Dumb Questions

“I’m graduating from Northwestern College in May.”

That statement prompts two questions that I have come to label as ‘dumb questions.’ Remember when you were a kid and you had a burning question to ask, but you never wanted to–because you thought it was a dumb question? What did the teacher say, or what reassuring words always followed–“No, there’s no such thing as a dumb question.”

Yeah right, I beg to differ; I’ve found two:
1. What’s your major?
2. What are you going to do with that after graduation?

To the first question: I’m a Religion Major. No, I do not want to be a pastor–I automatically shove that in my answer because most people will ask eventually. I’m a Religion Major. I have nomarketable skills. I can think theologically, I can challenge the way we’ve looked at God, and worship, and the Church, I can participate in my fair share of intelligent conversations, and I can probably exegize a passage as if my life depended on it. I’ve got extensive training in outdoor ministry–I’ve spent a good number of my summers at camp–so adding that along with the random part-time jobs I’ve acquired, I’m pretty much only useful 3-4 months out of the year. Tack that on with my summer in Guatemala, and now I can cross-culturally discuss theology, and whisper sarcastic things in Spanish under my breath when need be.

To the second question: What would YOU do with a Religion Major after graduating college? I already told you I have no marketable skills, and thanks to our program–no real internship experience either! Sure, there’s the seminary option–I mean really, after 16 or so years in school…I have no identity apart from academia, so why start now? So, scratch that, what’s left? Well, I’m not married, and I’m a woman–therefore, society tells me to stay as independant as I can possibly be, for as long as I possibly can. Go teach English in China, backpack through Europe just to say you did it (really, by myself that wouldn’t be fun), be a nanny in some far away place, get out of here-go do something you can never do again!

Really?

I’m graduating. This is kind of a big deal. I’m different now. I’ve thought about things in ways I never thought was possible, I’ve been challenged and stretched to articulate my thoughts clearly, concisely–all for the sake of laying it on the line in a paper or presentation–and hoping to have a professor not rip me to shreds. Can’t we ask better questions?

    • What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned during your time here, and how are you going to spend the rest of your life teaching others what you’ve learned?
    • What has been most challenging–emotionally, spiritually–how and when did you see God working through that?
    • Did you build a community–a realcommunity of people you can trust and who trust you? How do you plan to continue building this community after you leave—and how are you going to build new communities based on what you’ve experienced here?
    • Did you learn how to say “yes” to opportunities in life?
    • Did you learn how to say “no”?
    • Are you practicing a lifestyle that allows you to rest?
    • Have you seen the way you love God change–and grow?
    • Have you seen the way you love people change, and grow?

Where are these questions–why are we not asking (or being asked) these questions? Do we simply want to know what a person is going to “do” after graduating? Shouldn’t we be more interested in who this person is becoming-how they have changed and grown, become more of themselves, developed passions and dreams [even if they’re not realistic], learned to ask hard questions-even if they never get an answer…it’s hard to ask these questions. But it has been a hard journey developing the answers.

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