So, here I am. Finally at a place that feels more like moving forward than standing still. Not long after I stepped on this campus back in February, I knew that God was leading me here. Since then, I've been excited and nervous. But I had no idea until I actually moved here how many reasons I had to be both of those. If there are two things I've learned about the seminary experience so far, they are these: it is going to be so very good, and it is going to be so very difficult. When I say difficult, I am not speaking academically, though from the first class it was evident that it will be academically challenging. What I am talking about more is emotionally. There has already been such a range that I've experienced in the short two weeks that I have been here, and I expect to be put through the emotional ringer in my program. But while that may seem at first sight to be a bad or negative thing, I anticipate that it will be beautiful. I look forward to the continuing unfolding of my own story that began through counseling and community in Birmingham, and I look even more forward to the unveiling of who God is and how He wants me to be hands and feet.
Despite much richness, the past five years have been hard. Hard things have happened, I've been in hard places, and in hard relationships. I have been spiritually brittle. It has been more difficult than I anticipated for me to step into this environment, surrounded by people who seem so much surer of all this than I am. Having volumes of commentaries, and stories of successful ministries, and polished exteriors, and "praise Jesus" attitudes. All of those things are wonderful, but that just isn't where I am coming from. In orientation this week, one of the professors reminded us that competition has no place here. This isn't a place where we are crawling over one another to get ahead, but rather a place where we thank God for each other's gifts and encourage our brothers and sisters on toward faithfulness. After months of worry and a week of comparing myself to everyone I met, that was a refreshing, calming word. I breathed a long sigh of relief, and cried right there in orientation. If you know me, that is kind of a big deal.
All that to say, these three years are going to be full of beauty and heart ache. Joy and sorrow. Longing and fulfillment. I am anxious to see what awaits.