How has your view of God changed or been strengthened since coming to NWC?
With graduation literally right around the corner, I’ve been spending a lot of time reminiscing about my time at Northwestern: the first time I went to La Jua’s, the reaction of the audience when jazz band got to play in chapel, and the come and go of NWC-centric slang terms (does anyone even say “roots” anymore?). Out of all these experiences, though, my most memorable time at Northwestern was my entire first semester.
After I graduated high school, I figured that I had to have everything planned out before I came to college. I figured out my major, my endorsements, the friends I would have, and a definite plan for what my life was going to look like after college. Obviously, there were two things that were important to me then: myself and my plan. This fact alone primed me for what would be the most mind-blowing five months of my entire time at Northwestern.
I learned what it meant to understand things in context. Christian Story I with VB was the first time I delved deep into scripture and came to the surface having actually learned something. I knew verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 4:33, but I had never examined them as closely as we were called to in class. I was astounded by how much the meaning of a verse would change if a person only looked one or two verses above or below or even pulled out a biblical commentary. I know that this seems kind of elementary, but it really was the first time that I had ever done that. The same thing happened in Historical Perspectives and again in Lit Contexts. How had I gone for so long without comprehending this simple fact of life? Now, it seems completely bananas that I didn’t know how to do this. To understand an idea, story, or verse out of context was to misunderstand it completely.
The class that solidified this for me was FYS. We had to read a short story by Chimimanda Adichie called “The Danger of a Single Story.” If you don’t remember reading it, basically what happens is a woman is surprised at the hospitality and love of a different woman whom she had assumed the character of by the fact that she was wearing a hijab. This story was what completed the obliteration of my worldview. “The Danger of a Single Story” was essentially about trying to understand another person without first understanding their context. When you know where a person has been and what their strengths, passions, and struggles are, you can finally know them and truly love them for the child of God they were created and called to be.
I had been so entirely focused on myself and my own plan that I failed to recognize the contexts of the people around me, let alone myself in the context of God’s larger plan. Northwestern gave me the opportunities and skills to learn about his intimate design not only through academics and scripture, but also in the ways that I was able to know and love my peers and their stories and finally let go of my own plan. I’ve been in awe of his work in my life and the lives of others ever since.