TREE FALL: A tree in your dorm room is what college is all about

"Tree Fall" features college-focused stories, tips and inspiration for living Christian values in our broken world.

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” – 1 Peter 2:16

Back in college, a friend of mine awoke to find a tree in his room. This wasn’t a branch or a large potted plant, but a large, very real tree; a muddy, roots-and-all, decorative birch. Somehow, it appeared in his dorm room overnight and leaned against the wall like it belonged there. Where did it come from? Why was it there? Just…why? Because college.

To me, this story represents college in every way.

Aside from the benefits of the education, college is hugely important to your personal and spiritual growth. After 18 years of parental oversight, your college experience is the opportunity to spread your wings, make your own decisions for a change. You’ll make great, well-rounded life decisions. You’ll also make how-on-earth-could-I-have-been-so-stupid decisions. It’ll happen, and you’ll face the consequences of each and every one of your choices. Guaranteed.

The point is that with this new sense of freedom/independence, you’re faced with responsibility you’ve never before had to manage. In the case of the tree in my friend’s room, it turns out that it was his roommate who dug it up in the middle of the night and dragged it inside. That’s how he chose to handle his independence – he dug up a decorative tree from our living center’s front lawn. (True story: when we asked him about why he did it, he simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “I’ve never dug up a tree before.” Hard to argue with that logic.)

We call it the ‘son of a birch’ principle.
While that was probably the most ridiculous example of a college student doing whatever he feels like, the thought process that led to it isn’t really that unique. Without the looming threat of being grounded or having to explain your actions, it’s understandable why we all feel the need to try things we’ve never done before. It’s also why we fall victim to our own understanding of the environment around us. No wonder our time in college ends up being a critical turning point in our relationship with Christ.

I went through this myself. I grew up in a Christian home and had Christian friends through school, so I was never in a position to analyze why I believe God’s word or why Jesus is my personal savior. College exposed me to people who, not only didn’t agree with me, but would actively argue against my Christian lifestyle, seemingly because just the idea of a “Christian” annoyed the crap out of them.

For comparison, these people rated Christians just below Hipsters.
My advice to you is to stay smart. Bury yourself in the Bible. Talk directly with God each and every day, every moment if possible. Follow your conscience – if something looks dangerous, it is. If something seems like a stupid thing to do – don’t do it. If a tree looks too thick to cut – don’t try.

Keeping our minds and spirit aligned with God strengthens our resolve to make the right choices. But don’t fret! Making the right choices doesn’t keep you from missing out on all the things that make college worth attending. And, at the risk of sounding like an after-school special, I’ll leave you with the promise that making the right choices leads to bigger and better opportunities.

Trust me.

Depending on the strength of my convictions, it would have been easy to go with the flow, do whatever my friends were doing, agree with popular opinion. With independence, it’s completely up to you to decide how much you want to follow Christ. That’s a gift He’s given us. There are times in our life when we lose sight of that.

I’ve named this blog series Tree Fall, partly in reference to my buddy’s foliage problem, but mostly because our walk with Christ is very much like climbing a tree. With God’s help, we climb with ease. But for many young people, college is when the limbs start to snap. And a fall from this tree doesn’t end by hitting the ground.

It’s a free fall with no end.

Bible Verses

  • 1 Peter 2:16
  • Philippians 3:12

What’s your feedback? Let me know in the comments below.

  • What are some “new choices” you’ve made in college? Was God involved?
  • Do you think it’s hard being a Christian in college?
  • Have you seen someone compromise their values? What made them make that choice?
  • How can you be a good influence to those around you?

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