Embrace the “B”
By Jackie Bolen
I met Jackie Bolen during her 2004 Appalachian Trail thru hike via her AT trail journal and I continued to follow her activities thru her blog Just Wandering. Jackie’s AT Trail name is: Tell It Like It Is.
In October of 2005 Jackie, a student at Regent College in Vancouver British Columbia, Canada, wrote this article for the school newspaper titled Embrace the “B”. I found Embrace the “B” to be so completely insightful and thought provoking that I have provided it here for you. Give it some thought.
My Most Recent Publication
So a couple of days ago I got this article published in my school newspaper. So far, I've gotten rave reviews. Read and Enjoy.
Embrace the "B" – the Secret to Health, Wealth and Happiness at Regent College
So at about this time last year, I came to Regent College for the first time and perhaps like some of you thought Regent would be a quick little stepping stone on my way to a PhD and life in the academic world. This dream lasted for only one short semester as I started to meet people who were smarter, more talented, had more financial resources and were more committed to scholarship that I was.
I got A's in my classes the first semester but it was slowly starting to kill me. I was writing papers and studying things for the grade I would get and not learning things for the glory of God's Kingdom. I was studying the things of God in a way that became far too objective, detached from being "In Christ" and serving Him and the world around me. I tried to squeeze in social activity, Church involvement was a burden and I knew that I didn't want to finish my time at Regent in the same way in which it started.
So over the Christmas holiday, I formulated a new plan called, "Embrace the B." No more PhD, no more worry or stress over grades. I still try my best but instead of spending countless hours on things, I set time limits and stick with them. In exegesis last semester, I spent 5 hours on the weekly assignment, handed it in and hoped for the best. I would often get a remarkably similar grade to someone who had spent double the time on it!
What about doing our best for God's Kingdom? Surely Christians must be good at everything they do! I took a class with Paul Stevens last winter and in it he mentioned (forgive the paraphrase) that we do not always have to be excellent in all that we do but it is okay to be average at some things, there's only so many hours in the day. This initially seemed quite shocking to me but now I have begun to see the truth of it in my life. It is okay to get average grades, to learn what I learn and be satisfied with that. I now have time for health, wealth and happiness.
Health: Vancouver is an amazing city. Whistler is only 2 short hours away...buy a ski pass and enjoy! Squamish, the climbing Mecca of Canada is only an hour and a half away. Swim in the ocean. Go for a run in the endowment lands. Go hike the West Coast Trail. Sit on the beach. So many things to do and in my studying I had almost forgotten that it is being outside in the mountains, in God's creation where I feel happiest. I crave solitude and silence and although it is quiet and I am alone at the library it is not what my soul needs most.
Wealth: Last year, I did not work because I didn't really have time. This year, I am a residence assistant in a student dorm, with 21 young UBC students who challenge me and make me wonder how to apply what I'm learning in Christian Education and Equipping with these kids who have a desire to grow in Christ. This summer, I wondered about how to take my class on the Book of Daniel and turn it into a sermon on the Sovereignty of God. Although I get paid to do these things, the benefit is far more than financial in my life and hopefully in the lives of those around me. I consider it just another one of my classes and call it, "Regent Meets Real life."
Happiness: Playing outside makes me happy. Being stuck in a library does not. Spending time with friends and with God brings joy. Spending time doing textual criticism does not.
So what is my advice for you? If you are going to do a PhD, study and keep studying. People like you are important in the Kingdom of God, for it is you who will write the theology books for this generation and the next and translate the Bible into other languages.
But if you are like me, a person who loves to learn but perhaps doesn't quite have what it takes to do a PhD, then just let it go. I truly believe that God will bring other passions, desires and vocations into your life. Enjoy life, your time in Vancouver and the amazing, culturally diverse group of people you might get to know here at Regent. The sooner the better. Embrace the "B," life is better (for most of us, not all) this way.
posted by Jackie Bolen @ 8:26 pm
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