Upon graduation there is a crossroads that every alumni member faces. You have a choice to either set yourself on a trajectory of continual growth and development in the relationships you have built with your BYX brothers, or you can allow yourself to get caught up in the busyness of life and consequently sever the ties between you and the brotherhood. It takes a significant amount of effort to be invested in the fraternity as an active member, but as an alumni member it is a much greater challenge. Lifelong brotherhood is what we commit to as pledges, but few remain true to that promise.
I did not notice the absence of growing up without any brothers in my life until I was in BYX at Texas A&M. It was the first time that I actually felt like I had missed out on something in my childhood.
By being a part of BYX I was able to do life with these men in a manner that may never experience again. I was finally given the opportunity to learn what it meant to have true community with guys who were pursuing the same things I was. We shared houses together, meals together, worship together, mixers and date parties together, football games together, Bible studies together and grew up as men together.
We have all heard the verse, “As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another.” I had never thought much of this metaphor until I actually lived it out. I had the privilege of “dwelling in unity” with my big and another older member in BYX during my junior year of college. That school year was a pivotal time for me, so it was fitting that I had guys whom I held in high regard and counted on for advice and encouragement living just down the hall. That being said, my stubbornness had caused me to develop a number of poor habits, distorted perspectives and overall irresponsible and immature decisions. Thankfully, these two men reminded me of those shortcomings every day.
At first I hated them for it, because I didn’t understand it. I felt picked on, belittled and humiliated and it was anything but “good and pleasant.” My pride was hurt and I was constantly reminded that I was wrong. That never set well with me and was difficult for me to accept. But, there was no avoiding it or changing it, because I was always outnumbered and proven guilty.
This led to many heated arguments, hurt feelings and unnecessary drama on my part. This was iron sharpening iron. I was the dull and jagged piece of metal and my roommates were the ones chipping away at me, heating me up and sharpening me daily. I despised the process. It was painful and sometimes destructive, but the end result was well worth it.
The difficult things in life are what make us the strongest. James reminds us that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness which leads to becoming complete, lacking in nothing. They took what was once a selfish, arrogant, immature, prideful little child, and helped refine me into a man capable of leading other men.
Although I didn’t understand it or like it while it was happening, I am forever indebted to those men for what they did for me. I learned the hard way and I am better because of it. They met me where I was and walked with me through the process of getting to where God called me to be. I have always been taught that you are becoming today the man you will be tomorrow. You can’t expect to slack off in life and then one day be ready for manhood. If you wait until it’s time to man up, it’ll be too late. You have to prepare now.
Beta Upsilon Chi did that for me. My brothers loved me well and were there for me even when I didn’t want them to be and was too stubborn to know I needed them most. I am by no means perfect and there is plenty more I need to improve, but those guys stuck with me through the times when it was ugly and helped bring me to a place where my priorities are in order and my focus is on Him.
I will never forget the countless interviews I have done with men in BYX where we were able to be vulnerable with one another and share what God has done in each of our lives. I cannot replace the memories of surviving the best pledge semester I never want to have again. I will always miss the retreats, chapter meetings and cell group activities that brought my brothers and me so close together. The things I overcame, the struggles I faced and the successes I shared with my brothers are what keep me wanting more. These are the experiences that hold me true to the promise of lifelong brotherhood.
Of the many senior speech nights that I have experienced, there are a few cliché themes that are prevalent at every one. Guys consistently harp on the quintessential goals of being an alumni in BYX, which tend to include being in a brother’s wedding, maintaining your big-little relationship and keeping up with your cell group. While these all seemed to be great benchmarks to shoot for, I never gave them much thought as an ignorant underclassman.
Although I was a doubter, I have come full circle from once sitting in the audience as an active to now looking back on my time in BYX as an alumnus. This spring I will have the distinct privilege of being a groomsman in the wedding of a brother who was in my cell group. For spring break my cell group and I will be getting together, as we usually do, to road trip together for our vacation. Lastly, but most importantly, even as life has brought my big and me to different cities and we have each become busy with work, we still find time to catch up weekly and carry on the invaluable relationship that we began when I was a pledge.
I am beyond grateful and forever blessed to have had the opportunity to develop a lifelong brotherhood with my BYX brothers. It began the night I accepted my bid, it was sealed when I became initiated, it grew as I participated in cell group and chapter meetings and the plethora of other events that facilitated unity throughout my time as an active, and the best part of all is that this brotherhood will continue far beyond the context of college. I have already begun to see how much of an impact the men that invested in me personally have had on my maturity as a man.
That is what BYX is after all. We see the world constantly producing boys, while BYX is in the business of producing men. These are men that have been challenged and equipped to be the husbands their future wives deserve, the fathers that their future children need them to be, the leaders in their future businesses that the world is lacking and the role models that younger men can use to look up to and find encouragement from.
I believe there is no other organization that better prepares college-aged guys for living life as a man of God should. The brotherhood I gained is unparalleled and the things I experienced are unforgettable, but thankfully, for me, this is only the beginning of my story.