Wow, what a whirlwind the last 13 weeks have been. Final grades were posted last night, so I guess that means this first semester is in the books, and there is no going back. Let’s take some time to reflect on the lessons learned from this, my first semester in higher education.
First the stats:
- 200+ = Pages written
- 17 = Books read
- 100’s = # of hours spent on assignments
- 1000’s = # of hours of sleep lost
- 3.9 = GPA
The statistics, while doing an excellent job of illuminating the challenges of the seminary (and I’d dare say any graduate school) experience, do not adequately portray the transformation that takes place in one’s mind. They certainly do not expose the deep personal lessons that were learned of one’s own “growth edges.” The numbers also don’t reveal the strengths one didn’t know they possessed, made known through the constructive feedback of learned professors.
I went off to seminary thinking I was going to be learning about God and wound up learning about myself. I expected I would go off to seminary and struggle to pass my classes, merely hoping to achieve minimum scores, and wound up thriving. I went off to seminary fearing my weaknesses only to have God turn them into strengths. I went off to seminary expecting to learn complicated theological and doctrinal concepts and wound up learning the proverbial “meaning of life”.
What lessons did I learn this first semester?
- I learned a panoply of vocabulary words (panoply being one of them).
- I learned that 6th-century Benedictine monks argued about silly things.
- I learned that I have a love of writing and that my works are appreciated by others.
- I learned that God loves me so immensely that he gave his Son to repair my relationship with him (and your’s as well).
- I learned of evil.
- I learned of righteousness.
- I learned that God keeps his every promise.
- I learned that I have a support network made up of friends, family, and partners that sacrifice for me, but more importantly, for God.
- I learned that when God calls, you follow.
- I learned that I do not have to think of the words, God will provide them.
- I learned humility.
- I learned to get out of the way and let God work through me.
- I learned to recognize when I don’t do this.
- I learned I needed accountability partners for the times when I’m not being humble when I’m not getting out of the way, and when I’m not recognizing this behavior.
I could go on and on with the list of revelations experienced within the classroom of my mind, but so many of the lessons are between God and I. Besides, it’s time for me to get back to my homework for the class that starts in just a few days.
In summary, I went to seminary expecting to learn complicated ideas about God and religion but instead learned the most basic of lessons…
God is Love.
7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21 The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. (1 John 4:7-21, NRSV)