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Dear Wheaton: A Letter from a Graduating Senior

Dear Wheaton,

I want to take a second and let you know a few things. I’m leaving, but you’ll stay behind and continue to keep going. There’s so many things I wish I could say, but I will start with what you mean to me.

You’re the place I grew up.

You’re the place I found true friendships.

You’re the place I found God.

You’re the place I discovered what church is supposed to look like.

You’re the place that I utterly and completely fell apart.

You’re the place where I stared death in the face, more than once.

You’re the place where I learned how God could be good inside suffering.

You’re the place where I put myself back together again.

You’re the place where life, hope, and healing won.

Wheaton, I have every right to leave you angry and bitter. Because you are the place where my story and my suffering were ignored, invalidated, and hushed up. You have called me a “psychological liability” and asked me to leave. You have done the same to my friends. And I was angry, for awhile. And at some parts of you, I still am. But honestly, I’m not angry anymore. Not really. Now, my heart just breaks for you Wheaton. You are broken and bleeding but you are so, so afraid of anyone noticing that. You have so many people inside your walls that are in so much pain. Yet you refuse to lower your mask. You hold onto it with a clenched fist, clinging to it for dear life. Perhaps instead it’s killing you.

I long for the day when the conversation on your campus around pain and suffering would change. When hard and messy topics would not be off-­limits. When the judgment for struggling would stop. That you would break together, holding each other up and binding up each other’s wounds. Please, please drop the facade that hard things don’t happen here. Instead, choose to bear each other’s burdens and be brave enough to show your wounds and your scars. To all the professors who taught me how to think differently, see others better, and love the world around me- ­thank you doesn’t suffice. To the friends that loved me despite my mess- ­thank you a million times over. Wheaton, my heart breaks for you. Take off your mask. You might be surprised by the beauty you find underneath.

1 Comment so far

  1. Frederick Smith

    Thanks, Sam, for your raw, brave, forgiving & affirming statement. I hope you will find much joy and satisfaction in your next steps.

    Some of us in class of ’66 reunion (50th!) have arranged an informal discussion with a few faculty & students Fri, 5/6, at 3pm at Lisle-Naperville Hilton in Cypress Room – to hear “local” perspective on Wheaton education today, focusing “eyes on the prize” (whole-person formation of students, teachers being the catalysts).

    You likely have a full plate with graduation & family activities. But you would be very welcome if you can make it.

    Blessings, and congratulations,

    Fred Smith (MD) ’66 (Record editor in 1965)
    Garden City, NY


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