E94: Faith, Courage, and a Much-Needed Hug: Persevering When Community is Hard to Find
Podcast Intro – (Upbeat acoustic guitar music)
Jon Steele 0:09
Hey everyone. I'm Jon Steele. And this is After IV: a podcast for InterVarsity alumni. Life after college is hard. And even a great experience with your InterVarsity chapter doesn't shield you from the challenges of transition. As we hear stories from real alumni learning how to make it in their post-InterVarsity reality, my hope is that this podcast will offer some encouragement, a few laughs and even some hope for the future. This is After IV, and these are your stories.
Hello, hello, and welcome to after for the podcast for InterVarsity alumni. I'm your host Jon Steele. As always, it's great to be together again this week. Hey, if it's your first time joining us welcome. I'm super glad that you made it. Just to give you a little background whether or not you caught last week's episode let's let's get caught up together. You heard Purdue University alumnus Nolan last week on the show share about what the first few months of life after graduation have been like for him. And he made it clear that there have been some challenges as he moved to a big city began working in a lab with a notable doctor and professor and in particular, as he's had to invest a lot of time learning new information to write research papers and reports on the work that he's doing in this lab work and in a context that he's never been in before. But aside from those things, Nolan's had a really amazing experience when it comes to community in particular, he had a number of friends who moved with him to the same city. And before he moved, he'd already gotten connected to a church that has been a really great fit for him. Well, that's not everyone's post graduation story. That's not everyone's post graduation experience. So this week, we get to talk to Corryn, an alumna from South Dakota School of Mines and Corryn has had a vastly different experience than Nolan. She knew no one when she moved to a tiny northern Minnesota town for a new job. And it has taken months for her to start building relationships in general, and to find a good fit for church in particular, but one thing remains the same between Corryn story and Nolan story, and that is God and His faithfulness. I'm really excited for you to hear Corryn story of grit and courage as she waited for God to provide the community that she has been longing for since graduation. So let's get to it. Here's Corryn, and this one's for you, alumni.
Corryn, welcome to the podcast.
Corryn Sams 2:39
Jon Steele 2:40
I am really glad to have you joining me today and remind me where it is that you're calling in from.
Corryn Sams 2:47
Yeah, so I'm calling in from my little apartment from my little town of Warroad. Minnesota, which is roughly 10 minutes south of Canada.
Jon Steele 3:00
Wow. Ten. That is way up there. Way up there. Okay, well, it's always nice to have a fellow now Minnesotan Do you are you from Minnesota originally? Or is this like a whole new ballgame for you being in Minnesota?
Corryn Sams 3:13
I'm not actually. I'm from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Jon Steele 3:17
Okay. And I assume that Warroad Minnesota is not Colorado Springs. It's just not the same.
Corryn Sams 3:24
It’s not. It's one street. It's such a small town. It's one street. So I'm like 150 yards from the train tracks. And it sounds like it's coming from my living room. It is what it is.
Jon Steele 3:41
Yep. Hey, that's that's reality. These are the joys of, you know, out on your own apartment living. Yeah, the first apartment that I lived in, it was basically in a bedroom of somebody's house that they rented out. And they had a dog that lived outside and would just bark into the night and it was like it was just maddening. And the bed that they had in there just to be able to like sit down on the edge of the bed. I had to like build like prop up one corner so that it wouldn't just collapse down to the floor. So yeah, it's like, you know, my first my first eight or nine months in Mankato, I was sleeping in a bed that was propped up using my actually was the box that my this lava lamp that I used to have, it was like the perfect height. And so I packed it full of really hard foam so that it was like good and sturdy, and put it right under there. And so I slept propped up by my lava lamp for the first nine months of being in Mankato. It's ridiculous, but it makes for some great stories.
Corryn Sams 4:44
That's so true.
Jon Steele 4:46
Well, hey, welcome again to the podcast. Excited to get to hear a little bit about your post graduation experience. I'm excited to hear some stories from you. You've given a little bit of an introduction here but Corryn, will you just help us continue to get to know you a little bit
Corryn Sams 5:00
Yeah, so I, like you said I just recently graduated from the South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City, South Dakota. In December.
