Hey Wesley! My name is Emily Shelton, and I just finished my sophomore year at SMU. In these two years, I’ve made many changes in my life…surrounding myself with new people and experiences. I changed majors and went from the STEM field to finding a true passion in Art History. I started growing out my hair and embracing the very present brunch culture Dallas has to offer (I know what you’re thinking…longer hair and brunch aren’t REALLY BIG changes). However, I knew that I would experience change at SMU and that I would not leave as the same small town Waco girl that I came in as. What I didn’t know was that my relationship with Christ would take a dramatic turn. I realized I had lived my life as a convenient Christian, and I have decided to become a true Christ-follower.
I went into SMU excited and nervous which are good and normal emotions, but instead of letting the nerves and adrenaline pass I kept feeding them.
I have realized that college is a place where you grow, and you grow whatever you feed.
I began to feed insecurities looking at the sorority rush process wondering if I was pretty enough or had enough money to be involved in it. I doubted myself because of earthly things. Those stresses carried over to school. I stopped being able to eat before tests or presentations because I got so nervous that I would make myself sick. The narrative I was telling myself was that I wasn’t good enough and that my worth was defined by the world. I fed my insecurities and worries so that’s what grew. While I was busy focusing on myself, God was still working. He was chipping away at my stubborn heart and was preparing for the work He would do in my life during these crazy times. I had a plan that I was fighting so hard to make right. I was going to graduate a year early, and I had it all mapped out. Then, the corona virus hit. God put brakes on my life. I am not ignorant to the stresses and worries this has caused so many, and my heart aches for those people. However, God is still growing good things and working in people’s lives through these times of tragedy and despair. My trials are nothing compared to others, but everything I put my value in was removed from my life when I had to quarantine in Waco. It made me realize how I was defining my worth and how I should define my worth. God took me and all the worries and ideas I had about my life and removed them. I began to make slow changes. I always enjoyed the catchy beats of the top hits on Spotify filled with vulgar rap and pop music so when I first started trying to listen to more worship music the soft melodies were not exactly what I wanted to dance to in my car. I found the (yes, I’ll admit it) kinda cheesy playlist on Spotify called Holy Hype. It’s fun, it’s catchy, and most importantly no matter how silly some of the lyrics are I began feeding myself with positive God-honoring lyrics. What you feed grows, and my relationship with God has been rapidly growing.
I talked to Sarah Beard at my low point of quarantine, when I felt everything about my life was being taken away from me. I knew it was right in my heart, but it was still painful. Now, a few months later, I spoke on the phone with Sarah with my heart filled with a joy and peace I have never felt. I wake up each day actively wanting to pursue Christ. At first, it was hard to want to pick up my Bible and read, but as I continued to grow in Christ my worldly value has fallen away. I clung to these verses which I now read anytime I begin to worry.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.Philippians 4:6-7
I feed myself with Christ, and my love for Him and all His creations, including myself, has grown. God used Wesley and the people in Wesley to prepare me to be radically changed through Him during this time. Although this major turning point for me happened while I was in Waco, I am very aware of the way God used Nights of Worship and Wesley retreats to get me to look to Him. My focus is finally staying on God, and I can’t wait to get back to SMU and grow His Kingdom with y’all.
Wesley Retreat Fall 2019- The moment when God made me question who I was living for.
– Emily Shelton