A New Place

There is so much going on inside of us, more than even we ourselves can pay attention to.

We moved to Valpo in December 2020. For those first few months in a new home, I would walk into the bathroom, reach out to flip the light switch – and feel only a blank wall. I’d have to use both hands to brush up against the nearby walls until I finally actually found the switch.

As that happened over and over, I realized something: my brain and body were doing so much behind-the-scenes work to get used to life in a new place. I was inescapably aware of the obvious things, the tip of the iceberg: finding my way around campus; learning my new colleagues’ names; figuring out exactly what I was supposed to be doing in a new job. And underneath my awareness, like the hidden biggest part of an iceberg, my brain was working through all sorts of changes. Like no longer having muscle memory for where the light switches were. Like not being able to drive home on autopilot. Like getting used to new noises and new faces.

It was a reminder: there is so much going on inside of us, more than even we ourselves can pay attention to. 

Now I’m returning for my second fall semester, and the same thing is true all over again. I know where the light switches are (even the Chapel’s hidden switches!). But as I’m actively working on worship planning and training new students and trying to learn first-years’ names, there is so much else going on inside me, too. Personal griefs, personal goals, that vague sense that I’m always forgetting something.

I’ve talked about myself for long because I know none of this is unique to me. I’ve had the opportunity to check in with a number of faculty and staff over the last couple of weeks. When I ask if they’re ready for the new semester, everyone gives me the same deer-in-the-headlights look. The closest I got to a relaxed response was from a professor who told me: “At least after all these years teaching, I know that when something goes wrong, I’ll probably be able to handle it.”

Whether we’ve been here 20 years or one semester, most of us are feeling at least a little unprepared to hop back on this merry-go-round. Why? Because there is so much going on inside of us.

If all we had to do was repeat what we did last year, we’d probably be fine. But we don’t know what students are going to bring with them into the classroom. Many of our departments have undergone major restructuring over the summer. Maybe we’re wandering campus looking for an office that got suddenly moved. And that’s just the work stuff!

My point? Let’s have extra grace for ourselves and for one another as we start this new academic year. We all need as much grace as we can get – because we’re all dealing with even more than we know.

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.”  (Colossians 3:12-15)


Pr. Kate

Aug. 24, 2022

Pastor Jim and Pastor Kate take turns writing weekly devotions for the Chapel of the Resurrection. Contact them here: