A Year of Brotherhood and Unity

About one year and two days ago, I was formally initiated into the Beta Upsilon Chi fraternity. It is a national Christian fraternity, and it is the absolutely last thing I thought I would be doing with my time in college. It is also one of the best things I could have possibly done with my time. It is so hard to believe that I have already been a part of this organization for a year. It has so quickly become a huge part of my life, and the friends and brothers that I met through it have rapidly become some of the most important people in my life. Today, as I close out the first half of a brutal week of finals, I can’t help but reflect on the year that I have spent with Beta Upsilon Chi (BYX), and I look forward to the year ahead with anticipation.

When my roommate first approached me about┬áthe idea in February of 2014, it didn’t take me longer than a couple of seconds to write it off. For some reason, I never really gave Greek life a fair shake, and had convinced myself I didn’t belong in a fraternity. Besides, I was going to study abroad next semester, or something cool like that. I definitely wasn’t going to be a part of starting some lame Christian fraternity. Well, obviously I could not have been more wrong. Through an interesting series of events, BYX started to come together, and I started to become more convinced of the need for it here at UTC. Finally, I jumped in with both feet and decided to become a founding father, and was then fortunate enough to become the founding Chaplain. I swallowed my pride, regretted all the times I told God what I was and wasn’t going to do, and embarked on an adventure of a lifetime.

FoundingFathers
The Founding Fathers of Beta Upsilon Chi at UTC

We got initiated during finals week of Spring 2014, were fortunate enough to do a joint formal with the UTK chapter, and then we all went our separate ways. It was a whirlwind of excitement, and nobody knew what the summer was going to bring. I served at a camp for the entirety of the summer, and was pretty out of touch from most of my┬ábrothers. However, that didn’t stop us from hitting the ground running for the Fall semester. We held our first “Rush Week” and were astounded, amazed, and humbled by the amount of guys that came out to see what this was all about. We still barely knew what we were doing or what this would look like, and yet God blessed us with 19 pledges. A few short months later we had the honor of initiating 16 members of the Alpha pledge class. We closed out the Fall semester tired, worn out, and thoroughly amazed by what God had done over the last few months. Guys were growing together, and closer to God. We were slowly starting to shine a small light into this campus, and were able to give a small picture of what a Christian community could look like.

alphapledgeclass
The Alpha Pledge Class

 

chapterretreat
Our first chapter retreat in Cookeville, TN.

I was surprised and overjoyed with the first couple months of serving BYX, and I was thrilled to continue my chaplaincy into the next school year. I, along with the other newly elected officers, went to Texas for a weekend of officer training, where we gained a much bigger picture of what BYX has been and what it could be. We learned a lot, we were overwhelmed, and we couldn’t wait to bring this vision back to our chapter. 2015 was going to be our year.

Christmas break turned out to be a pretty tough time for me. I came into the new Spring semester feeling just as tired and overwhelmed as when I left for the break. I was feeling broken, beaten down, and honestly, pretty empty. I felt that I had nothing to give. I was in this position to lead and to pour out to others, and yet here I was struggling to take care of myself. I was blown away by the way my brothers came around me through that difficult time. They cared for me, they loved me, and they showed me how to lead through my brokenness. And more than anything, they pushed me into the loving arms of God, who provided the rest and healing that I so desperately needed. I will forever be thankful for the brotherhood that surrounds me, and I’ll never be able to explain the impact they have had on me.

worhsipnight
One of our first open worship nights.

Sometimes it feels silly to get so caught up in a fraternity. Sometimes I sit in the library with the BYX sticker on my laptop, staying hydrated with my BYX water bottle, sipping coffee from my BYX mug, while wearing a BYX t-shirt, and I feel like a sell out. I feel like I am just advertising for the Gospel of BYX, and worry about being too consumed with an organization. But, then I am reminded of the deeper meaning behind it all. BYX is not my church, and it is not my salvation. But on college campuses across the country, it is an outstanding representation of the saving love of Jesus Christ. Now that is something that I am willing to advertise. That is something worth giving my life to. We aren’t worthy of representing Christ, and yet He chooses to use us anyways. I don’t understand why He works the way He does, or why He has entrusted this ragtag bunch of guys with representing Him. But I am eternally grateful that He has. In everything that we do, and in everything that we say, I pray that Christ is glorified.

Formal
Spring Formal 2015.

At the end of the day, yep, it’s just an organization. It is just a fraternity on a college campus. But to me, and to so many guys, it is a whole lot more. Sometimes I get frustrated with it, and sometimes I feel like I might be wasting my time. But then I look around and I see what God has done. I see my brother who was rescued from suicidal thoughts and led to Christ, and was then led to a community that brings him so much joy. I think about my brother who came into college with every intention of joining the party scene but ended up rooming with some guys from BYX who radically changed his life. I praise God for my brother who spent his first year of college in loneliness and isolation, but now serves as a leader among our guys who can’t seem to contain the joy of Christ in His life. I consider myself, who floated through my first two years of college trying to figure out where I belonged, bouncing between communities, struggling through a spiritual desert and not really knowing which way to turn. Christ is my joy, and He is my salvation. He has rescued me and redeemed my life, and I will forever praise Him. And He is the common bond that holds this beautiful thing called BYX together. Today I am thankful for a year of brotherhood and unity in Christ.

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