Jon Steele 5:11
So closing in on a year.
Corryn Sams 5:12
Yeah, I thought about that the other day. I was like, holy cow. I haven't been up here long. But I have been up here for long. Yeah, I graduated with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. And I'm working up here for Marvin doors and windows as a manufacturing engineer.
Jon Steele 5:33
Okay. And does that has that felt like a fairly natural transition from what you were studying? Or is it like us isn't quite what I was shooting for, but at least there's an engineering the title?
Corryn Sams 5:44
No, it's, it's entirely new. It is new, the job is new, learning new things, every day, all day.
Jon Steele 5:57
Okay. I'm sure. I'm sure. It's amazing how you can spend so much time studying so many things and still find out how much you don't know, once you're thrown into this, this world. So tell me just a little bit about your story of connecting to InterVarsity. And if there's, you know, maybe one memory that really stands out to you from your time with InterVarsity?
Corryn Sams 6:20
Sure. So when I moved up to Rapid City from home, that was about eight hours, okay, I'm really, really close to my family. It's so being so far away was tough. You know, you always hear that it's in college, that young believers tend to fall away from their faith. And when I moved up there, I was determined, that's not going to be me. Yes. So I, I, the first Sunday that were there at South Dakota mines, they have a nondenominational worship service that they offer for the new freshmen, so they don't have to go looking for a church that morning. So I woke up, said goodbye to my parents, and then went to this church service. And that was the first exposure I had to the InterVarsity worship team. I don't remember who exactly was playing that day. But I remember the last song, it was pretty upbeat. And the girl who was playing the cone was also playing a tambourine, she was just tapping it with her foot. And at the end, at the end of the song, she kicks the temporary across the room. It was awesome. So I happen to be sitting next to a couple of girls who were upperclassmen in InterVarsity, at the time, and they invited me to the Welcome Week activities. So I went to the first catalyst, which was our large group meeting and walked myself up to the worship leader and said, “Hi, how do I get involved with Worship?”
Jon Steele 8:05
Wow. And then like, from from there through the rest of your career with as a student with InterVarsity? Were you on the worship team, like the entirety of that season?
Corryn Sams 8:16
Yeah. So after my, at the very end of my freshman year, the worship leader that year was graduating, and he sat me down and asked me if I wanted to take over. So I said, yeah, absolutely I do, even though I have no experience with planning. So the next year, I jumped in. It was a rough first couple of months. But eventually, I got it figured out. And it became how I served my, my campus. My chapter, and I loved it.
Jon Steele 8:49
That's awesome. I had a very, very similar experience. I went to a Christian high school. And I had played on the worship team in high school for chapel and stuff like that didn't really play with anybody during college. But then when I came to grad school, that's how I met InterVarsity was during grad school. And it was very similar thing. It was like, early on in my time with InterVarsity. I was like, I'm pretty sure God's inviting me to be a part of the worship team. So I better go talk to somebody did that and then the next year, it was the same thing even though I had no experience leading like being the worship leader. It was like Hey, you want to take over a worship leader? Sure. I'll give it a shot. Yeah, I can very much identify with that experience. So then Korean as you think about like the end of that time as you're looking towards graduation and life after graduation, tell me just a little bit. Let's talk expectations as you are anticipating next steps, what were the what were the dreams or the expectations that you had for what was going to happen after you graduated?
Corryn Sams 9:50
So I met this company that I'm working at now in like September, so I had a few months to kind of get things planned out researched. area a little bit. What I was looking for in particular was a church. Because my church family back in Rapid City was a huge part of my college career. Okay. There aren't a whole lot of churches up here. Because there are only about 1500 people. Wow. Yeah, the one that I first found, I was super excited to just visit this church because I looked on their website and things, and I had this vision in my head that, yeah, I'm gonna get up there and move into my little apartment. And I'm immediately going to find friends and join a small group and join the worship team, and it's all just gonna be a great community. And then it wasn't.
Jon Steele 10:45
Okay, yeah. Well, tell me like a little bit of what that journey has been like, this is what you hoped for. But then it wasn't. It didn't end up being there. Tell me Tell me about that.
