Monday, August 19, 2013

Matt Archbold's Final Footnote For College Students

Many of you probably know about a popular series of lectures on college campuses called “The Last Lecture Series”. Professors (and others) are asked to give a lecture to students as if it were the last presentation they are able to give during their life.

Building on this idea - I asked a number of Catholic authors, bloggers, and speakers to answer the following question in 500 words or less:
“What do you think is the most important thing you could tell college students if you had one last blog post to do it?”
I call this series, The Final Footnote.

We have already had three others write for us in the series:


Below is the 4th post in the series from Matt Archbold. Matt is a husband, father of five, and an author. He blogs at the National Catholic Register and Creative Minority Report.
I know nothing. This is not a promising start to a final blog post. But here’s the truth - none of us do. So at some point we must make a leap of faith.

We leap anytime we make a decision. We leap when we choose to enter into a relationship, we leap when we pick a college, we leap when we get out of bed in the morning. We are not guaranteed an ending but we weigh the odds, we take our chances, and we leap.

My only advice to you is to leap towards love. When I have done so I have found I tend to land in good places.

In life, you must decide whether we are accidents on a spinning rock hurtling through space or we are intended, loved, and immortal miracles. Quite simply I can not view others as freak occurrences. Look around at the people you love. Look at a child. Do they seem more like miracles or just things that happen on a rock if it hurtles around space long enough?

Choosing to view life as an accident seems to me to not be logical. You can speak to mathematicians about the chances of life forming out of nothing. There’s a lot of zeroes involved but they say it’s about the same as a tornado ripping through a junkyard and forming a 747. Not good.

Choosing to believe that you are surrounded by miracles isn’t easy though. One must handle miracles with care. I think that’s why so many choose to believe in junkyard tornados. If you choose the side or miracles and love, that decision has consequences. Difficult consequences. You see, we are not called on simply to not hurt one another. We are called to love one another. That is a much greater responsibility. It’s much harder to do.

Love is not a feeling. It is a deep commitment to service. As the Bible says, love is patient, love is kind. Well, we don’t often feel like being patient or kind. Love can be difficult. But it’s worth it.

I’ll tell you a quick story. When I graduated college, I wanted to write for a living but I wanted to write about things that really mattered. So I marched into the newsroom of a local newspaper and told them I’d work for them a month for free at night after my day job and if they liked what I was doing then they could start paying me. Who knows why they said yes. He may have just enjoyed the sheer stupidity of it.

I worked the next decade as a journalist until I landed at my dream job at a city newspaper. I was excited and quite frankly impressed with myself. But one thing bugged me was how little actual writing I was doing. Writing straight news can be formulaic. Somewhat dull. I yearned to write a column about something I thought was important, beautiful even. I didn’t really know what mattered to me but I knew I wanted to write about it. I wanted a column for a national newspaper about things that really mattered.

But then my wife and I had our first child. But I was still working hard on my career. My child was someone I scheduled in on weekends. Finally, one night I had to make a decision. I could go on as a reporter and see my child on the big days like graduations and maybe a wedding or I could go back to freelancing and stay home with the children. This was the toughest decision of my life. I’d worked very hard to get where I was going. But after praying and discussing it with my wife I made the decision to stay home with the children. I believed that by making that decision I would never obtain my dream of writing a column about things that mattered. But I knew my children were more important. It was a leap of faith. But I chose love. I chose service.

We now have five children and I can tell you, other than marrying my wife staying home with them was the best decision I’ve made. And a funny thing happened. In between naps and feedings and play times I started writing a blog about things I thought were important and beautiful to me, mainly my family. Soon after, the National Catholic Register asked me to begin writing for them. I’d been writing for them a few years before I realized that I was writing a column about something important and beautiful to me for a national newspaper.

Ironic, huh? When I gave up my newspaper job I thought I was walking away from my dream altogether but quite frankly I had nothing to write about. In giving it all up and choosing love, I found my something to write about. But Christianity is not some genie’s lamp to rub and your dreams come true. God doesn’t necessarily fix the world, He fixes you and makes you ready to start fixing this broken world.

Every day is a leap of faith, but leaping towards love has made all the difference.

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