The Random Update from Evan Weppler at Baylor University, Fall and Winter 2007. Oh, those were the days.
Eight years ago this month, I graduated from high school. After a summer at camp, I said goodbye to Cypress and moved to Waco, TX for my freshman year at Baylor University. I knew I would make new friends and new connections, but there were many people back home and around the country with whom I wished to stay in touch. So I decided to start sending out a semi-regular newsletter. The RU from EW at BU, or The Random Update from Evan Weppler at Baylor University. The “random” in the title came from the fact that I loved being random (still kinda do), but it also meant that I could send it out every once in a while but not commit to a schedule I couldn’t keep.
It’s fun to look back and see my first thoughts and observations from college… Fun and funny and sad and interesting and surprising and… fun. I will share some observations and pictures as I go, but if you want to read the entire RUs, click the link at the beginning of each section.
I was very eager, very excited– but also very nervous. Even in the first couple weeks, I had some hard struggles. Feeling homesick. Feeling lost. Feeling alone. But while I tried to be honest, I wanted to put on a brave front. Still do that to this day sometimes.
Each time I share about my classes– and it reminds me of things I had forgotten long ago.
I had grown out my facial hair over the summer, and it was interesting to see how people reacted to it– and to pictures of me without it. These days if I show people those pictures, at least I can say, “Yeah, that was back in high school.” But then, when they’d see my bare face and say, “You look like you’re 12 in this picture!” I’d have to reply, “Well, that was 6 months ago…”
Oh yes, and then I shaved. That was interesting…
There was my freshman dorm room. I got so settled in, I probably spent way too much time there– still do that to this day. I like my own space, my own place, my own little corner. Sometimes, it’s just hard to leave the dorm room.
One of the biggest things I wanted to find at Baylor was Community. I wrote, “I have some good friends and some good acquaintances, but I desire true community with people, close bonds, brotherhood. I hope to find a small group of reallllly strong friends and grow with them.”
Well, that’s another life long struggle, younger Evan. Sometimes you find community. Sometimes you have to make it. And sometimes you have to make do without it. I’ve been through all seasons, and it’s never easy. But when you finally have community, it’s so satisfying.
I ended with some quotes and a blessing– “Love to you all. Continue to grow, walk, and thrive. Grace and Peace. Evan Christopher Weppler.”
I always hoped that my updates could be encouraging to others, but in many ways it was life-giving to me. It let me reconnect with people. Gave me an audience and community, when I didn’t really have one at Baylor. Gave me a sense of purpose– hear the pastoral language there? I was a pretty serious freshman.
I began The RU 2 with something so terrible, yet so wonderful. A quiz.
I could remember answers to almost 5 of them, but had trouble with the last. Want the answers? Scan to the bottom of this post!
I was firmly in the University Scholars program– trying my best to be an academic, like the rest of my friends. But I never felt I fit. I liked studying certain things, like discussing certain things, but some things (Greek, Philosophy) just got less and less interesting the more complex they became. Lazy? Perhaps. But I think it was just part of finding my place.
The LEAD Living and Learning Center was my center of activity for so long. I lived in the LEAD dorms, made friends with other LEAD students, and (as you can see to the left) eventually served as a leader in LEAD, where we led others to grow as leaders. (LEAD!!!)
I do not miss the days of taking tests and quizzes. At all. Not at all.
I always tried to get responses from people– and my beard always prompted much discussion. Strange as it is.
I still try to have discussions here at EvanWeppler.com or on Facebook, but it’s hard. Back when I sent out these updates, I would attach it as an email– and I got a good amount of responses from that. Maybe I should go back to communicating through email?
I really wish I could shave my beard. But I don’t know if that’s simply because the beard represents growing up, moving on, leaving childhood, leaving home– or I just want it gone. I certainly tried getting rid of it a few times.
I wish I could say I’ve overcome all these struggles. But I can’t. You know what I can say? I don’t have to deal with Greek anymore! Hallelujah!
I was thinking about this today. How do we define ourselves? Our work? Our affiliation? Our family? Our location? How should we define ourselves? How should we describe ourselves? Hard to answer…
I also wrote in The RU 2, “I’m never living in this life… I always am focused on my future life, my past life, my “fake” life through Facebook, or other lives through TV or movies. I’m very escapist. I just want to leave the regular life and skip to my ideal life- unfortunately, that’s not what God calls us to do. He calls us to live holy lives “in the world.” I need to stay where I am and stop relying on my fake lives and just live this life…“ I have struggled with this all my life– partially comes from moving different places growing up. But while it is still a struggle, I at least know that life comes in seasons. And some seasons are better than others. Sometimes you just have to endure.
I endured that first semester. I didn’t tell many people, but I thought about going somewhere else: Wheaton, Taylor, home. Thought it would be better somewhere else. But fortunately I stayed where I was. It wasn’t easy, but it was a time to grow.
That was the nice thing about school. You lived life semester by semester. When you are out of school, life has less regular seasons. Church work has its own seasons, and they are somewhat consistent… but it was always nice to reach the end of the semester and celebrate. CS Lewis used it as an example of journey into eternity in The Last Battle: “The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”
December 2007, I saw Behold the Lamb of God for the first time. That fall I had started listening to Andrew Peterson and Sara Groves a lot– they became some of my favorite artists. From there I got involved in The Rabbit Room, Hutchmoot, and other work coming from that community.
It was also the first time I met AP. Sweet.
My friend Hannah kept me sane through the first couple years at Baylor. She was a real solid friend– and I’m so glad to hear all the good things she’s doing teaching in St. Louis.
The Beard. Always with the beard. I finally did cut it off– but you’ll have to see the next Ru to see how it looked!
It’s hard to recognize how much technology has changed over the past 10 years. In high school, I had a phone but couldn’t text. Then in college I had a phone that couldn’t access the Internet easily (this one). Now I use a phone as a GPS, a music player, for email, for alarm, for YouTube and Netflix and more.
I was very connected to Cypress while I lived in Waco. I took many trips home. Probably too many. I probably should have made more friends at Baylor (and I did). I probably should have stuck it out longer (and I did). I probably should have tried harder– and I did, when I could. But I can’t change the decisions I made. And honestly, I loved to continue the relationships I had already built.
Which is why I am excited to be back in Texas. Some of the friendships and relationships I have with people there have endured during my time at Baylor, my time at home, the years I’ve spent in Illinois. And now I’d love to foster those relationships in person, not over the phone or Facebook or every few months.
In the end, I’m still the Evan Weppler that I was 8 years ago. In many ways, I have changed. But I’m still searching for community. Still seeking my purpose. Still want to shave off my beard. And God has been with me all this time– and He will continue with me as I journey on.
Here’s how I ended my 3rd Ru: “Next semester is going to be great. I can’t wait to be back and see friends and start anew. However, I’m really just happy where I am right now. Merry belated Christmas to all, and a Happy New Years too! Celebrate the New Year God is giving you, each and every day in each and every way. Evan Christopher W.”
Sounds like a good challenge, young Evan. I’ll take you up on it.
Check out The RU from EW at BU: 4, 5, 6 for Spring 2008!
Answers to the quiz:
1-B, 2-TRUE, 3-ABD, 4-The Word (Logic, Thought, Concept), 5-A, 6-Robert Greenleaf
Hope you did well!