Ever the Student

I am slightly addicted to reading the news. I like to know what’s going on in my country. I like to know what’s going on in politics. I like to know what’s going on around the world. I like to know about new inventions and the state of our economy. I like to know about people who are shaping policy, leading armies, creating cures for cancer, developing the newest high tech gadgets, and of course, who's winning Grammy’s. I like to know what sports teams are winning what tournaments, and even though I can hardly listen to him without feeling compelled to sin on a severe level, I like to keep tabs on what Glenn Beck is preaching.

The best teachers? The articles in Vanity Fair. The Week Magazine. Foreign Affairs. The articles written by Richard Holbrooke and the incredible wealth of knowledge from the life of Henry Kissinger.  Men whose knowledge of foreign policy, love for diplomacy, and wisdom when the two collide comes as naturally to them as milk to a baby.  Richard Holbrooke passed away suddenly in December and I spent half the afternoon crying. Henry Kissinger recently offered commentary on the movement in Egypt, via Fox News, and I shushed Ryan as if I were listening to the first man landing on the moon. Like the Pope was about to announce the arrival of the end of times. Like Luciano Pavarotti was belting out his final note to the world.

Ryan, the great Henry Kissinger is speaking. Reverence please. Reverence.

So when I get a break from Annie, even though I know I should be writing, I often find myself scouring the news, catching up with the latest Foreign Affairs journal and texting my dad questions like:

"Emergency! What do you think are the drawbacks to START? Why isn't it being passed in its entirety? Confused. Write back asap!"

Or  "Why don't we implement sanctions on North Korea more heavily? Doesn't make sense to me. Head hurts. Write back asap."

Or  "DAAAAAAAD we are all going to die if the nuclear weapons in Pakistan get into the hands of a terrorist!!!!!!!! You HAVE TO STOP THEM. Write back ASAP."

I might have a little more faith in my dad's military career and super powers than I should. Still, he's my dad. And he's the guy that was smart enough to tell me to read Richard Holbrooke's articles in the first place, and he's the man who once did the Heimlich on me when I was choking on a banana and a bag of ruffles,  and he's the man who once used pliers to remove the retainer from my upper lip after I got it stuck jumping on the trampoline (trust me, it's possible), so I assume he can stop nuclear weapons too.  Or at least properly answer all my questions regarding the issues in the news that I don't quite understand.

I guess you get the point. I love studying the world. I am ever the student.

And not without cause.

This little girl was on the front row of our show last night in St. Louis. She was one of hundreds of little girls. Though there were also college students, young adults, and even dads who were there claiming to be 'our biggest fans' something about a room full of girls struck me. Struck me with glimpses of beauty and hope.

And, struck me with glimpses of fear.

Fear that they were listening to every word I said. Fear that they were singing my lyrics at the tops of their lungs. Fear that they looked at me as if I were important. Fear that when the song was over and my voice started speaking they might actually remember the words I say when they go back home, go to bed, and wake up the next morning to go back into the world.

It was not the kind of fear where I am actually afraid or stressed. Fear that steals peace or dominates your mind. Instead, it was the fear that the Bible talks about possessing when we go into God's presence.  A fear that is actually a form of humility and reverence. C.S. Lewis says it's the kind of fear that makes you "feel wonder and a certain shrinking" - not the kind of fear that makes you afraid of "ghosts and tigers." "It is a fear that comes forth out of your love for the Lord." (Problem of Pain). It is the kind of fear that our song, What Do I know of Holy, implies. A  state where you remember how small you are; how limited your scope; how big your Creator.

As the writer of this blog, a girl who has a platform to speak in front of thousands of people each year, a devoted citizen of humanity, and a follower of Christ, I find that besides time spent with Jesus, time spent reading the news is one of the most important things I can do each day. It gives me the education, information, and world view that is necessary to formulate educated thoughts and opinions on current events, policy, wars, and governments around the world. It helps me to stay relevant and connected with society at large. And it allows me to explore how my faith can, and should, intersect with the truths and realities of every day life for people living in California or Uganda. In France or India.  In Mississippi or Texas. In North Korea or Venezuela.

As a girl who longs to be a part of creating positive change in the world, I am committed to ongoing education. Not because I’m smart or pretentious, not even because I always enjoy it, but simply because I have a responsibility to present truth to these little girls with pig tails who are listening to every word that I say... I am responsible to speak truth because they are listening, because they are our future, because God requires it. Speak truth.

And truth doesn’t just arrive on your door step.

You look for it. You seek it out. You put filters up and sift through the partisan rhetoric, media frenzy, and half-baked stories and you look for the real story. The real problem. The real bottom line. You surround yourself with good teachers, and you sit at their feet and learn. And you ask God to guide you in truth; revealing perhaps the most profound truths in the world by simply watching the leaves blow off of a tree or by reading a passage of scripture in a completely new way; the Holy Spirit teaches an open and willing heart.

Last night reminded, yet again, that to whom much is given, much is expected. For those of us who have a platform, we also have a profound responsibility to lead people with integrity towards truth and away from ignorance. We have a responsibility to be knowledgeable about what we claim to believe and about the world we live in.

We don’t have to be scholars. I certainly am not. But to shirk knowledge, is to shirk the ability to fully know and discover truth.

Last night I was reminded of my own responsibility.

Heavy thoughts for a Friday afternoon, I know. But as I sit here in Kayak coffee shop across the street from Washington University and watch professors and students walking in and out; cracking books to study; getting ready to take on the world; I am reminded again how important knowledge is.

I hope that anyone we choose to put on a pedestal, anyone who has a platform, anyone who uses their voice to persuade...  be it pastor, politician, or president... would seek knowledge.  Not for the sake of pride, but for the sake of competency.

And I hope that if they do not do so, those of us listening to their voices will hold them accountable and demand that the voices we listen to be

faithfully-  academically-  spiritually-



With people and the pursuit of knowledge.

Ever the student, my prayer today is to lead, in the limited capacity that I have been given,  with knowledge and integrity. Not for my sake, but for the sake of those little girls...

who look to me

to tell the truth.