To say the least, yesterday was overwhelming. On one front, we learned definite articles and adjectives in Greek this morning, which transformed the class from completely manageable to a complete mystery. To be corny, it’s now all “greek” to me. (ohhh where has my brain gone?) Also on my mind was the decision as to whether or not I wanted to take Greek Pass/D/Fail or for a letter grade. Both options have their positives and negatives, and if it were all up to me, I’d just take it for the pure mental exhilaration of it. However, the decision as to whether I can take a class for a grade or not isn’t entirely up to me. When I entered seminary, I had to declare whether or not I was interested in what we call here “ordination track.” What this means is that I am on track to be ordained into a ministry position after seminary ends in three years. Because of this, most decisions that I make regarding class selection and extracurriculars are basically at the mercy of either the seminary or my classis/denomination. But my life rocks even more in that because I selected to attend a Presbyterian seminary (as opposed to RCA’s equivalent seminary 15 miles down the road – New Brunswick Theological Seminary), I can’t deal just with my classis (or in Presbyterian terms, my presbytery), I must also deal with a 3rd party that will evaluate the seminary’s ability to prepare me for ministry, and my readiness to serve in a church. I would love to say that most people only have to deal with a regional church body (such as a classis or presbytery), but I honestly don’t know whether or not this is true. But in my case, in order to get the approval to take certain courses, I have to get not only the approval of the seminary and my church’s regional governing body, but also the approval of an “outside” group as well.
It was this that most stressed me out, or rather overwhelmed me today. Unlike Smith, PTS doesn’t have individual academic for its students, which means that you are basically on your own to coordinate with your classis and the degree program you’re a candidate for to schedule and register for classes each semester. As I might have mentioned prior, I get the amazing opportunity to register for my first semester in 2 weeks. However, as a pre-Junior (a pre-first year essentially), we are here earlier than everyone else, and on top of this, we have the same amount of guidance as those that aren’t on campus yet – NOTHING! hahah well, limited guidance, perhaps not nothing. So, we are on our own to talk to your classis reps and figure out what classes we can take for the degree and what we should take to get ordained. Doesn’t this sound like every reason why I went to seminary in the first place? Obviously…not.
However, something I have learned as a result of all this stress is that the things I worry about most – meaning the future, most specifically at the moment – are the exact things that I shouldn’t be worrying about. In other words, I’ve come most recently to the conclusion (or rather the realization) that I came to Princeton Theological Seminary because it is where God wants me at this point in my life. I couldn’t feel more certain about that fact now that I’m here. I worried for so long about how to pay for seminary so that it wouldn’t incur anymore costs for my parents, and just when I thought that I’d have to pay full freight, an amazing scholarship offer came through. Each and every time I’d worry about something coming together, God would open another door (or window) and amazing new and unforeseen opportunities arose. Is this what faith is all about? That’s a question I’m not entirely sure I have the answer to. But at this point in my seminary journey (of course, bearing in mind that I’m literally at the very beginning and still have a long road to walk), I feel as though I’m here because of the hard work I put in, but also because this is the way my life is supposed to go right now according to God’s plan for my life. It is especially interesting that this is coming out of my mouth (or rather my fingers), after all that I tried to reason out last semester (let alone last year) and all that happened leading up to my leaving SCF.
Much of why I left in the first place had to do with the fact that I wasn’t sure where I stood on the concept of God’s will versus free will, and more importantly, whether I believed that I needed to “give everything up to God” in order to be a good Christian. It’s extremely hilarious how themes reoccur when you thought that they were dealt with, putting them away – hopefully forever. But here again, the concept of allowing God to take the wheel when it comes to my future is an extremely frightening concept for someone like me. I was raised to be an independent and headstrong woman who always took charge of her future. To rather blindly surrender my faith to this “God” guy who is highly talked about but hasn’t performed any miracles on my front lately seems simply outlandish. But in an obscure way, that is what faith is at its core – it is about surrendering the things that are the hardest to yield, with the understanding that everything will be ok as a result. Obviously, sometimes things don’t turn out to “be ok” according to our standards, but in God’s eyes, what happens instead is far better, even when it isn’t. Every time God acts in my life, good or bad, is for the better in both His eyes and in mine, as there is something new to learn around every corner, over every mountain and under every rock.
So what’s the lesson I’ve learned through all this? I suppose the biggest thing I’ve learned is that I don’t need to consistently be concerned with what my future’s going to look like; I’ve worked hard for the past four years to arrive at this point, and now it is time to sit back and enjoy what I’ve worked for. Ok, maybe not sit back and relax, because based upon what I’ve heard from middlers and seniors, seminary is no walk in the park by any means. But what is more important now is rebuilding my faith and in the process, placing more of my faith, and trust (and therefore my future) in God’s hands. After all, I’m not entirely sure that I’d be here at PTS if not for God’s hand in my life. And for all of y’all that know me well, that’s a huge step for me faith-wise! I absolutely can’t wait to see what else is in my future! Or rather, what else God has planned for my life. But for now, I can’t wait to see what God has planned for my tomorrow.