On a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon, I spent a little over through three hours strolling through the Alamo. I’m one of those people who really enjoys historic sites. I tend to want to read each plaque, view each highlight and I especially like the audio walking tours that many such sites now provide. In the past, I would have visited such sites with friends or family. On this day however, I was alone. Being alone allowed me to take my time, to see all that was to be seen and, most importantly, to reflect on what was being shared. Being aware that history, particularly military history, is generally written by the victors, I challenged myself to listen and learn that day with a critical ear and eye.
The Alamo in and of itself is not terribly imposing or impressive physically. It is a rather small structure in the midst of an expansive downtown area. Its architecture would not be considered special or seminal. Much of the Alamo historical site has been restored by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. Subsequently, the stories and recollections are told from a distinct perspective. This meant that as I walked through the rather small and non-descript buildings and read the Daughters of the Republic of Texas’ educational materials, my skepticism couldn’t help but be peaked. However, even with my skeptic’s hat firmly in place, I could not help but be struck by a very clear and reoccurring theme. The Alamo changed lives. This small and unassuming place helped people determine what was most important to them. This repurposed mission meant something to those who encountered it. The simple truth was that lives were forever different because of what the Alamo meant to people.
In many ways, I see Fresno Pacific University like that. FPU changes lives. Time spent at our small university helps people determine what is most important to them. This repurposed Bible institute means something to those who encounter it. And, most importantly, the simple truth is that lives are forever different because of what FPU contributes to them. We don’t always know exactly when and where meaning will arrive. We can know with confidence, however, that much meaning-making takes place at FPU. The conversations, relationships, experiences and learning associated with this place help students understand who they can be. The conversations, relationships, experiences and learning that take place here impact, in inspiring ways, the trajectory of students’ lives. Through being at FPU, students have an increased sense of God’s call and how they will be able to lead lives of service and significance.
One of the things that I most enjoy about my job is the chance to learn students’ stories. Their stories of how they arrived here, what process they used to choose FPU, what they are encountering now that they are here and what they hope to do after graduation all intrigue and inspire me. In the Student Life Office, we often talk about how we are helping students craft memories that will last a lifetime. Each moment one of our students spends with a coach, with a staff member, with a faculty member or with another student creates a memory. Each memory created, carries with it the possibility of substantial significance.
Meaning…real, heart-felt genuine meaning…that lasts a life time, is found here by our students. Students find that meaning amidst the possibilities that they explore at FPU. The ways in which each of us help with this quest makes FPU special. The finding of meaning…real, heart-felt genuine meaning…that lasts a life time affects the trajectory of students’ lives. This trajectory change is such a blessing to see. FPU makes it possible for students to 1) dream about their future, 2) explore their options and 3) embrace how they will contribute to the lives of others. When dreams, exploration and contribution all come together, a life of substantial significance emerges…and God smiles.