Today’s post is the first from our Kindle Contest winners.
I’m pregnant. Well, not in the real sense.
Allow me to explain. You see, I’m a newly-minted seminarian and I’m dealing with the reality of what I wrote as part of my admissions essay this past fall and the reality of what I’m experiencing in my first semester of study. What I’ve quickly discovered is that I have something growing—intellectually and spiritually—inside of me. It’s new, it’s mysterious and—while I’m excited about it—I’m also a little anxious. And, like a pregnancy, I have both good days and not-so-good days. On the good days, I feel I am right where God wants me to be. On the bad days, I wonder if I ever really understood my faith to begin with.
In the application I submitted, I shared the hopes I had for a seminary education. What value did I ascribe to it? How might I envision using what I learn at seminary to respond to what I see as God’s call on my life? In reflecting on these questions, I was reminded of the adoption journey that my husband and I started nearly a decade ago. The process was long and was emotionally draining at times. Among the myriad of reports, forms, interviews, and profiles we completed during the adoption process, we were asked to consider and share what we thought it meant to be parents and how we might go about raising a child to be a productive, healthy and caring individual in society.
Well, needless to say, what a person thinks beforehand and what a person actually experiences can feel miles apart. (Our two beautiful children can attest to that!) This isn’t to say that what I penned on my seminary admission essay was false. Indeed it is still very much true. It’s just that the reality of what I’m experiencing is far more profound than anything that I could have put to paper. For instance, I shared that I expected to be challenged and, well, let’s say I haven’t been disappointed on that front! From church history and doctrine to exegetical approaches and more, I’ve encountered thoughts and views and ideas that are somewhat new to me. And, where I might have envisioned a gently flowing stream of ideas and issues has instead become the intense spray of an opened fire hydrant. Is it a bad thing? Not at all. It’s just a bit overwhelming when you are still trying to get a handle on the location of all the bathrooms! Another hope I had going into seminary was that I could find kindred spirits—those with whom I could travel with on the journey. And, in that respect, I’ve not been disappointed.
As with any pregnancy, it comes to an end. In seminary, I sense it occurs either through the birth of one’s refocused theology, strengthened and tested through the course of examination and study, or it may end with an abandonment of all things theological. My prayer is that I can ultimately emerge from this journey with a strong conviction of who I am as a child of God and how I might share the joy and the beauty of this loving, growing thing called faith.