Seminary is getting the better of me. I’m taking four classes – that’s why I’m here in Texas – but there’s all this other ‘stuff’ that I have to do. I have to do my jobs to make money. I have to figure out where I’m going to do my SPM (internship in a church). I have to figure out how to do a CPE (internship in a hospital). I have to study for the BCE (Bible content exam). I have to begin to prepare for ordination exams. I have to move into the next step in the ordination process. I have to think about what I’m going to do when I finally graduate. I have to maintain friendships, relationships, and keep both my church and CPM (Committee on Preparation for Ministry) aware of my status. Oh, and try to pray, worship, and honor God at some point – that’s why I’m here on this planet.
It’s daunting for all of us in seminary…and those who say it isn’t are lying through their teeth. Many of us have cried – literally cried – because of the weight of this burden. We don’t know why there are so many steps. We don’t know what to do next. We don’t know if we’re going to make it. We don’t know if it’s worth it. We don’t know if there will be some respite from the onslaught of pressure to get it done.
The weight of the education is enough to challenge anyone. We’re wrestling with foreign languages, heady theological concepts, moral and ethical scenarios. We’re having old ways of thinking reluctantly swept from our minds and replaced with newer, more difficult ideas. Day in, day out, we’re being challenged intellectually and spiritually.
Before us there is a process that many of us have to go through, and just like Churchill’s description of Russian action prior to WWII, “It’s a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, but perhaps there is a key.” We’re given glimpses of this key – just a quick peek now and then – and immediately pushed to move forward. The steps required, as well as the reasoning for this process, are written in some ancient tome held in Louisville, Kentucky.
Placed on top of all of that is the future stuff – what are we going to do with all this newly-gained knowledge? How are we going to apply it? How are we going to change the world? While our families and churches have sent us here via a calling from God, there is a certain pressure to hurry up and finish in order to get out and make the world a better place. We are an investment and people are demanding their due dividends.
While I understand the need for pastors in churches, and that we shouldn’t be going through this process for a long, long time, I feel like putting the brakes on things and slowing it down a bit. It’s becoming too much. It’s not easy. It’s not helpful. It’s not enjoyable. While I’m continually hearing about discernment, calling, and vocational path, I am not able to even take a moment to understand, discern, or even look to see if I’m on the right path.
While classes are a bit easier and I’m getting into the rhythm of school, theology, and the academic-side of things, the process of it all is becoming more and more unbearable. I know I’ll survive…I know it’s part of the course…I know this too shall pass…but it’s damn difficult.
My God, grant me peace, hope and understanding of this enigma-mystery-riddle. God give me a vision of the bright future ahead! My God, give me more trust that it will work. And help me to rest.
much love. sheth.