I began my job as a campus host yesterday, and it struck me that exactly a year ago, I was dreaming of what my life would be, and whether or not it would include seminary. Little did I know (or perhaps I did know?) that I would end up at the very place I interviewed at! Obviously, a great amount has changed since my initial visit to campus, and seminary isn’t at all what I envisioned it to be like, but it still hits me that only a year ago, I was still seeking, hoping, praying, and even pleading with God to make this dream come true.
I wish I could say that I have been totally transformed in the last year, or that my first few months at seminary were a transformative experience, but I don’t think life works this way. My senior year of college was, at times, less than pleasant, but on the other hand, I was greatly changed by the friendships I made and built, and by the places I went and the things I did. But I don’t think that in a million years I would have ever imagined to be sitting in Princeton, New Jersey, on my way to becoming a whatever God wants me to be.
I entered seminary entirely convinced that God wanted me in Parish ministry, like my mentor, Cari. I have come to realize that my conception of what a call is was not only extremely naive, but also relatively undeveloped. And yes, while I have always been the person who has had her “whole life” figured out and put into nice, neat categories, for once in my life, I must admit that this is no longer important. To think that the various, amazing, unique, special, quirky aspects of my life belong in tiny boxes is not only naive, but also irrelevant. Life is messy, sometimes the peas blend in with the mashed potatoes, and stick to the steak (or tofu for my vegetarian and vegan friends), and there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH ANY OF THAT! Alright, so you may be questioning exactly what is going on at this point — what’s the deal with this self-reflection stuff? I guess most of this has to do with the future, or at least the immediate future. I came to Princeton so assured that I was supposed to be a minister in a big church somewhere in metropolitan America, probably on the East Coast, and that would be it. But how wrong I was, on so many levels. Y’all know the medical hiccups that have made my last few years a bit rockier, and I wish I could say that they are all behind me, but they aren’t. But in college, I wasn’t ever able to see the positive side behind my experiences. (if that is even possible in the first place…) Ordinarily, someone would blame God for their “pain and suffering” or illness, but deep down, I know that my faith has nothing to do with what has happened in the past. I have probably said this before, but I can’t believe that God wanted me to suffer for a specific purpose — that I was being punished for a grievous sin, or a wrongdoing against a fellow believer. To me, that just seems so purely irrational and naive — a type of faith that lacks theological depth, perhaps. In my eyes, the experiences I have accumulated over the past 5 years have not weakened me. Sure, they’ve been annoying, and there have been more times when I’ve prayed that God would just give me a break and pay attention someone else instead. But in reality, those moments/days of hospital stays, antibiotics, doctors visits to no end, were not God’s doing, or God’s will, but rather just a part of being human. Where God is in this, however, is in what happens after the storm is over. I could just stand up and keep plugging along without ever questioning what good these experiences could ever amount to, but I don’t think any growth would ever come from something like that. Rather, I have decided to ask the questions, seek out the hard answers. And in the process, I have come to one particular conclusion — that I am perhaps supposed to seek out hospital chaplaincy as a potential call for my life. Obviously, a call doesn’t just appear one day, but rather is the result of months, years, etc of seeking God and asking the tough questions, but most importantly, being patient and obedient. I wish I could say that I have never questioned why I have been through all that I have, but I have. But now, I have begun to see that perhaps, my purpose has been right under my nose for years, and I haven’t listened to God’s not-so-subtle hints of its existence. I can’t say for sure that this is my calling, but I know enough now to say that it is a path that I must pursue. Never before have I seen a positive outlet for my experiences, but now I’m beginning to see that I may have what it takes to become a chaplain. Who knows? Only time and God will tell!
For now, what to do? Well, now the time has come to begin to look for field education and CPE possibilities. I have gone down one way — I won’t say specifically what for fear of jinxing it — and so far, things are looking good in this direction. Lets just say that I may have a placement in a hospital for next summer, where I will be able to explore whether or not I am best suited for a life in a hospital — and NOT as a patient, but as a guide, someone to hold hands, comfort families and patients, and witness to both joy and sorrow on a daily basis. What could be better than that? I just can’t think of anything at the moment!
Quick prayer request, before I sign off. Next week, I’m supposed to undergo a medical procedure to determine perhaps a link between my food allergies, stomach issues and asthma. Pray that it goes well, and also, pray that it yields some answers, doesn’t matter what answers, but that something good comes of the whole thing! More news to come on that when I have some!
Much love to everyone! Be safe, healthy!