Learning to Listen

Summit Semester Katelyn McDonald 2016The first time I sat down to write this blog, I had the intention of writing about this last week of classes with Dr. Gary Hartenburg. I was planning on writing a blog filled with my opinions and ideas on the subject despite my adverse attitude towards the professor’s topic of theoretical philosophy. Now, the night before this is due, it’s almost 11:00PM and I’m sitting in the lodge asking myself the question, “What is faith?”

I’ve now started this blog over and over again at least four times and I’m frustrated but I feel like laughing at myself. I think I’m starting to see how Summit works. It takes what you think you know and flips it on its head. It challenges not only what you think but why you think the way that you do.

I could probably sit here and write a blog about faith. I could use a lot of fancy diction and make some valid points, and if I had never had this Semester experience, I would probably write that and be proud of it. However, as I’ve repeatedly sat down to right these seven hundred words or so, I haven’t been able to do it. How is it that I’ve learned so much in the last few weeks, but have struggled more than ever to understand the things I have accepted my whole life? My own pretentious attitude and arrogance is surfacing as I stare at the verses opened in my Bible sitting to my left.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen we not made of things which we are visible.” Hebrews 11:1-3

I’ve memorized these verses and I’ve even explained them to other people before, but after being here for over a month I’m seeing them in a totally different light. I have way more questions now than ever before. The hours spent in class and the wisdom shared by the many professors have not greatly added to the confidence of my already vast knowledge, as I had expected. It has actually done the opposite, as I now cannot read a verse in the Bible without doubting and questioning everything about my understanding of it. I’m unable to ignore thinking about historical context, genre, or the greater metanarrative. I’ve taken myself out of the equation for the first time and I’m seeing the text as it was intended. I’m learning to put my hand down in a sense and simply listen. I’m beginning to receive instead of use. To not always instantly have an opinion to argue, or a valid grasp of the subject at hand can be a frustrating thing, but I’m starting to see that it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It doesn’t imply unintelligence, but leaves open the possibility for honesty and humility. I shouldn’t force up cheap answers for good questions, sometimes it may be better to sit on the fence for a while. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a right and a wrong, but rather that the path to it isn’t as simple as we would want. Maybe our faith comes from knowing that God will lead us there eventually.

I think this is why Summit is so important. It doesn’t tell you everything you need to know in five easy steps and it doesn’t do the thinking for you. It would be much easier if Dustin sat us all down and told us right from wrong using various Bible verses as evidence, but he doesn’t. He lets us challenge ourselves, and honestly pursue the truth. And so as I sit here and look up the word “belief“ in the dictionary as if I’m learning English again, I begin to see why it is so necessary to stop talking so much. Discussion can be a wonderful thing, but I think we often forget it involves as much thinking and hearing as it does speaking. I’m not learning that it’s bad to give an opinion, but when you’re only twenty years old, you learn more I believe by understanding that there are thousands of years of opinions that are much more thought out than your own. I believe that’s why we are required to read so much while we are here. We are being molded and shaped by challenging what we believe to be true and having an attitude that is open to see where that challenge will lead us. It’s an exciting journey and one I think I’m finally ready to surrender myself to.

Katelyn McDonald journeyed to Snow Wolf Lodge from Sunnyvale, California. She has a strong desire to work with junior high girls that are struggling to find their value in Christ, and has had the opportunity to volunteer at Camp Koinonia in Santa Cruz for the past four summers. She enjoys studying political science, and is active in Mock Trial and Junior State of America. In her spare time she likes to listen to educational podcasts on a variety of subjects, go running, study American history, or paint. After Semester, Katelyn plans to continue studying Nutrition at San Joaquin Delta College.