Tag Archives: meredith college

Exodus 14:14


So, a kind of unsaid “new years resolution” for me has been to strengthen my relationship with God through gaining a better understanding of Jesus Christ and his teachings.

In recent years, religion has just been a difficult topic for me. I was raised Catholic. My parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles are all Catholic. I was baptized at just a few months old. I got to hold the candle in the front of church when my little brother was baptized. I went through first communion and first reconciliation in second grade. I played soccer for the Catholic church. I went to a catholic school for pre-K, and then again for 7th and 8th grade. In 8th grade I went through confirmation, and then in 9th and 10th grade I assisted as a confirmation table leader.

Thanks to my parents and my family, I have a pretty good head on my shoulders. I know right from wrong, and I stand firm to my morals. I don’t seek trouble, in fact, the though of being “in trouble” is terrifying to me. My family has always said grace before meals. I knew that being nice and being honest would get me farther than lies and being nasty.

However, I found it hard to be fully connected. I never really grasped the fact that you have to work on a relationship to sustain it, or that you have to do the work involved to get the outcome that you want. I struggled with this big time, and I still am struggling with this. I get lazy. I have the roots planted for a great foundation and relationship with Christ. But somehow, I feel as if my growth was stunted long ago.

I don’t know if this is because I felt confined in my Catholicism, or if I was overwhelmed with being that Catholic girl living in the bible belt (I have been asked if I have been “saved” more times than I can count, and each time, I just get confused and laugh… yes?) I felt terrified of my sins, not that I had done anything terrible, but mainly, I just felt that I didn’t do anything that was really THAT good. I didn’t necessarily ever believe that by confessing my sins to a priest would ever absolve me.

As a child- I remember saying my prayers before I went to bed. I remember just KNOWING that Jesus loved me, that I had angels watching over me, etc. I felt so safe in this fact when I was young. So safe, that I still remember vividly, when I truly felt God’s love around me.
I had this habit when I was 4-5 years old of jumping off of my top bunk onto a bean bag chair on the floor below. It was a game to me, I was a fearless little kid. It wasn’t really even jumping, it was more soaring/belly flopping. It was soooo much fun. But this one time I climbed the ladder to the top bunk and leaped off, and instantly realized that the beanbag I was aiming for was too far away and I was about to bust face HARD, probably breaking at least one bone. But instead of panicking, I remember turning my head to the right, gazing over at my dresser and focused in on this little elephant lamp that I used to have. I swear to you, time froze. It was for maybe 0.0001 of a second, but time stopped, and when it restarted, I kind of floated downward, as if I was being placed lightly onto my beanbag. It was like someone had a grip on the back of my shirt and moved the beanbag so I would have a gentle landing. I never saw a great flash of light, I didn’t really even know what happened, because I was only 4. But someone was looking out for me.
I have had other instances too, like 3 months after getting my license and not realizing that you’re supposed to yield while turning left on a green light and letting out a scream as I realizing that a car was speeding right at me, and I pressed my foot to the ground and gunned it through the intersection. I swear I missing a collision by inches, but I felt my car glide through, as if it were being pushed by some other force driving it. Again, I felt so thankful for being safe.

But I haven’t been thankful enough. As I said. I have been lazy. I never owned a bible growing up. I wasn’t familiar with how to read a Bible, I wasn’t familiar with the books, the readings, and His word. I only half listened to the gospels in mass, but I never really got it. I just knew the main stories, like the Christmas story, and the story of how Jesus was persecuted under Pontius Pilate.

In middle school my life changed. I became a selfish girl. It started when I went to the public middle school, Southwest. I was supposed to have been placed in the honors class, where a lot of the kids that I went to elementary school with along with a lot of the kids from my neighborhood. But that class filled up, and I was quickly exposed to a class whose teachers thought that we weren’t as bright or as worthy as other students. All around me girls were getting boyfriends, talking about how much they wanted to get their periods and have sex. And they were 11! I felt so embarrassed and ashamed of myself and my body at that time. I started my period when I had just turned 10, right at the beginning of 5th grade. My body was more developed than most of the other girls my age, and while I was still small and petite, I just felt awkward and ugly and overexposed to these girls who were showing their bodies off when I knew they were WAY too young. I even remember a girl who sat in front of me in class cutting herself daily. One time she showed me how she carved the word “boys” into her arm. I am still haunted by that image. I remember being bullied for being a “goody two shoes.” In band, I remember crying because these girls were picking on me, I don’t even remember why. Eventually I started lying to my family and those around me, living in my own story land in order to get ANY sort of attention. I stopped enjoying going outside, I found chatting on the computer to be more fun, at the time. I regret that now. I went through 4 different teachers that year in 6th grade. That year my relationship with my siblings also started to change. I had once been extremely close to my middle sister, Hillary, but I started to shut her out, getting annoyed with everything that her and my younger sister, Janelle did. Even my little brother didn’t seem to like me, and I seemed to always be getting yelled at for having an attitude. I was completely miserable. This is when the hatred for my body started, and I began shutting out others in order to attempt to control my body. I loved food, but i loved control. The eating disorder started slowly… more of an attempt to fill a void. It was very subtle for a long time.

