Rachel Hutto – Before & After
Short Stories By Jesus Series
Our fall worship series was entitled Short Stories By Jesus, in which we were looking at Jesus’ parables, especially some of the most problematic ones. We enlisted the congregation to write Before & After stories. Each Sunday one member shared a story in which there was a before and an after, and after which, many things in his or her life changed dramatically. Here is one of those stories.
Rachel Hutto – Before and After
According to the Census Data Bamberg, SC is home to approximately 35 hundred people. My graduating class was about 100. Not the tiniest place on the map, but certainly a smallish community that is clustered amongst other smallish communities in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. A predictable little place where the world moves at that small town pace. My parents went to the same high school I did. I was born in Bamberg and lived there until that thing happened – high school graduation. When deciding on what would come next for me, my dad unassumingly and in passing said to me – hey, what about that school up in mountains, Appalachian State.
Now, if you haven’t met my dad, he’s always – what he calls – pondering on things. Apparently, he just pondered upon Appalachian State – a place I had never heard of till that day. So, without a whole lot of ponding on my part, I soon found myself living in Boone. I was just glad to leave town and the people in it. Being homeschooled, coming from a family of seven kids, and having a dad who at the time was driving an extended cab, dually truck with a bald eagle ripping through an American Flag painted down the entirety of both sides of the not so small truck (not to mention it was a diesel engine, nothing subtle about this thing or my family) it makes folks think and say weird things about ya. Granted, it was likely more my perception than the pure truth, but I was 17. I didn’t feel in so I wanted out.
The transition into college life was tough – Boone was the size of 10 Bambergs. I cried alot. I knew no one within hours of Boone, delayed grief over the death of my sister consumed much of my emotions, my boyfriend of 5 years broke up with me, and my best friend at the time just quit talking to me. I now know that these are typical college experiences, but at the time I was lonely, shy, and overwhelmed. I wanted to make college work, but wasn’t sure I could. Then I met Priscilla. I didn’t know it then, but she would forever change my experience of living. She kindly stopped by my room in Lovill hall over and over again – compassionately observing my need to be connected – starting silly conversations or inviting me to share a meal with her. I found her too bubbly and annoying at first, but I’m glad she didn’t quit stopping by even as I hesitantly chatted back with her. I had little reference for how to let a genuine and intimate friendship develop, and I was stunted by all the relationship losses I had experienced. She taught me how, though.
For the first time in my life I was in a relationship where I felt truly accepted. I didn’t have to pretend. And somehow she always knew what was up even when I said nothing. Still does. She taught me how to accept compliments, how to be present with others without talking (which is so refreshing for someone who is naturally introverted), how to love big and be loved back, how to live a life of Christian faith, and how to offer compassion to the world.
Our friendship is one of the things I cherish most in life; it was the beginning of living a more congruent life. My friends, family, and clients may not know they are indebted to her, but the person I am able to offer in relationship with them now is because it was first gifted to me by Priscilla. Turns out going to Appalachian was a good decision; I’m grateful I didn’t ponder it too much and think myself out of going.