Editor’s Column: Searching for God and the Truth



I had an amazing summer. Considering that has not happened since I was about eight, I was excited to finally have something special to discuss in my editor’s column. I sat down to write, however, and thought: How exactly do I articulate how working on a ranch in Colorado changed my life? It was not the horses, it was not the altitude and it certainly was not cleaning the cabins. It may have been the mountains. But in retrospect, I can sum it up in three words: God, community and freedom.

God never ceases to amaze me and that is all I have to say about that. But the paradox of community and freedom is more difficult to explain. First, when I say community, I mean 65 college-aged adults living, working, eating, sleeping and breathing together non-stop for three and a half months. It sure as heck did not feel like freedom when “alone time” required hiking boots. Yet this summer has been the most intellectually and spiritually freeing season of my life.

Growing up as an only child in a strict Christian family with a stay-at-home mom, I was never short on attention. Considering I am not exactly the rebellious type, I never wanted to tell my parents, “Hey, you just chill out for a few years while I go play around and figure out what I personally really believe about Jesus.” I started living for myself, but I still was not thinking independently, so I could not wait for the freedom that Colgate could provide.

College is the perfect place for figuring out what you believe and who you are as an individual, right? No parents, very few rules and all about tolerance. Except as I went to write this, I was overwhelmed by my past fears of sharing my beliefs so openly and the lack of freedom of thought at Colgate. I have had a professor tell me that those of us who still follow Christ in this day and age are “f*–ing idiots.” I have had friends who encouraged me to be myself, but if they happened to come around while I was reading my Bible, they would get cranky. I am expected to respect the beliefs of others as their own choices, which I do, even when they morally conflict with my own. Yet should I dare voice that, at least with regard to my own behavior, I personally believe something to be wrong, I am instantly vilified as the ignorant, insensitive girl who is trying to shove outdated Christian insanity onto everyone else.

Adversity never totally squandered my beliefs, nor did it help my faith to positively develop in refute. Eventually, I just mentally shut down. I hid my thoughts and avoided those uncomfortable discussions and consequently, I pushed my beliefs to the back of my mind. None of this I realized, however, until I spent the summer thousands of miles away. Too much “believe!” at home, too much “don’t believe!” at school – I needed to be alone. Yet it was at Lost Valley Ranch, where I was even more constantly surrounded by people, that I finally learned how to think for myself.

It took awhile. I refused to share anything personal for the first month I was there. I could not stop wondering how such strong women, so confident in their own beliefs, would react to the girl who did not have it all figured out, the girl who had been pushing her faith and convictions to the back of her mind for the better part of two years. But more than their judgments, I was afraid of their influence. I knew the reason I went to Lost Valley was that the only way for me to really discover and commit to what I believe was by getting away from familiar pressures and I would be darned if I let anyone I had just met push me in any direction.

But as will happen when one bottles things up for too long, one day I unloaded my heart and soul on my crew and discovered that these strangers-turned-friends were unlike anyone I had ever known. I had never been around so many people who encouraged me to think for myself and actually meant it. They asked the tough questions, they made me reflect on my past and my life, but they never judged my answer or me, no matter what. They gave me support and guidance of the best kind.

As we drove to the airport at 5 a.m. and I watched the sun rise over the mountains, I felt the incredible sense of freedom that comes with finally discovering what you believe and consequently, who you are. At the end of the day, the people at Lost Valley not only gave me a faith all my own, but they taught me to stand up for it, to live according to my beliefs and be courageous enough to proclaim who I am from the mountaintops. Or the Maroon-News.