July 13, 2015

worth staying

There has been a lot of pain surrounding me recently. I work at a Christian university and unfortunately, our school has been making the news over the past four months for some really heavy, difficult, and heartbreaking things. This university isn’t just a place of employment for me: it’s my home. When I was a junior in high school, I stumbled across an add for this university in a magazine. I had lived in California for my entire life, but something about moving to another state for college seemed really exciting. I ended up deciding to spend time at a community college and when it came time to transfer, I decided to visit this school. I didn’t have my heart set on coming here, but I thought it would be fun to visit. From the moment I stepped on campus, I knew I was home. I can’t even describe the feeling as anything but instantly having an overwhelming sense of peace that everything was as it should be. In August of 2009, my parents and younger sisters brought me out to Idaho. While it was hard saying goodbye to them when they left, I knew that I was in the right place. I knew I was exactly where God wanted me. 

I spent two years studying, experiencing life, and growing at this university. The time I spent in the classroom, residence halls, around campus, and in the community was entirely transformative. Fast forward to 2015: I’m getting ready to begin my fourth school year as an employee for the university. In March, I’ll be finishing my graduate degree. This however-many-acre campus is where I live, work, and study. So much of my life is wrapped up in this space and in the people who also call it home.

In times of hardship, my first reaction is to run. I’m really good at always having an escape plan. When things become difficult, my first thoughts are how I can get out of the situation. When things started unfolding in April, I wondered why I was still here. What am I doing? Why would I subject myself to being surrounded by such negativity and sorrow? I was talking to one of my dear friends the other day about what had been happening at our home and he said, “We are closing a very sad and strange chapter. I think for me, I just have to mentally commit myself to being part of the solution moving forward.” We talked a bit more about reconciliation and redemption. That hit me like a ton of bricks. It wasn’t about the pain, it wasn’t about the sorrow, it was about saying, “Look, I know this is hard, but it’s worth it to stay and rebuild."

Staying and being part of the solution doesn’t mean disregarding what has been done. For me, it means looking right into the face of it, acknowledging it, feeling whatever I need to feel about it, and saying, “Okay, what do I do with all of this?” To me, that means weeping with those who have been hurt, but it doesn’t mean staying in that place of pain. I know that staying in the pain is dangerous. It allows things to fester, and when that happens, I become obsessed with my pain in a way that keeps me distanced from God and goodness. I do not say that to discount what anyone is feeling or the pain that they are experiencing. I don’t say that to smooth over what has happened and propel everyone forward. Everyone grieves in their own way, but for me, I know I can’t remain in the grief, anger, or sorrow. 

God has made it very apparent to me since the moment that I stepped onto this campus as a prospective student that I am supposed to be here. This place, although currently devastated, is so beautiful and special. The staff and faculty give everything they have to the students that decide to call this place home. The Lord works here, both in people and through them. This is a place of transformation. By no means is it perfect, but it is good, and that is because of the humans that compose the heart beat of this place. Even though my natural reaction is to run, I’m learning through this experience, that staying is good. I’m choosing to plant myself here, for however long the Lord calls me to be in this space, and I promise to be a part of the solution. 

Regardless of what has happened here and will happen here in the future, I believe in this place. I commit myself to moving forward, through the brokenness, and being a part of reconciliation. 


  1. Great words, Jess. Thanks for your commitment and love to your girls.

  2. This is exactly how I USED to feel about NNU

  3. Thanks, Jess. For Navert or anyone else that feels that way, please don't throw the baby out with the bath water, just because some people messed up. It happens. But God is bigger than all our wrongs and messes. This is still His school. There are still really, really, wonderful and caring people that work there, staff & faculty.
    Lives will still be transformed there. NNU and all that are involved with her, need prayers, not criticism. God have mercy on all of us. If not for the Grace of God.......where would you and I be?

  4. Thanks Jess for your comments. I have been around this place for many many years as a student, faculty member, administrator, etc. I have seen ups and downs but always have kept in mind that this is really God's place no matter how many times humans mess it up. I am leaning into that truth for the days ahead and pray for redemption of the sadness, sorry, and sin.



Blog design by Get Polished | Copyright Jess Novello 2016