Let’s see how each of these fears played out, shall we?
For starters, BSSM Online became a thing and I felt the okay from the Holy Spirit about pursuing that option instead, so all of my concerns about moving to Redding vanished into thin air. That alone eliminated many of my fears!
Now for some of the specifics:
Telling my parents. I squeaked out to my mom that I thought I was supposed to go to school in Redding, and she was thrilled. She shared this news with my dad for me so I didn’t have to endure another emotional outburst – ha! – and he was as surprised as I was, but my parents said they would support me however I needed. This was the biggest relief of all, and after that, I didn’t care so much what anyone else thought, although I did get varied reactions. Most people were polite, whether they agreed or disagreed with my decision.
Going back to school. Guys, it was fine. If my brain has slowed down at all at 33, I didn’t notice it. 😉 I was by no means one of the oldest students, and there were younger students who struggled more than I did, so I guess you really can go back to school at any age! Yes, there was emotional processing (and still will be), but it wasn’t overwhelming.
Having enough finances. Since I didn’t have to make the cross-country move I’d anticipated, my savings lasted me the whole year (PTL). Even after a few unexpected expenses and impulse buys, the Good Lord provided and the manna never ran dry. 🙌
Potentially having to find work. Again, not having to move eliminated most of my worries! I was able to finish the year without having to find a job. It’s the ideal situation if you can make it work, but I also think it would’ve been totally doable to maintain a job, either part- or full-time. You just won’t have as much time to take detailed notes and soak everything in if you’re also working 40 hours a week.
Housing. A non-issue! By the grace of God, I got to save money and stay in my parents’ basement where it’s clean, tidy, and free. 😊
Roommates. Thankfully, I got to remain in my own room, and my two housemates – three, if you count the dog – turned out to be the ones I already know how to live with, so there were no adjustments or surprises. 😊
The spiritual environment. Plenty of uncommon things happened at BSSM, but it was far more “normal” than I expected! 😂 I quickly realized that there was no pressure and that encountering the Holy Spirit looks different for everyone. I’m not much of a “manifester,” and that’s probably why seeing manifestations in others made me uneasy before. I tend to encounter God in a quieter way to go along with my personality, but I know a lot of people who are the complete opposite. The Lord can work however he wants to. Were there certain things that weren’t for me? Yes, and I had the freedom to hold those views. BSSM is all about freedom and responsibility. You’ll be challenged but never forced in any way.
Moving to a city I’d never even visited. Still haven’t! I’d love to visit Redding someday, but I’m so glad I got to remain planted in my own community while learning everything BSSM had to teach me. It was truly the best of both worlds.
What people at my church would think. Well, you can’t win ‘em all. Plenty of people I know do think I’ve gone too far on the Holy Spirit train, while others have been overwhelmingly (and sometimes unexpectedly) supportive. Regardless, I did this for God, not for human approval. I have no regrets. As for my values, I found that my views slightly differed from Bethel’s in a few areas, but I also found some of my views being challenged and shifting as the year progressed.
Whether I’d even get accepted. I can laugh at this now. Spoiler alert: I got in.
Making new friends. This one was even more challenging than I anticipated, because meeting friends online is very different than making connections face-to-face! But the BSSMO community was wonderful. No, it’s not as easy as making friends in person. Yes, it is possible to connect on a deep level, and the school is set up with every advantage. There are small groups, larger revival groups, breakout rooms, and Facebook communities to take advantage of. I met a very diverse assortment of awesome revivalists, and you can, too.
Wasting money. BSSM was 100% worth it. No question. I’m certain I would’ve said the same thing if I’d gone in person. Not one cent was a waste.
The missions trip. Canceled because of COVID. Another non-issue.
City service. Honestly, this was never mentioned outside of the application process. I kept a small group going throughout the year that I already had previously, but no one ever checked in when it came to our local church volunteerism, so I’m not even sure this was required. Once again, a non-issue.
Moving back home and readjusting. This was something I dealt with right away, since I never moved and therefore experienced the growth pains in real time. For the most part, I think this is an advantage. I avoided any culture shock at the end of the year and instead processed it all year long. To be honest, I’m still working through this. In retrospect, I was working through this even before I started school. Any areas I struggled in before are now magnified, because I’ve seen what’s possible through my experience at BSSM, and certain things now fall short. People and environments that used to challenge me and feed me spiritually no longer do. I find myself increasingly disconnected from people I once felt close to, because they’re content with where I once was, too, but no longer am. The one thing I don’t see myself becoming (at least not yet!) is complacent. I can’t imagine ever again settling for anything less than what I know is available to me in Christ. So, yes. There is an adjustment. It’s not a cakewalk but I know it’s a normal part of growth.
What if it actually is a cult? I can confidently tell you it’s not. BSSM is not a cult. Bethel is not a cult. The Bible is read, preached, taught, and lived out. Bill Johnson lives and breathes Scripture. Any worries in this area were completely unfounded.
BSSM has been an unexpected Ephesians 3:20 gift to me. It exceeded my expectations. It fed me in ways I wasn’t even sure were possible. It empowered me, encouraged me, equipped me, and grew me, probably more than I realize. It was eight months well-spent. 100% worth the risk. 100% worth the investment. 100% would do all over again. 💯 💯 💯
Hey! I'm Brianna and I'm a millennial. I'm also a reader, writer, God-lover, introvert, and recovering perfectionist. ☺️
I want to inspire millennials to retain their morality, hope, and faith as they transition into adulthood and full-fledged "adult."