I finished my first year of seminary this past Friday, and I’m still at 1% – even after three days of rest. I’m physically, mentally, and emotionally drained.
I expected a certain amount of mental fatigue since this is the first time I’ve taken a full load of classes in over a decade. I knew there would be a learning curve, not only with the academics themselves, but with re-learning to learn. How do I read critically again? How do I skim 175 pages in two days? What do I highlight and underline?
I even expected the physical exhaustion because using the brain can pull energy away from the rest of your body. I have had to think abstractly about the filioque, attempt to use what I learned of an ancient language, write a 54 page report, read the book of Revelation with an open mind, and memorize, memorize, memorize. And I can’t forget the papers I have had to write. And facts to recall. And names of long-dead white men. And the names of living revolutionary Latinas. And battlefields in France.
But honestly, I didn’t expect the emotional fatigue. I was told (as most seminarians have been) that I needed to make sure I didn’t lose my faith in seminary. I get it – I understand how this can ruin people’s beliefs about God, humanity, and creation. There are times when I have had serious doubts about the whole thing; I’m sure there will be many more in my near future. But the emotional fatigue comes from two places: first – in finally discovering who I am and who I can be, and second – learning how broken and needy this world truly is. It’s exhausting to leave class with a broken heart day after day. It’s exhausting realizing that I didn’t know that much about the New Testament. It’s exhausting letting go of long-held beliefs.
For now, all I can do is rest. All I can do is find comfort in God and what the Divine is choosing to do with me. I don’t have all the answers (and I for sure won’t ever have all the answers). But I can sit back, put my feet up, and acknowledge that God is doing something amazing with me even in this moment of being at 1%. I will find my charging station. I will find my outlet. I will be provided with occasions to fill up and give out and fill up again. May God give us opportunities to give until exhaustion and periods to recharge before giving again.
much love. sheth.