As my seminary excursion is headed for a close next semester, I find myself with an increased inability to describe exactly how these past five years have been. Juxtaposed to new friendships, great opportunities of learning and rich fellowship has been some pretty intense personal upheaval. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if I had a picture of how rocked my boat would have been I probably would have stayed anchored in Rhode Island. It has been the best of times and the worst of times.
Disappointments, failure, broken dreams, uncertainty, unanswered prayers.
While I am immensely appreciative of the shake down I received to cut loose some long-held baggage, it’s left me a bit shaken. Shaken in my ability to make sound choices, shaken in certainty of my direction. An unfortunate employment situation has left me even more shaken in my confidence in my abilities. Shaken as a face unemployment, downgrading my resume and trading off some long held components for something else more suitable, hopefully aligned with seminary pursuits. Maybe I’m not as smart, or articulate or as accomplished as I thought. I’m walking that fine line between critical evaluation and crashing confidence. Surely, I have much to offer but also wanting to be honest.
And I cry to the Lord, ‘what has all this been about? Why is there so much uncertainty so close to graduation? Why all this loss and failure? Where are you taking me? Why have you not answered my many prayers, turned things around by now and restored the years the locust have eaten?’ I weep. I grope. I question. I battle feeling like a loser.
But the one place I find solid ground is the resting place in Christ. I’m learning this is where I win, because he already won. In my imperfection, I can rest on His perfection that yields fruit over time. In my uncertainty, I can hope in his certainty that the Father knows exactly what is going on and exactly what he is doing and exactly how this will work out. I can only see through a very dim glass that at times has fogged to minimal visibility. But at the same time with clearer vision. Continue reading
The fall semester has started and I’m finally taking that biblical counseling class that I intentionally saved to the end because I was so opposed to taking it. But the last 5 years in seminary have been interesting…um challenging…ok exposing. Now I’m actually looking forward to it! I was reminded of a rather vulnerable piece I did at Parchment and Pen that described my transition and reasoning. More fitting my blog though, so I’m moving it here:
Confessions of a Torn Dichotomist (July 26, 2012)
Our humanity matters. It matters to the Lord and it matters in our Christian walk. I have not always recognized this or believed it. Like most Christians, I have been taught through scripture and reinforced through teachers that Christianity meant being more Christ-like, more spiritual, more conformed to who I was called to be. It meant recognizing that I’m a new creature in Christ, redeemed, forgiven, transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God. It meant forgetting those things that were behind and pressing forward to grab hold of why the Lord grabbed hold of me. It meant learning, growing, serving, fellowshipping, giving, and maturing.
Now that’s all fine and good, certainly scriptural and commanded. We have the earnest intent to move forward in the Lord, that is until our humanity gets in the way. And even when it does, it is easy to spiritualize what ails us. It’s an attack of the enemy, a sin that needs removal, a lack of conformity to who we were called to be. In order to be a good Christian, we keep moving in, keep pressing and holding on. We rely on the Holy Spirit’s power, yet there is struggle, lots of struggle. Depending on what kinds of things we are dealing with in our humanity, the struggle can be more severe for some than others. There is a reason for this.
I’ve come to learn that when life happens, things impact us. The more bad life happens the more badly it impacts us. Try as we might to conform or in same cases, just perform, it can seem like an uphill battle. But in order to walk fruitfully in our Christianity, the worst thing we can do is ignore the issues that plague our humanity. Why? It is who we are and how we have been impacted by life. Continue reading
This is a personal entry that I hope can be of benefit for those struggling with discontentment.
“If I could just be content” I’ve repeated that one line more times than I care to count. After all that is what Paul said,
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I’ve learned what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:11-13).
He was needy. He had deficits. It wasn’t easy and it certainly wasn’t fair. He could have mired in discontentment. He could sit around and have a pity party for himself. Yet he said he had to learn contentment. As a side note, this is the context in which he says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. His statement points to being content when there is need. This is what Christ strengthens him to do.
We should not fool ourselves in thinking that deficits and unaddressed needs don’t bother us and put the whammy on our souls. But the bigger question is how do we treat them? Learning contentment in discontenting circumstances is often a difficult task and slow process. But what I’m discovering is that it is the only way towards contentment when you want to do otherwise. Continue reading
I came across this wonderful article yesterday that spoke of the consequences of marrying the wrong kind of person. It can have a harmful impact on the marriage, emotional and even physical health. Even dating the wrong people can have this impact. Trust me, I know. Pretty much everything on the list resonated with me.
I think articles like the one I posted are good. But one thing I’ve noticed, is that its always addressed to young, never been married people who most likely had stability growing up and ability to make wise choices. But sometimes, stuff happens in life that distorts the colander, creating ill responses and bad choices. When you’re young and full of romantic dreams, you don’t realize how life events can really impact you. This is especially true for those who have experienced loss and brokenness at a young age. You can go through life and respond to buttons that create all kinds of compromise. That was my story.
I’ve been widowed since 2004, but I have a long history of relationship errors and choosing unwisely. From time to time, I reflect on an area in my life that I consider a thorn, especially since I long one day to finally get it right. Actually, it finds a way to prick me, especially when I least expect it. I spent many, many years in a cloud repeating mistakes and wondering why I remained unloved. In fact, one of the most challenging aspects of my seminary experience was an excavation process that exposed the root causes of those choices (along with a couple of relationship flops). It’s been quite painful especially being in a context where love and marriage blossom.
Running away from bad news is difficult for women with low self worth and esteem. When women don’t understand their worth, the compromising soon follows. The red flags that are slapping them in the face are nothing more than mere tickles that can be ignored. I suppose this happens to men also, but I do see it more prevalent in women. Continue reading
Today was a bit of a milestone and one that I’ve looked forward to for quite some time. I registered for my final semester of seminary, or at least the ThM program (meaning there may be a possibility for the PhD program). Well, I still have to complete everything: this semester, thesis and the remaining 5 classes that will be taken this coming summer and fall. But it signifies that the end of something is near and the transition to a new chapter is on the horizon.
As I’ve wrote about in Cracking the Door to 2013, I approached the flip of the calendar with much hesitation. Unbeknownst to me during the celebratory zeal of my acceptance and preparation for the move to Dallas in 2008, I had no idea how personally trying the next 4 years would be. Nothing could have prepared me for the intensity of personal trials and stark contradictions. No need to rehash but I think I’m in a far different place then I was that first day in August 2008.
I have suspected for some time that 2013 would mark a transition in multi-faceted ways, a time to turn the corner. Aside from wrapping up the ThM program, I don’t really know much in the way of details. But I’ve suspected that it also meant an employment transition. When I found out I was accepted to seminary, I kind of carried my profession with me. God really opened that door for me to have a good part-time position with a good mission to address the root causes of poverty and placed me among some wonderful people. Continue reading