From challenging course loads to theatre productions to forensics tournaments to sports games to maintaining social lives, there can be a lot to balance. For some, this balancing act can feel like a comedy of errors; assignments falling through, deadlines passing by, and friendships lacking care. However, some students are working through theories on how the very act of balancing these responsibilities can teach a person more about God and growing in the knowledge of truth.
Junior Linnea Stuart became a Resident Assistant this past semester. When praying about whether she wanted to become an RA, Stuart’s initial curiosity was what it would be like to balance a heavy workload and also, essentially, “having a family.”
“Being an RA, you’re working with and supporting people, and people are messy. At the very least, people are, in the best way possible, very inefficient,” Stuart said. This was one of Stuart’s favorite discoveries as an RA this semester: "Part of loving people is discovering that there is something more important than efficiency,” she said.
While Stuart enjoys being an organized, efficient student, she also recognized in her role that “loving people isn’t a check-box thing. You can’t just check three boxes and say, ‘Okay, I’ve loved well for the day.’”
As an RA, she wanted to learn the balance of loving the people that she is responsible for with diligently keeping up with a heavy class load, mock trial, and an activity she had discovered took a lot more work for her to master—moot court.
While making these discoveries as an RA, moot court helped her make another discovery about herself; she struggles with arguing. “Which is so weird," she said. After all, Stuart has been involved in forensics since middle school. She had extensive experience as an attorney in her school’s mock trial team and her county’s Teen Court program.
“It’s just so different from mock trial in so many ways. It exercises such different skills than mock trial does,” Stuart said. “It forces your brain to think in arguments and not in stories and that’s not something that my brain is naturally good at. It’s more of a strength training activity for me, and it’s not something that’s as natural.”
While she loves to participate in the activity because of the people in the program and her high-caliber coaches, she sees this form of debate as a training ground. Further, she has watched and experienced that balancing this difficult form of debate with her responsibilities as an RA has shown her more about the person of Christ.
“It has been such a fun experience to have to say, ‘I’m going to sacrifice my efficiency in this area because I want to be there for this person,’” Stuart said.
In their bi-weekly wing chapels, Stuart has guided her wing through studying the book of John. As they have made their way through eight chapters, they have traced themes of light, the Word, and truth through the text. She feels that the extensive analysis she forces herself to do in moot court has also helped her find and trace themes through other texts.
And that is her theory: students can find connections in their responsibilities. The greatest common denominator is the Lord.
“The thing that I want to take away from PHC is that I want to be able to combine data theory and individual experience to make compelling arguments through storytelling. Moot court helps me make compelling arguments, and that’s why I keep doing it,” Stuart said.
There will be times when Christians must give a defense for what they believe. There will be times when they have no defense. But Stuart “want[s] to have those answers” and “want[s] to be able to reason with other people well.”
She views her role as an RA as “a platform to be able to communicate who God is, and to be able to reflect God in loving people well. And moot court has been a platform for how to find truth, and communicate it in a winsome way.”
Patrick Henry College exists to glorify God by challenging the status quo in higher education, lifting high both faith and reason within a rigorous academic environment; thereby preserving for posterity the ideals behind the "noble experiment in ordered liberty" that is the foundation of America.