By Matt Jackson, Student Body President

As a generation of students, a shared thread of anxiety is often laced throughout our stories in the long-term struggles we face. In the isolation of this anxiety, we often find a false sense of solitude, or even unity, through living in a culture of secret sin. At an institution guided by societally strict standards, this notion can feel all the more real. Feelings of shame and unsubstantiated guilt can accompany the secret sins that exist within our lives.

As a student leader, I have not been unaffected by this struggle. Various seasons of my time at Asbury have included high levels of anxiety due to the fact that I had convinced myself I was alone in my sins. During periods of working to break the cycle of eating disorders, wrestling with holy sexuality and struggling to accept my tendencies towards obsessive compulsive disorder, my immediate temptation has been to isolate myself — or, just as bad, to surround myself with friends who were content in allowing me to stay in my sin and brokenness rather than do the hard work of helping me address the root of these issues.

A reality for our generation is not to live in isolation rooted in a fear of exposure. On the contrary, it is through vulnerability in community that legitimate healing occurs. Like how an illness must first be diagnosed in order to be treated, we must also acknowledge the anxieties we face. I asked God to open up conversations I could be vulnerable in, and once I allowed myself to be honest with friends and spiritual mentors, I quickly found that God had placed people in my life as instruments for healing.

This part of the process is where I currently find myself, asking God daily to strengthen my relationships so that I may continue to press on towards a life that is full and unhindered by anxiety. Through my continuing process of healing I have found this to be our unchangeable reality as Christians: though we may face hard times, we are never called to suffer alone. While I may not often be suffering in the same way as my brother or sister, it is through a community in which a desire for perseverance is shared that I have found true spiritual healing occurs and the deepest bonds are formed.

At times I have fallen short of our community standards, but it has been through my pursuit of honest community that I have found vulnerability leads to the most authentic friendships. I desire to see us become more aware of our resources. Asbury is full of broken people seeking other broken people to enter a journey of healing with.

Our institution has developed a grace policy for individuals who wish to seek counsel for the very things that may be preventing them from fully investing in our community. Whether this be for community standard violations or for individual struggles with anxiety, Asbury’s grace policy can provide refuge for those who have isolated themselves. If you have any questions about this process, ask myself or other campus leaders about how you may enter a safe space.