I didn't shut down. The storm blew past, and I read...
Twenty-two years ago, I made a life-changing commitment. It is very fitting that today I am sitting down to begin work in earnest toward a goal associated with that life-changing commitment. As I begin one of my first reading assignments, I find myself confronting questions about my expectations of what I will experience during the next few years. I have been thinking about this already during the past few weeks, and some things don't really surprise me. Perhaps because I have taken so much time with my decision and planning, I will not have so much difficulty with the transition as I might have otherwise. However, I am prone to experience a bit of shock as I realize that the standards I hole myself to are extremely high, and they are not necessarily the same standards that others share. This can create some problems for me in relationships with other seminarians who may think that I am too serious, taking on too much, etc. I need to be sensitive enough to be aware when this may be the case; but at the same time, I need to respect myself enough to maintain the awareness that I am the person who must assess whether or not I am taking on too much and that what I take on I do with the knowledge that I will need to work much harder and longer at times than my peers in order to complete the task.
I like the quote on p. 12: "As a seminarian, you can choose to see each area of the
seminary experience as something that contributes to your spiritual
formation and reliance upon God, or as something that is to be
feared and defended against lest it lead you farther away from God.
" I recently had a discussion with a friend from church who told me that a lot of people hide from God in seminary and that she felt that seminary had been detrimental to her spiritual life because of all the academic work required. I've heard some people say the same thing about undergraduate work in religion, even at AU. I don't remember having that experience at all. In fact, I remember that it was challenging and life-bringing--but then I always find things that cause me to question to be challenging and life-giving. For me, there is no life if there are no questions to ask. My faith has been built on asking questions: questions about healing, questions about the Holy Spirit, questions about God's willingness to provide for me financially when my equipment broke down, questions about God's relationship to me when I sinned in an effort to address my feelings of social isolation instead of taking those feelings to Him... Part of what I feared was that seminary would be dry and academic at all times... The days in orientation were good for me. Meeting the professors was good for me. I can't understand the concept of going to seminary and not expecting to be challenged in my faith. I've spent the last year learning that I must shed the idea that pastors have all the answers and everyone else keeps growing for a lifetime. I finally realized how ridiculous this idea was when someone said to me: "You have all the answers. You've been doing this for 22 years!" I thought, "What about the lady who's been doing this for 50 years?"