I only had you for one class at NNU: Sophomore theology. I have to admit that I was not looking forward to taking it. At the time I was having a crisis of faith. I desperately did not want to believe. I felt damaged and abandoned by the church, and the last thing I wanted was to spend a semester talking about God’s existence. For my theology paper, I asked you if I could use the Bible to prove that God did not exist. To be honest, I can’t remember if I wrote that paper, but what I do remember is that you told me to go ahead with it. You said to explore how I was feeling, and to write the paper if I thought I could find evidence to back my thesis. You never once criticized me for my choice. You never said a word to me about my obvious bad attitude. Basically, you put up with a version of me that I would not be able to put up with were I to encounter her today. Honestly, it is because of you that I stuck with the church through that period. You never pushed, but instead listened, and you allowed me to pull myself out of the ugliness I was stuck in. You recognized that I needed to be able to be angry, and find my own way back. You were infinitely patient with me, and while this may not ring a bell to you, it is still something I think about.
Thank you for your patience. Thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for allowing me to explore theology without constraint, and letting me disagree. Through it all, I learned that I could think outside of the box, and develop a faith that was truly my own.
I appreciate everything you did for me that semester. I appreciate everything you are doing for the current students and faculty at NNU. You are a shining example of grace and love. I’m so very glad I had the opportunity to learn from you.