I am a Christian, who comes from a family of Christians, who has long-time friends who are predominately Christians. Despite—or perhaps because of—this, I find myself lacking the very thing I should be having in abundance: conversations about Christianity.

It’s not that my friends and family don’t talk about subjects like gay marriage, abortion, modesty, or growing in our faith. It just turns out that when you already know what your friends are going to say, having those difficult discussions just isn’t the same.

When I came to Summit, I expected to hear about those particular topics (and others) and maybe talk about them. After all, small groups and class discussions provided a built-in a space to listen to others’ thoughts and share your own. As promised, I have been completely challenged by the lectures. Not only have they strengthened my faith, but they have given me the tools to understand exactly why I believe what I do and how to challenge others’ beliefs.

What I didn’t expect were the conversations outside the classroom. Summit is full of students who are not only willing, but eager, to share their thoughts on Christianity and the tough topics. Whether staying up to talk about Catholicism with my roommate or hiking and discussing what modesty really is, I am consistently surrounded by people who are ready to have in-depth discussions about difficult subjects.

As someone who learns best through discussion and debate, these talks have been the highlight of my time at Summit. Comparing ideas—with or without mutual agreement—feeds me in a way mere lecture or Christian companionship cannot.

One discussion that particularly struck me took place at lunch. As someone who is interested in the film industry, I frequently become frustrated with Christian movies because they are often poorly written, directed, and acted. As a result, they often fall short of their intent: sharing the gospel with a fallen world. I started talking with group of students about the well-known Christian movie God’s Not Dead and how it was largely ineffective. We discussed not only this movie, but the entire Christian movie industry and what needed to change to make it effective. Knowing that other students see the same flaws and share the same passions as I do—and are willing to discuss how to fix them—excites me. Although this discussion wasn’t a “hard-hitting” topic like homosexuality or abortion, it allowed me to hear others’ thoughts about a subject close to my own heart.

The students at Summit are what really make Summit. The speakers spark the thoughts, but the students drive them home. Being surrounded by students who not only live a Christian life, but discuss it as well is something that is different for me. It turns out, though, it is exactly what I needed.

I am a Christian, who comes from a family of Christians, who has long-time friends who are predominately Christians. And I plan to start having more of the very thing I should have in abundance: conversations about Christianity.


On Surrounding Yourself with Beauty

I saw the most beautiful bike rack last week.

A myriad of different colors all twisted together, the end trailing upwards into a giant leaf, providing shade.

It was gorgeous.

It seems silly calling a bike rack pretty, but it was a great reminder that beauty and functionality are not mutually exclusive.

Sometimes, a beautiful thing’s function is to simply be beautiful. There are other times, though, when something of function can have beauty. I think that finding happiness in little things comes from the times the two collide.

A lot of things in my life are divided into either “functional” or “beautiful,” “practical” or “pretty.” I often don’t spend the extra time, money, or effort to infuse my practical things with beauty. Perhaps it is because I often don’t deem it worthwhile. It seems silly sometimes to make things unnecessarily pretty. Notebooks get used whether they have a patterned cover. A plain tshirt works just as well as a cute one. Arranging food on a plate does not make it more edible.

The city could have designed the bike rack to be just a normal bike rack. However, by designing it to be both beautiful and functional, they added a unique element to the city that brightens residents’ daily life.

Maybe we are too often looking for the big happy things. We focus on the perfect job, spouse, or house. We are searching for the Mona Lisa of happiness, but miss the sidewalk chalk art along the way.

Surrounding yourself with beauty isn’t just about surrounding yourself with paintings and sculptures. It’s about taking pride in everything you do, using it as an opportunity to make the things you use and see on a daily basis beautiful. When you see beauty on a daily basis, it’s easier to see the beauty in things that maybe aren’t so beautiful. To appreciate beauty, you have to know what it looks like.

A little more time, a little more effort is worth the trade, I think, for a little more beauty.