(Note: I'll be graduating on December 16th. Here are some things I've learned on the way:)
1: Nobody really cares if you're responsible.
When I was falling short back in middle school, I'd get calls home to my parents. And if my grades were Ds and Fs before the trimester closed, I got two-week notices in the mail.
That accountability drops off the table in college (and continues into adulthood, I'm finding). There is no institutional safety net to keep you from smacking your face on the pavement. Nobody will alert you that opting for a Netflix binge over Wednesday afternoon class will come back to haunt you. For the most part, nobody even notices when you're gone.
2: You need to turn connections into genuine friendships.
Connections are cool. It's fun to go places and randomly see people you know. I love creeping social media feeds and finding out what people are up to as much as the next guy. But connections don't grow you. They don't [significantly] shape you up into a better human being.
Not only could most people care less if you're responsible for yourself, darn near nobody cares if you're responsible for others. Most of us are too concerned with our lives to call people to account for theirs.
Friendships-- fun, challenging, every-week relationships where you know what's happening in the other person's daily life-- will not only make you a better human. They'll also indirectly hold your feet to the fire: it's easy to blow off your responsibility to others when nobody's watching, but who likes sharing that they have flushed their week down the Hulu toilet? Tim is my best friend, and I like to think he can call me out for not loving others well. (I can think that because he's done it in the last 24 hours.)
3: Five-year plans
4: The goal was never to stack up knowledge. It was always to teach you how to think.
If the point of my degree was retaining facts about the Bible and church history and missional theology , then it has failed miserably. I look back at old lecture notes like acquaintances from high school, finding them familiar but straining to remember any details about their life.
I can't tell you about American theology in the 18th century any more than I can tell you about quantum mechanics. But I can better sense how our thoughts slowly engineer the stories of our lives, and even our nations.
I can't tell you about polyphonic readings of the book of Job, much less can I confidently explain what Job even means. Now that I think of it, I have never been able to explain fewer things in my life.
But I can tell you that God dwells in the bottomless mysteries, the inky blackness, the wordless sufferings. And though I have never heard so much static, I can still hear the God who speaks life. Ordinary stuff still makes me stupid with wonder, silly things like peanut butter sticking to the roof of my mouth or a cold breeze kissing my nose or old men jogging across a busy street. And I still see the ultimate joy in things, and I still feel the need to praise someone for it.
photo: ok, so this isn't picturesque, but the fam had dinner together a couple weeks ago and it was LIT