Corryn Sams 10:57
So I first moved up here, my company provided some housing for me for a few months. So I didn't have to worry about finding, finding a place. But January, Minnesota. It was cold, snowy, not a whole lot of sun. So that's, I mean, for one, that's not something that I'm used to being from Colorado Springs. There, there really isn't a whole lot of transition seasonally, I suppose. So I didn't have to worry about not getting enough sunlight. But when I got up here, I visited the church that I was researching online, and they just weren't the right fit. So at that point, I had decided to visit churches three times in a row. Okay, just to sort of get rid of all the irregularities that might happen during a church service. Yeah. So I visited them three times, and then a couple of other churches three times. And by the end of it, I'm like, I don't know if any of these feel like home. Because there just are very few people here that are my age. Okay. So you've got high schoolers, and then married adults with kids. There are very few even like married adults who don't have kids. So a pretty wide gap in just life experiences. Yeah. So I just really struggled to get plugged in to a community that could relate to where I was, and I can relate to where they were.
Jon Steele 12:47
How long did this go on for that you felt like you were just in this gap of like, I don't know, anybody, I can't find people to connect with. I don't know what to do here.
Corryn Sams 12:55
It really was probably a solid month or two. Some of that came with just feeling really introverted when I got up here, like, I've already gone through this huge transition. Yeah. Why do I have to be the one to force myself to go out and like, try and get involved or talk to people? So that was the tough thing to overcome to?
Jon Steele 13:20
Yes. And then as you mentioned, you're also battling the like, I mean, seasonal changes, not enough sunlight. And that doesn't really help with motivation to go do hard things. So you've got, like multiple factors kind of working against you here. But what's changed? How if things started to seem a little different than they did before?
Corryn Sams 13:43
So I'd say a few months before, still kind of in the in the midst of winter starting to warm up. I got involved at a church in town. Not the church that I'm going to now but it's small enough that you see them regularly anyway. Yeah. And I met Oh, man, a dozen really wonderful women. All mothers, okay, some of whom didn't grow up here and went through the same things that I did when I got here. Wow. And they were just so supportive. They all were checking up on me and like a few of them asked me if I wanted to help them with their garden this summer.
Are you a gardener?
I do like to garden. Yes.
Okay. Nice. That's hard to do in an apartment.
Yes. Very true.
Jon Steele 14:33
Nice to have an outlet, then.
Corryn Sams 14:35
Yes. So even though they aren't my age, I still found a really solid community with them. Because even though I might not be able to relate to where they are right now, they can relate to me. And it's just a good place to get wisdom from as far as like just doing life, but also doing life with God.
Jon Steele 15:00
Wow, is there something that you can look back at and say, Okay, this is this is sort of the moment that things started to change. Was there a decision that you made or something that you just started doing? Or was it like, poof, just all of a sudden, it was like God provided this, this setup for you, this community of women for you like, how is it that that came about?
Corryn Sams 15:22
So at the time, I think I was in week two of visiting a different church. And it was just another one of those. I had a rough week, sort of sort of days. And I decided to know, I don't really want to go to this church where I don't really know anybody yet. You have another one of those, “Hey, who are you? What are you doing in Warroad,” conversations. I just wasn't ready, right. So I was like, you know, I'm just gonna go to the baptist church this morning. So I went and sat next to one of those ladies during service. At the end, I got to have a heart to heart conversation with her. And I remember she gave me a hug. And it brought me to tears because that was the first time I'd gotten a hug. In like, oh, four weeks. Wow, I'm not like physical touches, and one of my primary love languages. But when you go so long, without being able to engage with someone in that way. someone that knows you, it just meant so much.
Jon Steele 16:33
Yeah. Wow. Okay, so while you decided not to continue checking out that one church that you were at, you did decide to keep checking out church, like, you could have just stayed home, you could have stayed in bed and just been like, forget it like today, this was my week off of church. And instead, you're like, No, I'm still gonna go not to that place, but I'm still gonna go. And it's in that moment that you meet one of these people that ends up being this very influential person and helps get you connected to this broader community of people. You still put yourself out there. And then finally, there was the moment of like, oh, okay, something is kind of breaking free here. And I'm getting to take a step towards this thing that I've been longing for, for like a couple of months since moving here. Well, let me ask this question. Are you doing any kind of are you connected with the church to the extent that you're like helping out with worship doing any of that? Because I know that that's been an important thing for you?
