A New Shape to Life
Student Stories

A New Shape to Life

Mari Grattet

April 1, 2022

Moving away from home and my family to come to Excel has probably been one of the most impactful life choices I’ve made to date. I only partially knew what I was getting into here and while it has been both intensely difficult and intensely beautiful, every day has been worth it. 

I’ve gone through the ringer since I arrived on campus, but I’ve grown in ways I didn’t expect or even know that I needed. Starting as early as orientation day with finding out that I had four roommates and my introverted side freaked out, or pushing my physical, mental, and emotional strength on the Adventure Challenge, or presenting speeches in front of my classmates during the Communications module. I love each of my roommates dearly, and living in community is teaching me all sorts of things. I accomplished feats on the Adventure Challenge that I didn’t even know I was capable of and began the process of trusting my new life mates, I spoke mostly comprehensive words in front of an audience. Each of these things, and so many more, I have accomplished and learned and done because I was given the opportunity to test my bounds and to break them. I was recently given a descriptive word that has begun to change my perception of myself. Overcomer. I didn’t even know it, but that’s exactly what I am. It’s a part of who the Lord designed me to be. Honestly, I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to learn that about myself if I wasn’t here in the place that I am in. The Lord has been teaching and reminding me of who He says I am and who He sees when He looks at me. Learning to see that in myself has been a real struggle but each day, each week, I take a step or two forward, sometimes a step or two back. But I’m learning to accept that that’s okay. 

These people that He has placed here in Black Mountain, to live and be at the same time as me, I am just in awe. I never expected to discover and encounter so much genuine community, love, and support that I’ve already experienced in my time here. The bonds that have been forged between us already have such depth to them that it seems crazy to me to think that I didn’t have them in my life only half a year ago and now I can’t imagine my life without them. The Lord is on the move here, both in individual hearts and lives, and in our Excel and Black Mountain community. 

It's funny how, when held against the expanse of time that makes up a lifetime, I’ve been here a relatively short amount of it, and yet it’s as if I’ve always been here. I don’t know what’s next, but what I’ve experienced and gone through has already been giving new shape to my life and I’m sure will have ripple effects in my future that I cannot even yet imagine.

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