I’ll admit this semester has hit me like a sack of bricks… I was totally unprepared for it. It is just a wee bit different having the semester work to take care of all the while tending to a young marriage. I haven’t really had much to think about other than that. Though, that’s not the reason for lack of blogging, it is just the sheer volume of reading and work needing to be done.
I’ve thought about where to go with this, either to express what I feel going forward or to express how I’ve felt about the past year.
I’ve chosen the latter:
I’ll be honest I haven’t gone back and looked through my thoughts on the semester as they were coming to me, but I am pretty sure I found the hope I expressed in the midst of dismay. How can I be certain? Because I really enjoyed last year. I’ve found a place, am growing and enjoying the relationships I have and the work to which I am moving.
It’s been exceedingly joyful. I have wrestled with trying to come to theological conclusions that I agree with, and before seminary that was difficult. I feel like the central truths I believe have always been pretty solid, but its the secondary and tertiary ideas that just seemed to be up in the air and not for any other reason than I just wasn’t in a place to be able to fully wrestle with them. Now in seminary I am able to do so, because I simply can’t not; the learning I am doing leads me to think about it and, me being me, can’t resist. I think it also helps to learn from professors of whom I agree with in certain things as well; they aren’t conservative fundamentalists nor are they disillusioned liberal fundamentalists (to top it all off they have an appreciation for psychosocial factors!) I’ll admit, it’s also a benefit feeling the freedom to logically disagree with some of their conclusions.
It was challenging, in so far as I encountered ideas and ideologies that had never crossed me before. I think the two that ring true most are how to move the nice idea of evangelism in the ideal setting of a classroom to the real (read un-ideal) world of the church and the notion of liturgy as subconsciously formative. Grades, of course, are challenging as well, but no need to go into that; I mean we all kind of get that.
Oddly enough the biggest challenge that I had was neither grades nor encountering new ideas, it was finding a place, a home if you will, at Candler. I remember the first several weeks I would attend chapel and would sit at the very top, primarily for two reasons. One: it was warmer up there and the sun would hit me. No lie, its freezing in Cannon Chapel, even in August. The other reason is I wanted to get away; when I don’t feel connected to the people around me in a meaningful way I find it stressful to be around them, especially during worship, because I enjoy worshiping among the community of which I a member. I do consider myself an extrovert (consequently so does the MMPI), but it is exceedingly exhausting trying to connect to people of whom you don’t know.
The chapel experience is merely symbolic of how I felt the first several weeks. Throw into that mix angst of whether I should have attended seminary elsewhere and you have one anxious month and a half. Luckily for me I stuck with it, but only because I remember, quite well, my experience the first month and a half at UNCG… it was the exact same. I wanted to transfer to UNCC, because I wasn’t connected yet to people and my experience was generally lonely and not enjoyable.
It is quite lonely feeling like a number.
Yet, I enjoyed my time at UNCG and have gained some life long friends because of that. In the same way, looking forward based on what I know now, I am quite certain the same experience awaits me. Angst is a part of life. When you head toward what you think is a cliff, you clearly know where the road ends and the shorter and shorter the road becomes the more mysterious the end becomes. You see no road and yet life must keep going, therefore angst because, “What happens when you reach the cliff?” Luckily, as I have met my cliffs I have always found that the road continues in some way, be it a bridge or a sharp turn.
What seems most odd is how faulty our memory becomes in times of angst. It’s the most magnificent tool that really works towards our (humanity’s) disadvantage. It fiercely drives us to our known certainties, which serve self-preservation, driving us inward and ultimately away from love and, thus, God. More so, it works all to well in erasing our memory; memories of God’s faithfulness, at the very most, and, at the very least, the support of family and friends. It even erases the memories of why we headed out in the direction we did in the first place.
So I am thankful for being able to remember and finding God’s faithfulness anew. I am also thankful for being able to find a group of like minded friends and finding a home in a place that I did not formerly have one. God is good and I will no doubt see that this semester and forever onwards.