I've been out of college for over 6 years? no way.

If you don't know this, I didn't have exactly a stellar time at my alma mater, Wheaton College. It's too long to write about, so I won't. I will summarize by saying this - it was a dark, difficult time for me. The one bright spot in my college career was when I chose to leave for a semester to do an urban studies program via Westmont in San Francisco. A big thanks to Matt for getting me to do that, btw. The friends I talk about "from college" are 90% from that one semester. {I don't tell people that because it's kind of embarrassing, but I digress}

Regardless of the pain, discomfort and depression of my college years, I am thankful every single day for the education I received. With each passing year, I realize what a true, precious gift it is. As much as going through the Survey of Old Testament for 3 hour blocks in a night class made me truly understand the suffering of Job, at least I surveyed the Old Testament. As much as New Testament felt a little tedious at times (I mean, 3 of the books are the same, people, and you have to talk about it over and over and then contrast it with the one that's different, it gets old), I remember so much of what we learned. I remember professors who had devoted their lives to studying specific materials coming right out and saying that had totally different views on topics from what I had ever been taught (mind blown, right?). I remember learning how to read texts, how to study, how to pay attention and take it seriously. I remember being stunned in a Survey of Calvin History & Theology when I read about how Calvin lived in poverty and with daily taking of the elements. I remember memorizing Scripture in Spanish and having to understand it's new implications, because not all the words are the same.

I remember Urban, that semester in which everything about faith seemed to change for my college years. I remember feeling hope again. I remember learning how to hear, to learn, to love and advocate for the less fortunate and hated. I remember being pushed beyond my limit in what I thought about hard work, faith, culture, values, and friendships. A part of me believes I would 100% not be able to do my job today if I hadn't been prepped for that type of environment in that semester. What I do requires both an attitude of openess and being willing to say "I'm game" (#urbanjoke) and to deal with the hard realities out there. And when I see an argument about faith going on today, I write on my professor's Facebook wall for the name of a book we read because it changed my life and I need to share it with friends. I'm grateful I read it 5 years ago, not 5 months ago. I'm grateful other professors and friends start chiming in immediately with the title and author.

Would I do it all again? Would I choose, knowing what I know now, to go back and undo and choose differently for that time in my life?

I'm not sure. But I can be thankful. I can be thankful everyday that what they taught me informs my faith and life today. I can be thankful for the gift of those professors, for the moments where God chose to speak to my heart & brain (#wheatonjoke), and for the moments that made me into who I am today.

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