Rush is going on at my Alma mater this week and it’s caused me to reflect on my college years and many rush memories. I can’t help but remember it distinctly from both sides. I remember rushing as a naive freshman girl and being in a sorority (social club, for all the Ouachitonians out there). Then having rush parties in the following years for some naive freshmen girls.
Whatever college you’re at, rush and pledge weeks tend to be a time of cold, hard reality. I’ve seen a lot of tears, a lot of pressure, a lot of confusion and hurt from girls trying to navigate their way through a world that is “all Greek to them.”
The whole process of joining a sorority can sometimes further ingrain the patterns of world into a girl’s mind: You go to rush, see a lot of smiles and feel some warm fuzzies. You feel important, but at the same time you feel pressure. Pressure to say the right things, have the right answers, be charming and witty and prove yourself. Some girls get by without batting an eye; some girls don’t stand a chance.
If you prove your worth enough in round one you, you get invited back for a few more nights of the same. If not, you have proved to yourself and to everyone else that you are not good enough. “Not right” for this group. “Not [insert sorority name here] material.”
For those who make the cut, it’s still far from over. Making it means you go through a period of pledging. A time of being mistreated in order to prove your worth. In order to prove that you can handle it, that you are strong enough, that you have it together. This mistreatment is at the hands of the girls who were your best friends during rush week. The girls who will soon become your sisters. The girls who went through the same thing last year (which seemingly makes it okay).
If you survive, you’re in, and at the bottom of the totem pole until rush next year.
Like I said, preparation for the real world. Cold. Hard. Reality. Because in the real world, you will have to prove your worth and you will be mistreated until you do. You can survive and become part of that world, or you can slip into glitter-less, chant-less, sister-less oblivion.
And then there was Chi Rho Phi, my sorority.
Which was completely different.
As a freshman girl, it was a relief. Their rush parties were not as impressive and polished as some of the others. The girls weren’t quite as smiley. It wasn’t as cutesy. It wasn’t as put together. There also wasn’t a sales pitch. I felt no pressure. There weren’t any questions I felt I had to answer right. There was real conversation. They prayed for us and worshiped with us.
They sent back invitations to a lot of surprised girls. A lot of girls who didn’t get invited back to any other parties. Girls who didn’t do well around big groups of people. Girls who didn’t quite look right or quite act right. Because Chi Rho Phi didn’t have a certain look or a certain personality. You couldn’t have gone through the line-up of freshmen girls and picked out who was going to be part of Chi Rho Phi.
When I pledged, everything we did was constructive, for the purpose of serving others and building community. It was fun. The other members cared about us. They served us. They made sure we got enough sleep and weren’t stressed out. I was actually friends with my pledge mistresses.
And when rush came around the next year and I was on the other side, nothing had changed. I got to see and be a part of the heart behind the whole thing. I actually cared about these girls and so did everyone else. I saw why we invited some girls back and not others. I got to serve and mentor and care for them.
I also learned to get along with, work alongside and lead others in a way I never had before. We were all so different and unity didn’t always come easy, but we worked at it. And we saw girls emerge as leaders that we never thought would have, we saw friendships form that we never thought would have, we helped each other grow and become more Christ-like through discipleship and encouragement.
So of course there was a stigma attached to Chi Rho Phi. We were almost looked down on for being inclusive, for being accepting, and for not hazing. I heard all the criticisms. That we had girls in our club that didn’t have it all together and didn’t all look the same. That we invited so many girls back because we were desperate for the numbers. That our pledge week was easy which gave way to uncommitted members who wouldn’t stay for the long run. I’m not going to pretend this didn’t bother me for a while.
It bothered me until I realized that my sorority was giving me and many others a glimpse into the Kingdom of God.
I’m not trying to put anyone on a pedestal, or for that matter, tear anyone down. I’m sure others have had similar experiences in the sorority world. I’m not trying to show sorority pride, either. You can get a glimpse of His Kingdom almost anywhere. I simply had the unlikely circumstance of seeing it in my sorority.
The Kingdom of God runs in such an opposite direction from the kingdoms of the world. While we try to prove ourselves in this dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest, only-the-strong-survive world, God is choosing the weak to shame the strong, He is choosing the foolish to shame the wise. He doesn’t choose anyone who has what it takes, but rather lets everyone know that no one does on their own. Those who can accept that come and are a part of it.
And once you’re a part, you’re a part as much as anyone. No one is above anyone else and no one is more worthy than anyone else. And you’re a part of it with this group of people who you don’t pick yourself. But you become unified with them, and you help each other and depend on each other and really, truly love each other.
The patterns of the kingdoms of this world are everywhere. I have too often found them in churches and places of ministry. We see and hear them everywhere and are often tempted to be absorbed into them. But occasionally, you might find a little microcosm of the Kingdom of God in everyday and unusual places. I have been blessed to see the heart of God working through this group of women and I know that as rush week goes on, many other girls will share that same blessing.