Yesterday, I went to the seminary and turned in the last of my final exams. I now find myself on the other end of my first year, hoping against hope that I passed all my classes. I’d say this has been a challenging year, but that sounds too sanitized. I feel as though I’ve been completely broken down. I, along with all my assumptions about myself, my abilities, my conception of God, have been through the wringer. I keep trying to reassure myself that I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t experiencing this calling, and if this is where I’m supposed to be, everything will work itself out somehow.
This has been a challenging year for a number of reasons. First, This is the first time in 7 years that I’ve been on the other side of the classroom, and the first time in over a decade that I’ve taken courses not related to mathematics or computer science. My analytical brain has been rebelling at the subjective way that grades are done. I often felt I was trying to meet requirements and expectations without knowing exactly what they are.
Second, theology cannot be done without putting one’s heart, soul, and very life into it. I’ve cried more in the last 10 months than I have in a very long time. I found myself having to make peace with a lot of crap in my past. I grew up gay and Catholic in conservative suburbia, and often felt like I had no one I could talk to, except for God. I lost my best friend to suicide. I’ve spent the vast majority of my adult life unemployed or very underemployed. I’ve struggled with low self-esteem and depression. I have harbored feelings of resentment and failure about all this. I had to make my peace with all this, and I feel as though I’ve started to do so.
Third, these feelings of failure, and this transition from being in an analytic discipline, has meant that I’ve gone from not having to try to be an exceptional student, to having to work my ass off at being an acceptable one. My ego has been thoroughly deflated, and my pride slightly bruised. Trying to maintain my self-esteem through all this, which has at times been quite fragile, would probably be impossible without the love and support of my husband and friends.
Such things no doubt build character, and I will be a stronger person and better minister for this experience.
I just hope I passed History, and New Testament.