I should back-date this, but I won't... It was originally written on August 29, 2006. It will serve as a general update on some difficult aspects of seminary life. Cross-posting to sjbtheology, where it will be back-dated.
One of my professors did not order his books for the bookstore but suggested that we order the books online. I need a major attitude adjustment about him and his class. My negative feelings about the impact of his choice are seeping into my general attitude about the course.
What does forgiveness mean? Does it mean that I turn the other cheek without showing pain, without advocating for change? The answer matters... It makes the difference in whether or not I become bitter. Surely I must be able to request change--and there is a difference between requesting and demanding, a test of my bitterness. There are also times when I should not request the change but endure the hardship for some greater good... Wisdom is knowing the difference. Part of my problem this morning is that I have felt powerless and bound by the book situation. How does the blood of Jesus cover this?
Over and over, it has occurred to me that people are afraid to trust the Holy Spirit; but often this is just what we need--and it is Biblical. "The Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say." These trials were situations where the early Christians were put on the spot. There are also situations where we are put on the spot. We desperately need the accountability of having the Word hidden in our hearts and being guided by its principles; but in times of distress there can be an urgent need for the Holy Spirit's guidance, and we should not quench it. Sometimes unrest is a signal that the situation is one in which it is appropriate to request change.
Sometimes the problem really is a lack of knowledge and understanding. With prayer and patient response guided by the Holy Spirit, change can take place. As I think about some situations where I have been able to help people to understand blindness and become more comfortable with me as a friend, I realize that while I have been searching for solutions to a specific problem I have been learning life lessons. The same holds true in the "book situation." So much of my time is spent thinking about how to solve specific situations instead of how to grow from them personally! I despise the concept of "just getting by," but that is often exactly what I am doing!
There are a number of factors about the book situation that disturb me. I appreciate the professor's concern over the fact that the bookstore marks up the price and knowledge that the book is cheaper elsewhere. However, students often use the bookstore because they can put the book on their account and pay with loan funds--and they don't have to wait for it to arrive. These things affected me directly because of my financial situation and my need to scan ahead of time--and students with invisible disabilities sometimes scan as well. I did not disclose early to all of my professors--they were not here. It was good that some of them had their syllabi online and I could meet my own needs for obtaining materials early and getting books into alternative format early. Scanning a 400-page book can take five to six hours. Due to the type of software I use, I won't have the ability to read as I go. It really is best for my time to scan before classes start and read as they go along.
I did not confront the professor directly. I was in someone else's office when the book issue arose because I had asked for assistance with navigating the bookstore, and we learned while in the bookstore why there were no books. I felt at the time that it was best not to make further attempts to raise the issue, that my distress had been heard quite clearly. In fact, it was clear that the issue was not about me personally and did not solely affect me although it did impact me greatly. I was assured later that it had been addressed; and the unrest left me.