This is a slightly hodge-podge post, but one thing ties it together: I learned all three of these things yesterday, in very different ways.
1) This is something I've been in the process of learning for the last year, but yesterday I had an epiphany that allowed me to state it succinctly. This is I think one of the most important things I've learned in college so far.
When you're having a theological discussion with the goal of converting the other person to your side, you'll never convert the person. You'll merely cause tension and discord. However, when you move past the need to win an argument, it frees you to have real, fulfilling theological discussions, and only in those real discussions, when you're talking as friends and not as opponents, will you ever be able to convince someone of the truth of your own views. To state this succinctly:
You'll never win a theological argument until you aren't seeking to win a theological argument.
2) I tried out for chamber choir this weekend, but I didn't get in. I was disappointed, but I had been preparing myself for it and it did not shock me. I had left it in God's hands, I felt that my audition was good, and it was up to God. However, what I wasn't expecting was to be approached only a few hours after I found out that I was not in chamber choir to be asked to join an acappella quartet with three of my friends who are amazingly musically talented. If I had made chamber choir, I would have been forced to turn them down because of the demands on my schedule, but with my schedule freed up, I was able to accept something that I had been desiring for a long time. What lesson did I learn from this?
God often denies us one thing so he can give us something else.
This is something I have to keep learning, and it's always good to see a fresh example.
3) A bunch of guys in our dorm are watching through Band of Brothers this weekend (taking advantage of Labor Day), and we watched Part 3 last night. This particular episode contains what is probably my favorite moment from the entire series:
Pvt. Blithe is scared of fighting, and every time he finds himself in a combat situation he freezes up or hides. Easy Company is ambushed near the end of the episode and ends up in foxholes along a hedge, watching the Germans holed up in another hedge a few hundred yards away. Blithe is petrified, and he ends up in a conversation with Lt. Spears. Blithe confesses to Spears that when he landed on D-Day, he hid in a ditch instead of trying to find his unit to fight.
Spears: You know why you hid in that ditch, Blithe?
Blithe: 'Cause I was scared.
Spears: We're all scared. You hid in that ditch because you think there's still hope. But Blithe, the only hope you have is to accept the fact that you're already dead. And the sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll be able to function as a soldier's supposed to function.
From what I can tell as a civilian, this is the best description of a soldier's mindset. Only when you aren't worried about dying can you function as a soldier, and the only way not to worry about dying is to be already dead. In broader terms, you can only function when you give yourself up to God and accept that whatever happens will happen, and you can't control it at all. This is something I've used several times to counsel my friends, and I've found it such a helpful reminder of the necessity of relying on God.