Spring break was a welcome change of pace for everyone on campus. Our little college community scattered across the country with most people headed for one coast or another.
I, unfortunately, was not one of them. My choir tour with Bel Canto was incredibly enjoyable, but a week at the beach would certainly have been more relaxing. Tour is not unfamiliar to me and I loved being able to connect with a few communities and see my family for two days. I was out of my comfort zone, but barely.
What surprised me about spring break was the sheer amount of cash our students spent in this brief period. Though the majority of students here are relatively frugal, I was astounded to hear about life changing trip after life changing trip when I returned to campus.
I was left with one question: Huh?
As college students, we are the voluntarily poor scraping by on ramen and our cousin’s Netflix accounts. We pass up opulent spending and fancy meals in order to make ends meet for the majority of the semester, but over spring break we seem eager to spend, and money pours from our pockets for gas, hotel stays, and food.
And this is not totally a bad thing. I understand the need to relax, and even the most frugal people have times to splurge.
But it’s also important to realize our lavish spending a) puts increased financial burden on ourselves and our families and b) is based in our privilege as middle class Americans.
If, as we aim to do at our tiny liberal arts institution, we are educated about the struggles of the world, can we really justify our lavish spring break lifestyles?
I personally do not think so. I think everyone needs to take a harder look at the importance of frugality.
The fact is, we live in the US where over the top spending is worshiped as gospel. Mennonites have, for as long as we have been around, attempted to combat this sentiment.
Frugality creates common ground with the less fortunate, the very people Jesus came to heal. We can become more sympathetic to the people we are sent to by doing concrete things, like giving up unnecessary trips and using our free time to help those in need.
Frugality also must apply to our lives after college. Depending on how you read the gospels, you may or may not think Jesus was speaking in hyperbole when he talked about how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, but no one can deny that Jesus himself did not live a rich man’s life. By accepting the riches of this world, we distance ourselves from our brothers and sister who need our help and do not follow through on our commitment to live lives like Christ’s.
Granted, we cannot all live pseudo-monastic neo-Anabaptist lives (though some of us can, and really should). But, even in the midst of living out our American dreams, we can make choices that go against our culture of self-glorification, helping others and getting more people interested in this crazy rabbi Jesus.
This week, while many people headed to the coast and I headed off on choir tour, a group of students drove just over the border to northern Mexico. Instead of spending their week on themselves, they spent it on the good of others, building a home for a poor family that needed help. They spent less and accomplished far more than the majority of us. It is this selfless desire to help others, even in the middle of a breakneck semester, that I believe Jesus calls us to.
Live simply so that others may simply live.
Caleb Schrock-Hurst is a Sophomore at Hesston College where he works as a Writing Assistant, Ministry Assistant, and Horizon contributor. He would like to study everything, but when forced to choose selected English, History, and Music. Outside of academics his main interests are tennis, Bernie Sanders’ political campaign, the global church, and Arsenal Football Club. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on campus if you wish to exchange verbal or physical blows. (Editor’s note: Caleb Schrock-Hurst’s opinions are not necessarily those of the Horizon staff or Hesston College.)