Higher Education

Last week we had the privilege of seeing Karissa receive her diploma for her Bachelors in  Health Science (Honours).  It is hard to believe that my baby is an university graduate.

The ceremony started with an older gentleman receiving an honorary doctorate from the university that my daughter attends.  The officiant who introduced him first listed all his credentials and I believe this man has more letters after his name than the alphabet.  In fact, when it was time for him to speak, he couldn’t even remember what honorary degree he received.  I guess it wasn’t really that important to him.  When you are that far up the ladder, another rung doesn’t change the view that much.

We got to witness a number of graduating classes receive their diplomas.  There were medical school graduates and those who received doctorates in psychology.  Karissa’s class was almost the last with the midwives and child life graduates.  In other words, the important, better educated people went first.

After the seemingly never-ending ceremony (we did have a couple of 7 year olds with us), we took Karissa and her boyfriend out to dinner.  Alex, Karissa’s boyfriend, got his undergrad last year.  They were laughing about the belief that seemed to be highly promoted all through the ceremony.  The idea that you aren’t anybody if you are have just an undergrad.  Both of them have aspirations towards further education.  Karissa has wanted to be a doctor for years and Alex is definitely looking towards a couple more letters after his name.

As I listened to them, though, I started to think about myself.  If they weren’t anybody because they only had a BSC, then I must be nobody.  I may have 2 college diplomas but I have only ever taken 1 university course and my university career has been halted there.  I was already married and I had dreams of children more than diplomas.  Sitting in a room where hundreds of people are getting an highly regarded piece of paper made me a little jealous.  I seriously wanted one!

Not that they come easy.  Not by a long shot.  Karissa has definitely had to pay her dues.  When most of her graduating class from high school were taking a gap year, she went right ahead toward her goal.  Even the death of her sister had no effect on her resolve.  We dropped her off in a city 45 minutes away from where we live a mere 5 weeks after Arlynne went to Heaven.   She has missed more family events than I care to remember.  Visits home are a rarity.  Even when she came home, which was rare, she spent most of her time here hiding, studying in the basement from the noise of her siblings.  She also took spring courses.   She basically worked her little behind off.

And I am so very proud of her.

Pete has also made the move towards high education this past winter.  Once a week he makes a 1 1/2 hour trek to Toronto to sit through a 4 hour class.  He then brings home 12-16 hours of homework per week.  This is in addition to spending 4 nights a week at work.  It has been a stretch.  I never thought that he would pursue his education with such dedication and resolve.  I am proud of him too.

I never realize the toil it would take on me.  It sounds completely selfish but our life, the life of our family has become about him completing his degree.  We have high hopes for what this sacrifice might mean.  Maybe a better job.  Hopefully a better job.  Maybe even a job where he can use the gifts God has given him.  We hope.  We have to.

At the same time, I am questioning my own diploma-less value.  If you aren’t anyone with just an undergrad, am I less than nothing?  I felt like less than nothing amongst all the graduates at Karissa’s grad.  I jokingly asked Pete if there will be a hierarchy in Heaven where all the doctorate and masters graduates will hold a higher place with God.  I was being facetious but I started to believe the lie that they were peddling at graduation.  Those with the most letters after his or her name wins.

Away from the higher education gods that were present in that room, I know that God doesn’t put value on people because of what they have achieved.  That is a myth we may have bought into ourselves.  That is not saying that we should not use our brains.  That is not saying that we should walk around blindly.  I believe that God has made us with an incredible capacity to learn and understand.  After all, we are made in His image (Genesis 1:27).  God had to separate man in at the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 because He said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this [building the tower], then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” (Genesis 11:6).  The people that God had created in His own image inherited God’s desire to create.  God didn’t make the people He formed less intelligent.  He could have.  Instead, He just separated them.

In our higher pursuit of knowledge, however, we can out-think God.  We have made Him, the Creator of the Universe, obsolete in our knowledge.  One of the presenters talked at length about evolution.  It was presented as the intelligent man’s (or woman’s) logical conclusion.  I can’t begin to defend my belief in creation.  I am not educated or articulate enough to adequately express my stand.  I don’t have enough faith, though, to believe that we are the result of some cosmic collision.  I can’t believe that we evolved from primates.  I don’t have enough faith for that.  I need my Creator God.

As I think about sitting in that celebration of higher-learning, all I can think is how God much loved everyone there.  He is not more partial to the individuals who had learned the most.  He doesn’t place any more value on those with the most education.  He longs for relationship with us, His creation, His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).  He pursues us all, even when we chase after the knowledge of this world.

My simple knowledge, my faith, my hope are probably not good enough for the majority of the educated in that auditorium.  I can’t argue deep theology with anyone.  Sometimes I am afraid I’m not good enough.  But the “enough” doesn’t matter to God.  When He looks at me I pray that He sees someone who wants to know Him more, someone who wants to be close to Him, who needs Him desperately.  I may never add any more letters to my name but giving God the glory with my life is all He desires.  And I plan on doing that for as long as He gives me breath.