It’s Fine. Everything is Fine.

***In reference to my previous blog, I wanted to let you know that I am currently writing my final blog from Starbucks in New York, completely content with my delicious Cold Brew, sludge-free coffee:)
Perhaps if you accompanied me on this trip, you may have read the title of this blog and laughed. Regardless, I will take this opportunity to reflect on my time in Greece from the perspective of a traveler with tendencies to be rather high-maintenance.

What if we are late? Did I forget something at the hotel? Are you sure we have all thirty students?

These are all thoughts that may have run through my mind at the beginning of the trip. I also may have repeatedly attempted to stealthily count how many students were with us in our group even if the professors had already done so. Perhaps these are tendencies instilled in me from previous experiences traveling or at summer camp… or I might just be slightly high-maintenance.

I intentionally made a mental goal for myself to try to be as low-maintenance as possible and to simply enjoy a stress-free trip. In order to do so, I made it a priority to use the mantra, “It’s fine. Everything’s fine.” if a relatively stressful or unexpected situation arose. I made this statement quite frequently, but not to fear—we came back to JFK with all thirty students and wonderful memories!

Flying back to JFK

About a week into the trip I came to a realization that I had never fully understood before… there is so much beauty in the unexpected! Perhaps being slightly lost in the middle of Thessaloniki was not what I had expected. Maybe the intense waves underneath our overnight ferry or the olives which we thought were chocolate chips in our pastries were not exactly what we had expected, but what memories we now have!

Slightly lost in Thessaloniki...

In a separate assignment for which we were asked to reflect on our experiences before the end of the trip, I primarily wrote about how this trip taught me to take on life with a mentality of curiosity toward the unexpected. Sure, it is definitely important to make plans (otherwise we would have wandered aimlessly through Greece for three weeks), however micromanagement is not realistic.

This takes me to my theological connection.

I am the daughter of two pastors who have always provided me with an unconditional amount of unbiased theological discussions and resources. I have also continuously received guidance from a plethora of others who have shared me with a wealth of knowledge. I wouldn’t say that I began this theology course with it all figured out—but I definitely thought I had more figured out than I do now.

Our final lecture was about philosophy and the story about the wisdom, or lack thereof, of Socrates. To give the “SparkNotes version”, Socrates realized how many people believed that they were wise, yet he believed that he was not wise because there was so much that he did not know, despite the fact that today we regard him as one of the most influential philosophers of all time.

I had a discussion in an airport with the professors about halfway through the trip because I wanted to know their thoughts about other beliefs and eternity. I won’t give you the specifics of the conversation but I will tell you what Dr. Putt told me… “at best we are partially correct and at worst, we are completely wrong.” These words resonated with me because I have always had a hard time understanding a common, but unfortunate belief that Christianity is the only correct religion and everyone else is wrong.

This trip challenged me to challenge myself and my hermeneutics. I realized that faith has never been a struggle for me because I had grown up with tons of Christian affirmation. For the first time in my life during this trip I thought, what if I am completely wrong? It was at that moment that I understood faith for the first time. I realized that I have faith that there is a God. I realized that I have faith that there is a good, loving, non-violent God. Do I know this for certain? No, but I have faith and it is because of my faith that I do not doubt the goodness of my God.

This brings me back to the unexpected. I did not expect to contemplate all of my beliefs to the point of thinking that everything I knew was wrong. I also did not expect to receive all of the spiritual guidance that I had received throughout this trip. I learned in the most powerful way, to step back and enjoy the beauty of the unexpected. God cannot be micromanaged. God is unexpected. The unexpected is beautiful. It is because of His goodness and divinity that in any unexpected situation I can truly say that it is fine; everything’s fine, because God is in control.

Admiring the beauty of creation from the top of the Acrocorinth

We as human beings cannot even begin to define an unfathomable God. As believers, we must commit to a lifetime of learning and totally challenging everything that we know. We must grasp onto only the most fundamental of beliefs, which is what we call faith, and take on everything else with nothing but a spirit of curiosity and humility. When we understand how much we do not know, we will have the capacity to embrace all human beings, regardless of our differences and beliefs, with love just as God does.