I picked up my last grades tonight.
This stack of blue books, hastily filled out in 8 hours’ worth of testing, those are the final exams of my first semester. Those blue books are supposed to represent, encapsulate, demonstrate all the knowledge I gained during the semester.
Names and dates and locations and terms and theories and theologies.
But this stack, and the sentences scrawled inside, and the numbers marked in red ink on the covers – they can’t begin to tell you what I learned this semester.
Because I learned in lecture halls and seminar discussions, I learned in reading and writing. But I also learned on front porches and on couches, gathered around dinner tables and library desks.
I learned from all the people I encountered, in class and in the caf and in late-night study sessions and movie nights. I learned from professors and preceptors who taught and who cared.
I learned how to love well. I learned how to work hard, how to do your best, how to walk away when you needed to take a break. I learned about how to ask for help when you need it and how to accept it when it’s offered.
I learned that dry shampoo is a must.
I learned to say yes to people, to value relationships over grades.
I learned to show up, even when you’re afraid. Especially when you’re afraid.
I learned that I didn’t know what I was doing, still don’t know what I’m doing, but you do it anyway. You take a step and you take another and you trust that your steps will get you where you need to go.
I learned how to believe in myself.
I learned that God is so much bigger than I thought. God is complicated, and unknowable, and confusing, and beautiful, and present.
I can’t believe my first semester is over. How did that happen? Where did the days go? They passed in a blur of papers and lectures and hours in the library. Cups of coffee and study guides and laughter in the hallways, friendships forged over the breaking of the Body in the chapel and the breaking of bread in homes.
It wasn’t easy. Oh, no, it wasn’t easy.
And I still don’t have answers. I might have learned a lot, but I’ve also learned that I have so much to learn.
Next semester is going to start, sooner than I think, and there will be more late nights and stressful papers and tears. But there will also be laughter, and joy, and jokes. There will be people who sit on couches and aren’t afraid to ask the big questions, people who will be there for me at midnight if I need them.
There will be God, complicated and beautiful and present.
And there will be more blue books.