[This is part VI in a series on the benefits of Bible college (in our case Columbia International University). This blog is written by my wife Jennifer who also went to CIU.
PART 1 – Five Indispensable Things I Learned in Bible College
PART 2 – Two Vital Relationships I Gained at Bible College
PART 3 – Professors That Really Cared: Dr. Anita Cooper
PART 4 – Professors That Really Cared: Bill Jones
PART 5 – Professors That Really Cared: Steve Baarendse]
As I mentioned in my post about my favorite professor, there are many things I wish I could go back and do differently…I suppose in life in general, but specifically in regards to my college education. My almost 30 year old self now looks back at my green, 18 year old self, and wants to scream warnings, hurl wisdom, and plaster advice anywhere the younger me would have seen it.
In the wisdom I have gained since that time, though, I know that, even if older me could reach out to younger me, younger me was too stubborn to listen 😉 I guess I mention all of this because, my list is drastically different from my husband’s. I wish that I had been able to glean the things that he did from Bible college — I sort of fumbled part of my opportunity there, and didn’t get to take all of the courses that really would have helped me further in my spiritual formation…and I did that because of pride, and fear, and naivety.
I learned that I needed to understand and respect principles behind rules.
CIU had a large list of standards that, upon enrolling there, you were expected to follow. From a minimum expected number of quiet times a week, to observing the Sabbath (no homework on Sundays — therefore, no class on Mondays, so you have time to catch up on your studies), no dancing, strict rules regarding relationships with the opposite sex, rules prohibiting the viewing of rated R movies, forbidding the consumption of alcohol, and others. I think, when I first started attending, I saw those as a checklist to complete. Not even a mandatory checklist, if I’m honest. There were some rules I agreed with, and some I didn’t, and I rationalized violations of some of them, and didn’t feel all that bad about it. After all, weren’t they being legalistic in expecting us all to abide by these sets of rules? That’s a really long discussion that I actually won’t be having here — what I learned later was that I was right to question those rules, and assess how they would apply to my life after CIU…I also needed to recognize the principle behind the rule, and respect that, instead of having a knee-jerk reaction to the restrictions they proposed to the freedoms I felt I deserved. They were safety precautions taken for the good of the campus as a whole, and for the college’s reputation as a whole, given Who they aim to represent. They weren’t things that I had to incorporate into my life afterward, but it was a good example of placing boundaries in your life for your good, for the good of those around you, and for the glory of the One you follow. I think finally, the thing I overlooked the most was that I was applying to be a part of that community, and that place — the price required of me was my submission to their authority…which I should have given upon admission. I’m grateful that I learned this before I left CIU, and was able to apply it, but I regret not realizing it beforehand.
While my husband was at CIU, he and another friend of his actually took issue with the standards, and submitted a proposal for how to improve and change them to the school board. They went through the proper channels, in a respectful manner, and challenged the Biblical principles behind the rules with those who could make a difference. That is an appropriate response to settling such a disagreement, rather than agree upfront to follow the rules, and then shirk the ones you don’t like.
I learned that my self-worth had been irresponsibly placed in performance.
I discovered that, despite a previous record of good grades and essential academic success, I was doing rather poorly in school. It was an incredible shock to me, because academics had previously never been something that I struggled at. CIU’s grading scale was different from what I was used to; I found myself getting an alphabetic grade of a C for a numeric grade that was equal to my former understanding of a B. I studied countless hours, and was still struggling mightily with tests. It was so demoralizing. I really was trying, and my best wasn’t good enough. This put me on a downward academic spiral. I was able, thankfully, to finally separate my self worth from my academic achievements, and begin to rebuild my self worth out of more consistent values. There was so much freedom and joy that I found in life once I recognized that my academic setbacks didn’t mean I was a bad or lesser person, and it gave me the determination to continue forward, albeit still fumbling.