There is Always More to Learn (Writing 101, Day 5)

My younger brother recently turned twenty. On his birthday, we jokingly pointed out, “You’re not a teenager anymore, Sam. You no longer know anything.”

It’s amazing how age and study decrease your sense of importance.

Recently, I graduated from college and, if I learned anything in my four years at the University of Minnesota, Morris, it was that I am incredibly small. There is so much, no, too much to know. Even in my area of study, literature and writing, I feel like I know nothing.

If I decided to get a doctorate in literature, accumulating deep knowledge of texts and cultures from times gone by, it would take the majority of my twenties. Even then, my knowledge would be limited to a single subject—Victorian novels, Renaissance drama, Romantic poetry. I could study for years and years and barely scratch the surface… and that is in my field!

There are so many avenues I wish I could have visited in college. If I could go back, I’d up my Communication minor to a major and take as many rhetoric classes as possible. I’d insert a minor in Art History just because I love the subject. I’d delve into more History classes. I’d take another course in Gender, Women, Sexuality Studies, simply because the topic is culturally relevant and fascinating.

But college is over. Maybe I’ll go to graduate school someday, but that’s at least three years down the road.

Education truly is a gift. Through it, you learn how small you are. You learn that your point of view is one of millions. You learn to empathize with those who are different from you.

But academia is only one kind of knowledge. Now that I’m out of school, it’s time to pursue other studies—how to be a responsible adult, how to be good to my family, how to blog well, how to keep strong in my faith, how to take joy in every day. The biggest lesson is learning what I want to spend the rest of my life doing.

The beauty of education is that it really never stops. Inside or out of the classroom, there is still so much to learn.

This post is inspired by an assignment for the Blogging University class Writing 101: Finding Everyday Inspiration.

The life and times of a college Bible study leader

This past Tuesday was my final Bible study  meeting of the semester.  I’ve been leading the same group of girls for the past three years.  It’s been really fun getting to know everyone, forming friendships, and watching them grow in their faith.

At the beginning, I didn’t know much about leading Bible studies.  I took on the role as mediator.  I would read the text at hand, be it part of the Bible, a devotional, or supplementary book, ask questions, and make sure conversation happened.  It was fun because I was in on the action, learning with everyone else, but also managing some of the behind the scenes details.

This year, though, Bible study has taken a fun turn.  My co-leader, Jourdan, and I decided to plunge headlong into the New Testament book of Hebrews.  I’ve read through it in my personal devotions several times and knew it was a theologically challenging book.  There’s a lot of confusing stuff!  We covered a chapter a week and I was in charge of the first discussion.  I ran it like I usually do, asking questions and trying to get people talking.  It was awkward.  I came away a bit disheartened.  How was I supposed to mediate a conversation about this?

As a result, though, I’ve had the opportunity to step into more of a teaching role.  Every week, I’d spend a couple hours digging through the text, figuring out what was there, what it meant, and why it was important.  I’d consult different translations of the Bible, assemble quotes from footnotes, and scour devotionals for inspiration.  Then, after pages of scribbling notes, I’d tie it together into more of a lesson plan.  At Bible study, we would read through the chapter as a group, then I’d dive into my notes, explaining theological concepts, arguments, asking questions, and trying to apply it all to life.

The thing with teaching is that it’s a LOT of work.  I’ve been pushed and stretched this semester, but it’s also been incredibly rewarding!  I now understand theological concepts so much better and have an increased appreciation for how the Bible functions as a whole text.

What got me thinking about all of these things was an message I received from one of the girls in the group.

Hi Amelia!

I just wanted to thank you so very much for a great semester of Bible Study! You are so energetic, positive and encouraging and I really enjoyed getting to know you better these past 14 weeks! Wishing you the best of luck with all of your papers and finals.  I hope you have an incredible and relaxing break– can’t wait until next semester!

I don’t know the sender of this email very well, but getting this email brightened my entire day.  What a sweetheart!  Although I’m not in it for the praise, it’s always encouraging to receive thanks for something you have poured a lot of time and effort into.