the humility of learning

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“Time always flies, the hour (or two or three) leaving you exhausted, happy, perturbed, and yet strangely satisfied by the end. I was always grateful for the walk or bicycle ride back to college, dinner, or the pub afterward to allow things to settle or rise in my thoughts. The physical movement required to navigate winding paths home aided the mental digestion…

One’s degree at Oxford becomes for most not a matter of a prerequisite for a job, or to please one’s parents, or to make a minimum income bracket. Rather, the opportunity to study here seals an experience marked by intense personal growth resulting from a genuine desire to learn.

A heady, hearty experience that changes you forever because it racks you open ultimately to the humility of learning, which is where all of this wanted to take you in the first place.” 

– Carolyn Weber, Surprised by Oxford

I love this quote, because this is what college has felt like for me.

“The humility of learning.”

Big words on lessons on books on interviews on statistics on deep talks with friends on seminars on podcasts on articles on new words on more books until there’s a brain overload, and all of the sudden I cannot remember the difference between “specific” and “Pacific,” and I just need a long walk, a fresh cup of coffee, a temple massage, and a four-hour nap to digest all the knowledge consumed.

Then, of course, onto formulating a thesis for the next essay.

As a result of higher education, college is also a time of exponential growth, and consequently, no sense of permanence resides here. It has become a common pattern for me to look up and fail to recognize the person I was the month before, in accounting all of the sprouting and blooming.

The lessons He teaches are massively surprising, extremely excruciating, yet always worth it.

Yet there are those lessons that leave me wondering what subject it even is that I’m suppose to be absorbing. There are the times when every answer to every question seems dark and mysterious, and I cannot figure out why I’m here or even where it is that I am.

And the most sure and looming question of all for any and every college student:

Where am I headed after this?

There are those lessons that I am learning, but I cannot yet speak into language because their confusion is too real.

I have learned that this is the best type of learning, and the best lessons are those you where cannot even figure out the overarching subject. The sweetest lessons are those you did not even realize you needed to learn. These lessons take the longest, yet prove themselves most eternal and most nobel.

I have learned to write through the wrestling, to savor the struggle, and to settle here in this messy scholarship of Grace.

I have learned to stop trying to flip to the end of the book, and instead, to read this chapter, this page, this sentence only. Time has taught me that it is linear for a reason, so that I must learn this lesson to fully appreciate and live the next.

To soak in and treasure the current wisdom.

To hug and embrace this present piece of the larger story.

To feel the cold confusion and the warm epiphanies equally.

Only then, has learning reached its highest form.

As one poet once said, “to live all the questions…”

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.”

                                                               – Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Being a student is one of the most cherished titles I have of all. I love my university, my classmates, my teachers, and all the lessons.

But I have also learned that I am always, that I will always be a student— a student of life. A student of the One whom every lesson originates from, and who teaches the most wonderful lessons of all.

The hardest moments are those which make me come back for more. It’s absolutely exhilarating, and I have concluded we are meant for a life of learning.

I’m learning to live for this life of learning, this never-ending growth He promises.

He does not always promise exquisite excerpts from 18th century poets or research methods that quantify the otherwise subjective. These things are worthy of temporary admiration, but they are fading.  And what He promises is infinitely more valuable and eternal.

He promises to teach us the very most important things…

how to love the unlovable,

how to quiet a restless heart,

the magic of losing your life and in turn— gaining it,

the silent secret of sacrifice,

how to be the most content at rock-bottom,

and the mysterious lesson

of a broken Jewish man

who died for sinful, stumbling students

like

me.

 


The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.

                                                                                        – Ecclesiastes 12:11-13

 

(I like this verse because I think it speaks to the fact that the most real learning is not in books, but that learning by doing, by experience, by obedience, “keeping His commandments” is the purpose of it all.)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

–  Proverbs 1:7

Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.

– Psalm 25:5

 

 

 

 

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