Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Support in the Process

Just a little while ago I left a Hebrew study group feeling a bit....frustrated.  I will leave it to the readers discretion to know whether "frustrated" is the right word to describe feeling so overwhelmed that I was moved to tears and wondering if this class will be the one that ends my seminary education and candidacy process. 

Language has never been my thing.  In undergraduate, it took four attempts and a very generous extra credit project to fulfill my language requirement.  The exhaustion and sense of overwhelming I have about language followed me to Greek last year.  I remember thinking my second semester that I felt so much at home and joyful about my education.  In hindsight, I realize now that the joy probably came from being out of my first semester when I was pounding Greek flashcards every night.

So this evening, feeling "frustrated", I came home and do something I always do when I'm upset - I cleaned.  I did my dishes, changed my cat's litter for the second time today, emptied my fridge and scrubbed my bathroom sink.  There is something about the work of cleaning that gives me space to think, and quite frankly, calm down.

As I was scrubbing away, I gained a little perspective.  Yes, today was another challenging day in the world of vocab learning.  But that's not all today was.  Today I read a lovely blog written by my dear friend.  Today I was the assisting minister in chapel where my biggest mistake was dropping a microphone (I count that as success!).  Today I had lunch with three friends and had spare time to squeeze in a nap.  By all accounts, it was a really good day.  

Most importantly, when I was feeling overwhelmed in my study group, thinking that Hebrew was my ultimate nemesis, I had three friends there reaffirming me.  Supporting me.  Not thinking it was at all bizarre that I was feeling pressure.  Upholding me in Christian love when that pressure seemed like too much to bear and brought me to tears. 

It can be easy to lose perspective when you are trying so hard to learn something and it isn't going as well as you'd like.  It is in those moments not to lose sight of the forest for the tree, and even when you do, know that the people who love you will support you in the process. 


  1. Hi Tina!

    Languages can be unsettling. They were for me, both in seminary and in graduate school. One seminary professor told me I should not be a pastor if i could not master the biblical languages, because I would not be able to preach faithfully. When I interviewed for my current position, one of the questions was about my ability to read Hebrew. I answered honestly that I can't and was told that this made me a sinner. We get stuck here. Like you, I had friends who would not let me. I now look back at language classes with a (albeit painful) smile and cling to memories of those friendships as signs of God's grace.

    I am thinking of you as a gracious and faithful assisting minister, who took her role, both in planing and leading worship, so very seriously. I am recalling your prayers, which clothed meaning in beauty and truly asked God to do for us, rather than asking God to help us do. I happen to know that the presiding minister genuinely felt assisted. And is grateful.

    For those "tasting and seeing," we all find our hurdles in seminary. For some of us it is Hebrew and Greek. For others of us it might be getting out of the exegesis to connect with people. Yes, we all find our hurdles in seminary, and we all find our gates to serve God, love neighbor, and carry the Gospel to the world, all in the life of the church. I am mindful of something I heard in Scripture this week: "Everyone will be salted with fire." Everyone will also be graced.

  2. Thank you so much for your supportive and kind words! This is touching and humbling in more ways than I can express.