she would accompany me to this “Well” and, nearly four years later, here we are.
It is difficult to sum up what feels like a lifetime of lessons in college down to one major take-away to share with you. That being said, what I wish to leave you with is something that will, hopefully, be of use to you in this particular season.
Oddly enough, I have walked through a season with similar trials as this one in my time here at SMU. Though definitely not a global pandemic with historical implications, as a rising sophomore I was required to take a medical leave of absence my fall semester of college to rehab a serious knee injury. For those of you who have already been through your freshman year, sophomore year is when you are finally starting to feel sure of your footing and have begun to make connections that will last you through the rest of your college career. For me, I had just found my friend group, I had just stopped being a terrified hermit who spent all my free hours sheltered in my dorm, and I had just become a regular, full-fledged member of Wesley. On top of all of that, it was an act of God that I was able to attend SMU in the first place. I am a first-generation college student, I am largely here on scholarship, and attending college, SMU in particular, was a fight that God put on my heart that I felt I had won. As you can imagine, going from that to nearly six months of isolation; living in my childhood home, home alone while my parents worked long hours, unable to walk, and unable to live the life God promised me; I felt as though I was robbed of my purpose and robbed of my life that I had prayed and fought in faith for.
I don’t know what you have walked through at this point in your life, but if you have not felt this way before (and are somehow not feeling it now during this international pandemic), you will at some point. It is truly inevitable. We are all attending college for a reason and, I’m assuming, all generally want to live a meaningful life using the gifts and passions God has laid on our hearts. There will come a time when a big plan falls through, your life is derailed in some way, or you are blindsided by a storm that ruins everything you feel God has set up. To be isolated from your purpose, quite plainly, sucks; but we are in good company.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with Paul who was imprisoned for the very purpose he was supposed to be living. In Philippians 2, he talks about sending his dear friend, Timothy, to the church at Philippi as he was still unsure what the verdict of his trial would be. While he hoped he would be able to travel with Timothy to see them, nonetheless, he knew that they needed someone he could trust to minister to them in person during his absence.
It doesn’t say specifically, but me relating to the feeling of being separated from my own life, this circumstance could have caused a lot of harm in Paul’s relationship with God. Restrained from serving the call on his life for serving the call on his life, and to make it worse, it was God’s chosen people who landed him in prison! They were so furious at him for extending the Gospel to the Gentiles that they made false accusations against him and the Romans had to remove him from the city to keep the people from killing him. Then, he has to send a proxy in his place when he wants nothing more in the world than to be able to minister to and care for God’s people.
I will be 100% transparent here. I do NOT want to close this chapter of my life with a proxy. I do not want to leave Wesley without seeing your faces at the last Table of the semester, I do not want to have a postponed graduation (if that even still pans out), I do not want to say I have been on my last Wesley retreat or attended my last class on campus, and I do not want to be restrained from really living this last chapter of the best four years of my life. I am so certain that Paul did not want to live this way, either. But in Philippians 3:1, Paul says “Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord”. Paul did not let his chains sour his relationship with God, instead he found a way to carry out his purpose from his chains. And this, my sweet Welseyans, is the main point I hope you get from this.
Do not let your role in your purpose become more important than the purpose itself.
Now rest assured, and do not forget: your purpose is yours. I forgot this a lot in college. I had this righteous fight in my heart for my purpose because I felt God was calling me to more than what some of those closest to me thought. My time at SMU has been threatened more than once by circumstances out of my hands, and so constantly having to fight for it made me feel as though it would be taken away from me. In 1 Samuel 9:23, Samuel sets aside a plate for Saul before he knew it was Saul who was to be king because God told him that he had someone on the way who that plate was meant for. What is meant for you will always be yours. But never let that become more important to you than what He has called you to do here and now.
My purpose was never about me. It wasn’t about me when I was alone in my house for six months, it wasn’t about me when I was producing my first feature film, it wasn’t about me when I was accepting an internship that could open the door for the rest of my career, and it is still not about me now that that internship is on the line in light of COVID-19. My purpose and God’s plans have not changed for my life and neither has your purpose or God’s plans for your life.
While this is a major historic event that, hopefully, we will never relive, there will be times when you feel isolated or cut off or like you have lost complete direction for your life. Pray through it, praise through it, turn to these amazing, God-given leaders that we have at Wesley, and hold fast to what you know to be true: God is God in the highlands and the heartache, He is for you today just as much as He was yesterday, and His love for you has never been dependent on what you can do for Him and is all about what He has done and continues to do for you.
I love you all and am praying for you. I am so eternally grateful for this beautiful ministry and the role it has played in my life these last four years. I hope your time at Wesley means as much to you and teaches you as much as it has me.
BFA ’20, Film & Media Arts
Minor in Arts Management