Senior Q&A: Emily Starr

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Describe a turning point in your spiritual journey while here at NWC.
 

As I embarked on my first summer as a camp counselor, I was confident in my ability to reason Christ into the hearts of all my future campers. I knew my stuff, but I discovered, as I was bombarded with question after question, challenge after challenge, from these young middle school girls, I did not have all the answers. And it was the most uncomfortable thing I had ever experienced. Not knowing. Doubting. Wondering for the first time if I might, in fact, be wrong about this Bible I’ve centered my life around. Did my faith conflict with history, science, reason? What about all the apologetics I had spent years studying? It wasn’t supposed to crumble in the face of sassy adolescent girls. I came back to school my sophomore year, confused and doubting my faith. Everything I knew was being shaken, so I concluded it was time to start back at square one. And square one, for me, was the Bible. How are we supposed to read and interpret this cultural document that is frequently questioned by scientists and historians? 

After many books and many papers and many conversations, I concluded that it’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s not my job to “defend” the Bible. In fact, that mindset may prevent me from appreciating the Bible in the way it was meant to be understood. Being “fired” from the job of protecting and defending the Bible brought so much relief to my life. I no longer calculated ways to construct the best apologetic argument, but understood the best apologetic to be a faith that acts fearlessly well toward the other–regardless of who that other is. I could explore truth freely, without worrying about breaking the rules. Instead of being a “defender,” I got to be an “explorer,” continually searching for understanding. 

What advice would you give to underclassmen regarding their personal faith walk while here at NWC? 

Be curious. Ask questions. Even those really hard ones. The ones people are scared to ask. Curiosity is totally allowed, and even justified, by the Christian faith. We don’t have to agree with everything we hear in church. In fact, as a psychology major, it’s taken me a long time to come to terms with some of the seeming contradictions between evangelical faith and science. However, I’ve been able to stumble upon ideas that seem to make sense. It just takes a lot of reading and a lot of deconstruction. While the first “phase” of questioning was extremely painful for me, I’ve come to semi-enjoy the process. As older and wiser Christians have shown me, it’s okay to not have all the answers. It’s okay to disagree with things, even if, for example, you’ve believed these things to be true for a long time. It’s okay to let ideas go and allow your beliefs to change. It doesn’t mean you’re not a Christian. In fact, it may be a demonstration of a living, growing faith. 

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