I Don't Need No Education (at UC Berkeley)

August 25, 2017

I applied to UC Berkeley and was accepted. But I chose instead to go to a small, private Christian college in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. 


Except I didn't. 


I did go to the small, private Christian college in the Pacific Northwest. I did not apply or get accepted to UC Berkeley. 


But I told that story to folks for about 15 years of my adult life. And only recently, 30 years after all my one college application was sent and accepted (not to Berkeley), did I tell anyone about that lovely little (medium? big?) whopper. 



I was a smart kid. Good student. I don't know if I could have gotten into UC Berkeley, but being the only one at my college from my Central Valley California town, no one could know. And really, no one cared. 


But I did. I cared. I wanted people to know I was smart enough to have gone to UC Berkeley.

Except. I didn't even know if I was.


For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.


I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;

Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

--Psalm 139:13-16

(italics mine)


I often ask people, if they are a parents, adoptive parents, siblings, aunts, uncles when they first fell in love with the children they love. Inevitably they tell me it happened when they first discovered a child was to be born.  


And then I ask, "Why?"

"Because." Because why? "Well, because all children deserve to be loved." 


Why, I ask, do all children deserve to be loved?


At this point I get a variation on a theme. "Because they are helpless. They need love to grow and thrive. Research proves this."


This is where things get interesting as I press the point further!


So when the child grows up and no longer is helpless and can live and thrive without love, why do you love the child then? 


"Because they are mine and I cannot help but love them."


So, if something happens to you, and you are not around to love them anymore, then the child is no longer worthy of love? (At his point, the looks I am getting range from girl-you're-crazy and oh-your-poor-children to what-the-is-going-on-here-hands-on-foreheads kind of looks!)


Now my poor friends, acquaintances, clients, poor folk who happen into an existential moment with me exclaim, "NO! Of course they would still be worthy of love if I were not around!" 


Why? I ask. What makes them so? What makes a child, a person, worthy of love? Where does their essential value come from?


"They are human. They exist. They will do great things and love you and others."


Yes. I know. But let's go back to what you said about loving the child when you first heard they were on the way. What had that kid ever done for you? What great accomplishment proved the child's worthiness before they were born?


And what if they never accomplish anything great? What if they don't love you and others?


What if, in fact, that child never gets into UC Berkeley? What if that child never even dares to apply? Or worse, what if that child engages in something that, to you, is horrific behavior? Would the child still be worthy of love? 


Quiet. "Yes." Why. Long. Silence.


"Because the reason my children/sibling/niece/nephew is worthy of love is essential to their creation/Creator."


And you? This is where the folks I talk to often look swiftly up out of a reverie. "Me? Hm. I never thought of it that way. That I am valuable. I matter. I am lovable because God created me. No matter whatever else I have done, not done, was done to me."


And the beauty I bear witness to as it enters the Image Bearer faces before me as this realization washes over is like no other. 


I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.

--Psalm 139:14

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