My third year of seminary started on a hopeful, wonderful note that gave no indication of what was to come. I had just experienced two months off from school, so I was only working during that time. This meant I had time to really rest in the evenings and to travel to see friends. It was the best summer of my life, and I had great hopes for the coming semester. Seminary started on the Tuesday after Labor Day. That night, something terrible happened. A traumatic death occurred in my husband’s extended family. The situation is one that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
Knowing that the nature of this death and all it entailed was bigger than both of us, my husband and I reached out for help. Our pastor here in town, a counselor, and the seminary pastor were especially wonderful and helpful to us. I wondered, at the time, how I would manage seminary and my two jobs. However, I also have the kind of personality that needs life as usual to continue to help deal with things, so having work and school actually helped me a lot.
Now that the semester is over, I can see a lot of positives happened over the last few months. Not only did I see God’s strength and grace in my life as I dealt with personal issues, but I can say this semester was one of the best in terms of course content. I took a class on money and mission, the history of the Church up to the Reformation, relational ministry, and a unit of contextual learning. Through these courses I met wonderful people and studied subjects that I knew little about like church budgets and stewardship plans.
My fall intensive on campus was on relational ministry, and the format of the course really helped to bring some healing to my heart after a difficult few months. One of the lessons I took away with me, after talking to the professor, is that it is okay to feel uncomfortable and to accept that feeling. We don’t need to try to alleviate that discomfort right away, which can lead to numbing and bad choices. This is a counter-cultural concept that is deeply spiritual and fruitful. Sitting with our discomfort allows us to better comfort others and to learn to be more real and present in our relationships.
One of the most powerful moments from the fall semester was a storytelling night that happened while I was on campus for the intensive. Four people came forward in vulnerability and openness to share a story about a transformational relationship from their own lives. It was truly moving and life-changing.