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Seminary true confessions

Last Thursday was my first day of seminary. I'd been waiting for this opportunity. I was excited about it. But as I got up in the darkness and got ready, one thought ran though my mind, and I expressed it to my husband: "I don't want to go."

What on earth was that about?

Last week at this time I was waiting for some test results. Early in February, I was experiencing some persistent chest pain, and I had lost weight without trying. Women at 50 don't usually lose weight without trying. It isn't fun to lose weight that way. These things were beginning to stir a little concern in me, especially as the wait between doctor's appointment and test dragged on, and then time between test and being given results dragged on. One's impatience and even the barest amount of internet research into symptoms can get an already over-active imagination working even harder.

Anxiety is a funny thing. It breeds more anxiety. You start to get anxious about being anxious. It's also something you don't want to whisper too loudly, because we Christians don't get anxious, no no, we don't. We must lack faith if we get anxious, right? 

My growing anxiety about these tests results spilled over into my attitude as I left for school that first day: what if I fail? What if I'm a bad student? What if I can't do the work? My anxieties grew even more as I went through that first day, as I listened in discussion to the other students talking. So many brilliant women. Quite providentially, one of the first passages we looked at as we practiced working with the text was Philippians 4:6-7. Each time we went through it, my conscience was pricked, and I thought about those verses a lot.

As I worked on my homework this week, preparing to hand it in, a good friend gave me an encouraging word about waiting for test results. She said that it was good that I had school to keep my mind on something else, especially because I was in the Word. That really jumped out at me. 

I've read about people who attend seminary talk about how the academics of it all can leave one forgetting what the heart of theological study is: knowing God more intimately. My purpose for attending seminary was to learn more about God, and I knew that, but I went into it with more pressure to be perfect that was necessary or desirable.

Doing a job well is something I always want to do. In fact, if there is any possibility I will really be bad at something, I don't do it at all. Hence, my reluctance to play laser tag. I went on one of those outings with my family in February, loathing every minute, because I'm terrible at shooting at things. And in all honesty, that's okay with me. I won't be doing it again.

I'm glad I went through the past few weeks of wondering and uncertainty about my health, because it really challenged me. Where is my faith? Is it in my ability to study well or produce well-written blog posts or bible study questions? If it is, it shouldn't be. My faith should be in Christ, and in His Word. My joy should be in the study of His Word, and how I want it to change me, not on getting an A. If I do, fine, but I think I'd rather not care so much if it means I'm missing the bigger picture: that the word is to be learned so that my mind will be renewed. That was my reason for going to seminary. Only three days in, and I was forgetting already. 

The good news is that my test results did come in, and it's something which can be treated quite easily with medication and diet modification. My tendency toward perfectionism can now be directed into researching these matters. In the meantime, as I prepare to hand in my first assignment tomorrow, I'm not going to give into the stress of thinking it has to be perfect. I believe I observed well, interpreted correctly, and put together some good questions. The best part is, one of the passages was James 1:1-18, about counting trials a joy. If my assignment is not as well-received as I might like, well, I guess I'll live with it. And I'll be glad of the lessons I've learned as I've studied. And I'll be praying that those lessons will grow in my heart.

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Reader Comments (2)

So glad to hear your test results didn't show anything too serious.
Enjoy your class. :)

March 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Bucknell

I'm glad that your test results came out well and that it was nothing serious.

April 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDiane W.

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