Learning from Senior experience

We are the elders of SPU. As freshmen, we were welcomed with open arms by SPU president Woody Self, in the first year of "metal" meal plans, the "new" library and Subway on campus. We witnessed an earthquake, fire alarms, Dan Randall rollerblading after floor hours, Paul Assink reminding us to clean our plates in Gwinn, and Andy Anderson as Hill Hall president (and yes, Andy is still here too). And now we have enough seniority points to bump Phil Eaton out of his home during housing sign-ups. In the words of Chris Langer, "we’re OLD!"

It’s remarkable that despite Housing’s full scale attempt this year to usher us old-timers out of the dorms to make room for the ever-increasing number of freshmen, there are still a handful of us fifth year seniors lurking. Yes, they can take away our senior incentive, bait us with apartments made to suddenly resemble dorms and tempt us with "theme housing," but when all is said and done, it’s good that there are still upperclassmen in the dorms.

The Spanish philosopher George Santayana once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." In our case, lessons learned throughout the years can be valuable in shaping the lives of all dormers, especially the incoming freshmen. This enrichment provided by the presence of older students includes things such as homework help, role models, and knowledge of SPU functions, traditions and locations. A little experience can sometimes go a long way and save a lot of time. Therefore, at the risk of sounding like the guy advocating sunscreen, I’ll share a couple of things I have picked up over the years here at SPU.

First of all, let’s strive to keep giving to each other all year long. Usually, the first few weeks of school start out similarly each fall. The idealism and enthusiasm of the new freshmen create an air of fresh excitement for the floor. In general, most of us are pretty outgoing during this time of the year, with everyone meeting everyone. Unfortunately, as social circles get established throughout the quarter, the introductions tend to grind to a trickle. Now granted, once people have been met there is no point in re-introducing ourselves, but we can always reach out to people, even when we are content with our social surroundings. It really does make a difference.

Also, your SMC is not Jesus. When Samuel was searching for the new king of Israel at the home of Jesse, he thought he had found the new leader of God’s people, but God corrected him, saying "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). The fact that someone is tall, has a leadership title, plays the guitar, raises his or her hands while singing, wears a metal cross or fish necklace, or wears religious T-shirts does not make him or her a spiritual person. Our student leaders must be congratulated for their dedication and sacrifice that they make for us on a daily basis. However, it is important to not place them on a pedestal. They will and do fail like anyone else. True spirituality is found in a meek and teachable heart, such as the heart that God saw in King David. If we put our hope in people, we will inevitably be disappointed, but if our hope is in God and his Word, we will always be fulfilled.

Finally, we need to welcome people’s input in our lives. In Proverbs 27:6, the writer says, "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." It may hurt when someone sends criticism our way, constructive or otherwise, but if our attitude is that we can learn from anyone, we will grow as individuals and develop character in the process. If we devote our lives to protecting ourselves from any form of pain or unhappy feelings, we develop a victim mindset that converts Christianity into our own personal self-esteem program. Christ is ultimately transformed into an idol that looks a whole lot like ourselves.

It’s easier to smile and say nothing to someone under the pretense of "being encouraging" or "not being judgmental," but the fact is that we are just thinking of ourselves. We do have the ability to see things from a different perspective than someone else, and can point out things in someone’s character that they may not be aware of.

Have you ever worn those old 3-D glasses with the red and blue lenses? When I closed one eye and only looked through the red lens, I suddenly couldn’t see things that were red. They blended in with the lens. We all wear our own lenses, which are formed by how we live our lives, crystallized by time. If we are open with each other about what we see, those who desire to change and grow will be able to put it into practice and benefit tremendously. I’ve really come to appreciate those who have told me some hard things that I didn’t want to hear. I didn’t used to be this way, but as God has used their advice to radically change my life for the better, I have become forever grateful for them. Likewise, I have come to view as my greatest enemies those who merely stood by and patted me on the back, telling me everything I wanted to hear. If I were to have surrounded myself by such people, I know that I would be in terrible shape spiritually, all the while deceived into thinking what a swell guy I am because "everybody" tells me so.

The year is rapidly drawing to a close, so lets make the most of this time to learn from each other and reach out to each other. Next year, those who are still here will have more to share with the incoming freshmen. I believe that this cycle will perpetuate and SPU students will become stronger and stronger as learners of the great liberal art we call life.

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Title: Learning from Senior experience | Author: Omar Galeano | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 1999-05-26 | Internal ID: 688