In 7th and 8th grade my parents switched me to the Catholic school. It wasn’t a great experience, but It wasn’t as bad as Southwest, I admit. I could be myself more, I could be goofy. But even though I was at a catholic school, I had no motivation for school or for learning or for friends. I just wanted to get to high school.

Then I got to high school. I had my friends. I wasn’t “popular” but i wasn’t unpopular. I was just kind of there. I was still trying to figure out my body and how to dress and accessorize it. Pinterest wasn’t around back then, and being the oldest of my siblings and overall just clueless, I feel like I tried to be stylish but didn’t always “get it.” I felt as if I could just figure out how to make my hair look right, if I could have that perfect relationship with a boyfriend, if I could have those giggly girl-talk sleepovers, that I would be happy. I joined chorus, and since I wasn’t athletic (looking back, I probably could have been, i was just too terrified to try out for cheerleading or soccer) I decided to be a basketball manager in order to get out of school early. I then became a student athletic trainer, and I loved that, but even then, I lacked motivation. I still had this battle going on with myself, coupled with silly high school dramas and fears. I didn’t care about going to church. I didn’t even THINK about God that much during high school, other than helping with confirmation during 9th and 10th grade. My struggles with my body image was there, and my friends knew about it, however, I remained in control of my weight and was able to keep it a secret from my family.

I came to college very sheltered, but at the same time, I felt like “this could FINALLY be my chance. I could finally  have that group of girls like on the movies. I could finally fit in.” But I tried too hard. I threw myself into so many clubs and tried to hang out with people, drink, go to parties, as well as go to Catholic Campus Ministries. The pressures of everything was getting to be too much. I ended up quickly losing 10lbs my first semester of college. Then I started passing out all the time, and ended up in the hospital during exam week my freshman year. And I lied to everyone, saying that I didn’t know WHAT the problem was. I returned to school the next semester feeling more defeated than ever, and though I started seeing a therapist, I still felt as if I had already messed everything up too much. I felt as if I was already a lost cause. Finally my sophomore year of college my parents found out what was going on and gave me a 4 day warning to pack my bags and come home.

I went home and worked first at a bookstore for a year and then at Holy Angels, a residential facility for individuals with severe and profound disabilities for a year, and finally I decided that I needed to get back to school. That was my goal. I just had to get back. I cared about getting a career, about meeting friends again, and about hopefully maybe finding a boyfriend.

I have been back at Meredith College for almost 2 years now. I had to repeat my sophomore year last year. I met some really great girls right off the bat and was lucky to feel as if I FINALLY belonged. I was more motivated with school my grades.

Finally, this past year I finally let my guard down. I started to open up and show more of who I am, and the honesty was freeing. I didn’t have to hide behind this mask anymore. I found that people loved me for me. Now I just needed to work on fully loving myself. But how do I do that?

A good friend of mine has begged me over and over and over countless times for over a year to come to church with her. And over and over and over I have avoided it. I was terrified of going to a different church, not because I was scared of it not being Catholic, but because I just wasn’t sure my heart was ready. I believe that Church is church. You can have church in a canoe if you really wanted. I also believe that the love of Christ comes from within. I believe that church is wonderful, but I don’t believe that I am going to be condemned to hell for not going.

My good friend never gave up on me, she texted me every week inviting me to church among other things. She even bought me my own bible and got my name embossed in it along with a daily devotional, Jesus calling. It was amazing! She recently started going to FCA (fellowship of christian athletes) and after some slight begging, she got me to join her. I also joined her in going to a non-denominational church for the first time as well. I was really worried with FCA because I am not an athlete, but I quickly learned that that wasn’t the point. I went on the FCA retreat and my eyes were opened to so many positive people around me who were all actively sharing and believing in the love that God has for us. It was such a cool thing to be apart of, and to witness people truly believing, not just going through the motions.

I don’t think i am not going to give up on my catholic roots. I was born catholic, my family is catholic, and much the history of christianity is deeply rooted on the catholic foundation and has branched off from there.  But I have found that this is an individual journey. This is about me and Him. I don’t have to be so confined. Right?

In last week’s FCA meeting with NC State (meeting in the second story of the Cameron Village Chick-Fil-A) they said “you can’t achieve a horizontal love with another person until you focus on that vertical relationship.” That has stuck with me so much, along with this verse read aloud by my Huddle Leader, Cameron, at the FCA retreat. Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still.”

