What do you hear when pastors and church folk hear that you are coming to seminary?
“Go ahead and call your counselor. You’re going to need her before you’re through.”
“I think they just try to tear you down so they can put you back together the way they want you before you leave.”
“No one gets through seminary without an existential crisis. Go ahead and plan on completely losing it right before midterms so you aren’t surprised when it happens.”
“Whatever you do, don’t let them steal your Jesus.”
It feels a lot like what happens when people hear that you are pregnant. Suddenly, everyone has a horror story that they feel the need to share, and each one makes you more angry and indignant. Like a first time mom with a perfectly crafted birth plan, you think you know just exactly how everything will happen while you are in div school and maybe you do…
I, on the other hand, find myself in a heap, the week after midterms (thank you very much), feeling like someone just kicked the bottom out of my theological jenga tower and wishing that I called my therapist about two months ago. If this were a physical pregnancy, I’d be broken down on the side of the interstate about to deliver with nothing but dental floss and a hand towel right about now. This is definitely not going according to my plan. But here’s the thing – there are very few constants in birthing anything (babies or theology) aside from the mess, the pain, and something called transition.
Transition is the point in all labors where the real pain sets in. What seemed like manageable waves of pain before suddenly feels drowning in the undertow. It is the point where all rational thought leaves you and you start bargaining with anyone who will listen. It is the point where you are almost sure that bringing this new thing into the world will actually kill you.
This is where I am. In a state of theological transition. It hurts like hell and if I didn’t know better I’d be pretty sure that it might actually kill me. I am naked, vulnerable, and terrified – laid bare before God. What started as a call out from the void has now brought me to this terrifying precipice and I know whatever happens next will change me forever.
Thankfully, transition is also the shortest part of labor–the last physical boundary that must be crossed before you push new life into the world. It is also the part where (hopefully) your people show up to cheer you through. And show up they have. No matter how scared I am, how hurt, or exhausted, there seems to always be someone to grab my hand, to whisper encouragement, or to help me refocus. As hard as the work of bringing my personal theology and my truest self into the world is, I know that I am not alone. I have no idea what this new creature is going to look like or require of me. For the first time in my life though I know that whatever it is, it will be welcomed and celebrated when it gets here by the community around me. After all, birth is a community process and community is what WakeDiv is all about.
Nicole is mom to two beautiful girls, the wife of an awesome husband, and a first year Div student. She finds solace in preparing food and loves a good story.