You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain

Maybe it’s a cheesy title…but I’ve been reflecting on my last post and the many responses I got from people who could relate to my difficult season in seminary. And after releasing those thoughts and emotions into the atmosphere with a deep exhale, my next inhale brought relief and gratitude.

Yes, I wasn’t lying when I said the last three years have been treacherous. But there have been some pretty darn good things about the last three years as well.

Most obviously, one of the deepest longings of my heart was fulfilled when I met and married my husband, Charles. I prayed and waited and clung to promises for a long time and then God finally said it’s time. Again, might be cheesy…but I can’t find adequate words to describe the love I feel for Charles. It is nothing like I could have even imagined or dreamed. My soul has been interlocked and fused to another soul and everyday I thank God for the gift of marriage to my best friend.

Another thing, God gave me community. It was risky to move to a new city only knowing a handful of people. The first six months were really really hard but then my seminary advisor introduced me to a pastor of a small church plant, saying she thought it’d be a good fit for me. (I think she’s kinda prophetic). After almost a year of living in Phoenix without much community and a lot of loneliness, I walked into a small community that instantly felt like family. Even though the church stopped meeting over a year ago, lots of babies have been born, and some people have moved away or gone to different churches, our community has fought to remain close and intentional.

I’ve made so many amazing new friendships and deepened family relationships. I’m incredibly grateful for that. Yes, the last three years have been different than any other season of my life but God has been ever faithful.

I didn’t lose my faith in seminary. I found how to hold onto God when everything around me and inside of me was shaking. I found a way to be grateful, present and aware of goodness even when God’s voice seemed faint and God’s presence seemed distant.

I’m not the same person I was when I started seminary over three years ago. I’d actually be a little worried if I hadn’t changed through this process. But I can let go of who I used to be and embrace who I am now. I can be kind to myself and accept the place I am at today. I can be grateful for the journey and look forward to the future.

I said it before and I’ll say it again, this is not the end.

 

Advertisements

Seminary or Cemetery: I get it now

When I decided to pack up my car and move away from my vibrant community at a gracious organization that let me try and fail in order to live out my passions…I didn’t realize exactly what I was doing. “It’s exciting and unknown,” I thought.

When I applied for seminary so I could be better equipped to teach the Bible and found out that I was accepted while sweating my face off in India…I didn’t realize exactly how much I’d miss that life I was living.

After three years and five months, I will be officially finished with seminary and walking away with an Mdiv in one hand and a lot of obscurity and disappointment in the other hand. To be clear, I don’t regret anything. I wouldn’t go back and change any of it. But what I didn’t realize four years ago was that I was about to follow God into one of the most difficult journeys of my life so far and I was not prepared for it.

This journey hasn’t been difficult because of all the reading or the papers or the tests or the grades. It’s been difficult because as I look back at the woman who embarked on a new path with high hopes, wild passion, and fierce ambition…I can’t recognize her anymore and I don’t even know where to find her. So much feels lost, shredded, demolished and what is left is an empty shell. Something inside of me died while I was in seminary and the loss is grievous. The emotions pile high when I realize that I can’t go back to who I was before and I can’t become ignorant again.

But my hope is this: my God is a God of resurrection. my God is a God that makes all things new and breathes life into a valley of death filled with cracked and dry bones. I am assured and confident that this is not the end and that God is not finished. I even find hope in the fact that God is not surprised or worried by my condition. I find peace in knowing that God is not a passive observer watching me drown but is actively tilling, watering, pruning and caring for the garden of my soul.

Again, I want to emphasize that I do not regret the last 3.5 years. I just didn’t know what I was getting into. It’s like watching a movie and knowing about the coming struggle before the characters, screaming at the screen pleading with them to turn around or make a different choice. We all want to avoid the struggle if possible. We all imagine and hope for an idyllic pain-free life, even though we know the chances of going through life unscathed are slim.

Whether you follow God or not, life will be hard at times. Whether you live for yourself or live for God, the chances for pain and struggle are still high. The difference is that with God, nothing stays dead and nothing is wasted. There is hope for resurrection and new creation. The power of life and making something out of nothing is not found in myself or my achievements – but in God.

So I continue to put one foot in front of the other and take one step at a time. Where is God calling me? I don’t know. What am I passionate about? I’m not so sure right now. But in all things, God is faithful to me and I know that I can trust the daily guidance of the Holy Spirit. One day at a time, the joy of my salvation will be restored to me and passion will begin to bubble up again. Living water will gush forth and I will be satisfied.