One of the primary two feelings I've had thus far can be described as "plagued by woeful inadequacies." I guess one word for it all would be "insecure." What is interesting is that other primary emotion I have been experiencing is "joy." It plays out in my daily life as a feeling of happily just getting by and waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I have a job that I enjoy. I wash windows. I get to work outside and sweat to earn a living. I get to show up at a certain time, clock in, have 'x' amount of work ahead of me, complete the work, have the satisfaction of a completed job (one client yesterday genuinely gasped when she saw the quality work that I had done), clock out, and go home. It's simple, I feel joy while doing it, and I am blessed to have it. All of my co-workers are other seminary students and we have a blast working together, joking around, getting to know each other, encouraging each other, giving advice, and having fun.
I feel insecure in that my window washing skills are lower than the other guys who have been doing it for months or years. I fear that I work too slowly and that if I don't improve my time I will be fired eventually. I fear that my having to work during the summer is hindering my study of Greek and that even though I only work 8-10 hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays I am sapped of energy for the rest of those days, and I miss the group study sessions and am unprepared for the tests. I fear that I am not making enough money per month NOW during the summer and that when the fall semester starts I'll not be able to work enough hours to pay rent and buy food each month. I fear that I'll either go completely broke or I'll have to extend my three year degree into four years (which only adds a another year of rent and food).
I enjoy studying Greek. I was blessed to have a very very basic understanding before I got to class (knowing the alphabet and some words before I got there helped a lot). It's exciting to be in a class full of people trying to learn it together. It's amazing that I'm now able to read parts of the New Testament in the language that God choose to reveal it in, and not only is that delightful, but we are already seeing the translational, theological, and practical value in being able to do so. I am making progress.
I am insecure about the amount of progress I'm making. It's difficult for me because it's unlike anything I've done academically in a long time. It calls for a lot of memorization. It is not creative work. There are right answers and there are wrong answers. This kind of rote, hard, and mechanical learning is not something I've experienced recently. Even in History classes at Muhlenberg I at least got to write papers and creatively find connections and approach it freshly. The last time I took a test was my first semester of my junior year. It was the only test I took that year and it was for my "Theory and History of Magic Performance." I've always been able to "wing it" and get good grades, but now that I'm in graduate school I feel inadequate intellecutally. I worry that I don't know how to study for a test (like the big one coming up in an hour and a half) and I worry that others are doing much better than me (some are, some arn't). I worry that if I don't master this now, it's going to catch up to me throughout my seminary education.
I enjoy going around St. Louis and trying out new churches. I've seen four very different churches thus far and it's been a real pleasure being welcomed to them all, expirencing different worship styles, and comming under some excellent teaching.
I feel insecure about picking the "wrong church." I worry that which church I choose will affect what internships I can do and ultimately what job I might get. I worry that I won't be able to commit time to getting invovled in a church and getting to know the people and to care for them there.
I enjoy meeting new people. Covenant has surrounded me with a wonderful community of people who care about me, take me out to meals, invite me to hang out and play games, people who study with me, and ask me how my day is going. It's truly wonderful.
I feel insecure being single and so young. I worry that my older roommates all have tons of friends and so easily interact with them. They are interesting and fascinating people with great stories and strong chrasima and I feel inadquet socially.
This list could go on and on, and I think I've been living these last few weeks, just waiting for the other shoe to drop, for me to fail a test, to run out of money, to get fired, to be shunned, etc. In the midst of that all, I've spent less time in prayer, I've spent less time reading God's Word, I've withdrawn from people here and from people back home. I've dispared over bad test grades and been prideful over good quizzes.
Two Sundays ago the preacher gave an awesome sermon. He was preaching through Luke 8 (verses 26-39) and was expositing what he called, "The Absurd Calling of Christ." He showed how the Bible declares that there is an insanely difficult task ahead of every Christian. How we are tasked with the great commission and asked to do uncomfortable things. Ultimately, however, all we are asked to do is declare how much God has done for us (bear witness) and share the simpleness of the Gosple (you are worse than you ever thought you are, you are more loved than you are capable of imagainging, and God is making all things new). In the text we see that the only qualification the first missionary ever had was that he had been in the presence of Jesus; he knew God and loved Him.
The preacher had an aside in the middle of his sermon. He said, "For any seminary students here today this text has something to say to you. If you don't leave seminary weaker than when you came, then the school hasn't done it's job."
It was a powerful claim. I've already felt a weakening of myself here.
Feeling adequete is a great way to deny your need for grace. Feeling secure in yourself is a fast track to never relying on God. Being strong is a sure-fire way to reget the benefits of knowing God fully.
Instead of seeing my weakness and turning to God, it's easier for me to dispair. Instead of seeing the seminary of "doing it's job" I'm tempted to think that I should leave. Instead of being desparate for God's pleantiful goodness I keep trying to come up with ways to wing it.
All that just goes to show that I'm just a mess in need of a savior.
I'm actually really happy here.