Garth Van Donselaar–Staff Writer
Seniors from the singleness subsection of CORE 399 hosted a panel discussion called “The Reservation of One” on Thursday, Nov. 8. Despite below freezing temperatures and the first snowfall of the month, students made their way out to SB1606 to ask questions regarding the topic.
The panel consisted of Dordt seniors Robyn Underwood and Matt Jacobsma, 2017 Dordt graduate Eric Rowe, and 2004 Northwestern alum Kristin Brouwer. Everyone on the panel is currently single.
Initially, the panel received ten pre-screened questions, and then the floor opened for students to submit questions anonymously. Questions revolved around the singleness of panel members, outside influences of their relationships, as well as the struggles and benefits of being single.
“There were a lot of days where I think it is a difficult time, but I think God calls us to be obedient to the season and place he puts us,” Brouwer said. Having lived in Dutch communities her whole life, she understands the pressure put on single people, including herself.
Brouwer has tried to leave Dutch areas, but she recognizes God has other plans for her. “I think part of that is in my own singleness to be able to build community of other post-college, not-married people,” she said. Currently, Brouwer feels God’s calling for her is as Director of Children’s Ministry at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City.
Students hosting the event hoped more conversations would come forth about Dordt dating culture and the idea of marriage. “My first week here they told me I would find my husband in my W.O.W. group,” said Underwood, “I found that shocking.”
Underwood comes from Santa Clarita, California, which is not a Dutch pocket like Northwest Iowa. She finds it crazy how her friends back home are not close to marriage while some of her Dordt friends are already married.
One of the event organizers, senior Kylie Van Wyhe, said, “the church should stop pushing marriage on people, because how often do you hear people say ‘oh, when you’re married…’?”
A Sioux Center native, Van Wyhe has felt the standard set by family and friends to be married. CORE 399 made her think, “What if it’s not my call to be married?” One idea that helped her tackle the topic is, “If you’re not willing to be single, you are not ready to be married.”
Underwood hoped the event would shine a positive light onto singleness. “I want everyone to get an idea of no matter what are age you are, no matter what time in life you’re going through; single, taken, complicated, that being single is okay,” she said.
“You feel so different here when you’re single,” said senior Courtland King, who attended the event, “hearing people talk about it being normal, it’s not something you hear a lot on campus, so I think it was really cool.” King enjoyed the event and thinks Dordt should start conversations about other hard topics.
Those who organized the event were pleased with how it went and the response they received. Their professor, Dr. Rebekah Earnshaw, also commended their efforts to start a conversation about the issue.
“It’s one of the joys of seeing the seniors at Dordt spread their wings or at least start to spread their wings,” she said. “It’s a lovely thing to be able to walk into the room and know it’s in good hands.”
Earnshaw is currently in her second year at Dordt, and this is her first time teaching CORE 399. Despite her short time in the area, Earnshaw notices the different layers in Northwest Iowa which all emphasize family and marriage: rural small town, conservative Christians, and Dutch heritage.
One of the things that led Earnshaw to wanting to teach a subsection on singleness is that “our identity is caught up in our relationships.” She wants students to be aware of what Jesus says about our identity.
“Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church, and that is beautiful,” Earnshaw said. “And yet Christ comes and there is a value and a dignity given to singleness so that our satisfaction ultimately lies in God and not in another human being. I will be married one day, even if I am never married on this earth, because I am looking forward to that wedding supper of the lamb.”