Corryn Sams 17:27
Yeah. So I, this last week was week number three of being on the worship team. That's been a whole thing itself, just jumping into an established worship team. But I'm really enjoying that. Getting ready to start helping out with Awana on Wednesday night. So rambunctious children should be fun. Yes. And there's a women's study that's getting started next week too
Jon Steele 17:56
Wow, that's amazing. So you've been in Warroad for about 10 months or so. You said those first two months-ish were like pretty rough, isolated time. So then you've had like, what, seven or eight months now of kind of getting established in this community? Is that does that math work out? Okay. And then the last three weeks or so? You've been getting established with the with the worship team as well? Yep. Okay, so it's still has continued to be kind of this ongoing, slow process of getting established in each of these places.
Corryn Sams 18:31
Yeah, that's something that was super tough, especially after college. Because there's so much that's immediately there. When you start schools, you show up and there's a whole bunch of people who are in the same spot as you. And it's like, I think we should be friends. You just kind of create this little group. But it's so different when you when you leave, and then you really have to be intentional and persistent.
Jon Steele 19:03
What has it required of you to keep going?
Corryn Sams 19:06
Honestly, like, faith in God's provision, and, and courage.
Jon Steele 19:13
Yeah, I think that that sums it up really perfectly. You got to be tough. I mean, yes. And to hold on to maintain faith in God and His goodness and His provision to be courageous like that. Those are some gritty things that you've been, you've been tough in these months. Would you say that it's been worth it like to, despite all of the challenges that you've gone through the place that you find yourself now, and knowing that there's probably still stuff that you have yet to see come to fruition? There's things you're still waiting on God to provide? Would you say that it's been worth it? Being courageous and faithful in this way?
Corryn Sams 19:53
Oh, yeah. 100% there's been this huge amount of anticipation, even since I graduate But just in the last couple of months, as we've been like waiting for school to get started, because the church that I go to doesn't have Bible studies during the summer, okay, it's only in the fall. So I've been waiting for these things to get started again. I'm like, I'm just aching for this community. Yes. I'm so ready. But in this time, also, I've gotten the chance to meet a couple of people who live in the next town over happen to be related to the pastor of my church, who are my age? Oh, and love Jesus. Wow. So even in like the waiting in anticipation for the community I've been longing for I'm gaining even more community. So yes, 100% it's been worth it.
Jon Steele 20:54
That's, that's really awesome. Can you see? Can you see ways that you're, I mean, even your relationship with Jesus has changed in this time? Or, I mean, just like what what is that process been like, as you're okay. So I don't know about you. But I have these moments in life where I'm like, I believe that God is the ultimate provider. And that any moment like, whenever he wants, he can just, you know, speak something into existence. I'm, I'm wanting you're wanting these relationships, he could just speak into existence, the people being there that are ready to connect with you. And yet there's been these places of waiting. Like, how, what is that done? With your relationship with God, as you thought about like, Lord, you could provide exactly what I want. Right now, you could have provided it months ago. So how do you navigate that tension of like, being faithful to the Lord while also recognizing like, God, where aren't like, why aren't you just giving me these good things that I want?
Corryn Sams 21:53
Yep, I definitely would say, it's not been. It's not been easy. I think, since I left school, trying to get established at a church, and essentially, on my own. When it comes to like, a supporting community, I have felt a lot of strain in my relationship with God, my quiet times, were pretty rough. I wasn't praying as much. And I think it just came from this expectation that I had that, you know, God, you sent me up here, but there's nothing up here. So some anger even to and I think eventually, it just took me back to the basics. reading my Bible, asking people for prayer, and an encouraging word, and even relying on my friends back at school.