I realize that since middle school I have been fighting with myself. I have constantly been battling with being unsure whether or not I will ever be happy, find a job, find a boyfriend, be pretty enough, smart enough, good enough. I have come to the realization that i AM enough. Because God loves me. Jesus died on a cross for my sins. So how could my sins be so great that I couldn’t be forgiven? How could my time of laziness and lack of motivation be ignored?

“The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still.” –Yesterday it snowed here in Raleigh. We got about 1/4 of an inch, the ground was too warm for much to stick, even though the snow fell in big, fat flurries the whole day long. I decided to go for a walk. I layered up, two pairs of socks, leggings under leggings, t-shirt, sweatshirt, scarf, northface, hat, and those cool touch-tech gloves that allowed me to use my camera and iphone easily. I went down to Meredith College’s amphitheater and was completely by myself. I stood on a bridge as snow fell all around. I stood there for a long time, watching the geese and feeling the snowflakes melt on my face.

I know that God loves me. He created me. He created all of these beautiful things around me. I can’t let myself be distracted with feeling like i’m not good enough. I know that it is still going to be a battle, but I now know that I’m not fighting it alone.





The Meaning of that Little Black Ring

The Meaning of that Little Black Ring
By Kaitlin Petruska

Onyxxxxxxx picture!!!!!!! “  Shouted a girl from the class of 2012 at last year’s class day; “Kaitlin, will you please take a picture for us?” insisted one of the girls. Without an ounce of hesitation, I took her camera and was instantly handed four more (for Facebook purposes, of course.) Quickly and effortlessly a group of twenty or more girls from my Big Sis class leaned in smiling, right hand out, onyxes sparkling. The lovely ladies of the class of 2012 were laughing and enjoying their day, despite the looming rainclouds that would soon move the ceremony indoors.  I couldn’t control my own smile as I snapped picture after picture, thinking to myself about how in just a few more months that would finally be me and about how I couldn’t wait to finally have a little black ring on my own finger.

After I handed the cameras back to their rightful owners, I glanced down at my own onyx-free hand, nail polish chipping, and I felt a rush of emotions wash over me like a bucket of cold water. I couldn’t tell if I was happy, sad, ashamed, or hopeful. There were just so many feelings racing through my brain as I recalled how much that onyx would mean to me and how many years I’ve been waiting to wear it—to  wear the ring that symbolizes so much here at Meredith and that has symbolized so much for so many past generations.

I thought about my own freshman year, which unlike the rest of the class of 2014, was back in fall of 2007. I made the decision to come to Meredith because my mom had gone to a small, private women’s college. The choice to come to Meredith felt so perfect and so fitting. However, back then I was so shy and timid, and I so wanted that “true college experience” more than anything. I remember trying to find my place in the sisterhood, desperately trying to understand and asking breathlessly over and over what Cornhuskin’ was, and trying to figure out who I was and where I was going. I remember as a freshman trying so hard to fit in, not yet realizing that true friends would accept me for who I was inside.  My efforts rapidly turned sour, and I became so overly concerned about what other people thought of me that nothing else in the world mattered. After a year and a half I wasn’t attending my classes, and all I cared about was losing weight and what I looked like.  I let an eating disorder take priority over my college experience. Once my parents finally figured out what was going on, they gave me a four-day warning to pack up my dorm room in Brewer and come home.  I still cannot look back on that day without shuddering. I look back as I carried out boxes to my mom’s minivan while my friends went on with life as usual on their way to classes, texting, and making lunch plans. Back then, I was convinced that day was probably the most humiliating day of my life.  Thinking about that day now, I think about it as the most humbling.

I missed Meredith every single day when I was back at home in Gastonia. I missed the freedom I had, I missed my friends—I missed the sisterhood. I kept telling myself daily, “This is only temporary,” as I fought tooth and nail against the eating disorder that was keeping me away from a place that I had learned to call home. I only viewed Ring Dinner from Facebook pictures as my original class, the class of 2011, received their onyxes. Finally, after two years of hard work and the patience that it took holding down a full-time job, I had proven to myself and my family that I was ready to return to school.

I still had some worries about returning to Meredith College as a sophomore last year and starting anew, this time as an Even, but I must say that the decision to return and enter the class of 2014 was the best decision I have ever made. They have embraced me and accepted me for who I am without question; I have learned so much from these amazing women and I have never felt so blessed.  I know that these friendships will last a lifetime. Most importantly, I know that these lovely ladies will be there to encourage one another throughout the journey and remind us that we can live out our dreams, just as so many angels already have. To the class of 2014, thank you so much! Congratulations on that little black ring, ladies! Always know that you are all strong enough, you are all smart enough, and you are all beautiful enough. Now it’s our turn, ladies! “Onyxxxxxxx picture!!!!!!!”