Jon Steele 23:05
Yeah. And that I mean, that brings about new life. And, and it does make us tougher, because you know, Korean, you're going to experience some more challenges in the near future. Who knows what they are. But now, like, even Yes, you've got a great community to rely on. But the one that who has brought you through all of it has been has been the Lord like that he has walked with you through every step of the journey. He's the one that you can rely on from beginning to end through every one of these things. As you think about these experiences that you've had, knowing that you're not an expert, but you are further along than, you know, the next batch of alumni who are about to graduate. Based on these experiences. Do you have any advice that you would share with someone that is, maybe somebody that's looking to graduate like in December or next spring, somebody that's anticipating stepping into this next season? What would you say to somebody that's about to do that?
Corryn Sams 24:06
I definitely would encourage them to do the uncomfortable thing. And keep going. Don't stop going to something just because you don't feel like it. Or, Oh, I got kind of a weird feeling when I went there last time, continued to push through those things. Because you never know what God might have there for you. If you stop going, you might be missing out on an opportunity. But at the same time when you do reach those valleys, lean on the community that you do have, right just because you're leaving school doesn't necessarily mean that you can't ever talk to those people. Absolutely. Reach out to that group of people that you've spent the last four or five years with because they know you they know how to pray for you. And they can encourage you.
Jon Steele 25:03
Yeah, there's a reason that you still have these connections like, don't forget about them, don't disregard them, even though they're not in the same space as you, they can help you. Like, keep walking faithfully through these difficult times. Until until the Lord brings about this next phase and, and helps you see the things that you've been longing for and waiting for. I think that that's extremely wise. Corryn, thanks so much for joining me for this conversation. I think that there are a lot of people who have experienced the same thing and can be like, Oh, it's I feel so seen that there's somebody else who knows what this has been like, and that there are other people who find themselves still in the middle of it right now. And I think that your story gives a lot of hope of like, yeah, it's tough. You're not doing it wrong. It's just tough. And it what it requires, is pointing your face in the same direction and saying, I'm going to keep going, I'm going to keep trying, and it will be worth it. And you know, it might take less than a month or two for some it may take longer than a month or two for some to have some of those first breakthroughs. But it will be worth it in the end. Thanks so much Corryn for sharing that story, because I think it's one that people need to hear.
Corryn Sams 26:19
Yeah, thanks for having me.
Jon Steele 26:23
In Corryn's own words, “Alumni, keep going!” It is so easy to get discouraged, to get tired and to just give up not just on finding community, but on so many parts of the early days after graduation. As the excitement wears off, and the routine sets in, we can start to see the holes emerging, the noticeable differences between expectation and reality, and it can be tough, but just like Corryn, we need to lean into faith and courage. And sometimes that's just all there is to do to be faithful to be courageous and to keep going while we wait for God to show us the ways that he's at work in this new season. Corryn, thanks so much for joining me this week. I'm grateful for your story of faithfulness, in the midst of loneliness. We need stories like yours. I hope you're continuing to experience new depths of relationship and community as you jump into small groups as you play with the worship team and as you serve in kids ministry. Now, it's possible that you all listen to the story and say, Great, be faithful and courageous. But why is this happening in the first place? Why aren't all of our experiences more like Nolan's from last week instead of Kirin's? Well, next week, we're going to talk about exactly that. Jason Gaboury, author of Wait With Me: Meeting God in Loneliness is going to join us to talk about all things loneliness: what causes it, what do we do about it, and why in the world would God allow us to experience it in this season after graduation? And Jason has some answers to these questions that kind of rocked my world. And I think they might rock yours, too. So make sure that you're subscribed that you turn on notifications so that you don't miss it. And come on back next week for my chat with Jason Gaboury. Thanks for tuning in. And I'll see you in the after, alumni.
Podcast Outro – (Upbeat acoustic guitar music)
Hey, thanks so much for joining us today, Alumni. If there was anything that you learned, really enjoyed, or that encouraged you from today's episode, would you send us a DM or tag us in a story? We'd love to hear about it. You can find us @afterivpod on Instagram and Facebook. And if you haven't already, take just a second to unlock your phone and subscribe to the podcast. If your platform lets you, leave us a rating and a review. And if you like what we're doing here, share us with your InterVarsity or other post-graduation friends. Thanks again for listening. And I will see you in the after, Alumni.
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