Dear Seminary Student,
Maybe this is your first year. Maybe this is your last. Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle, wondering when it’s going to end. Maybe you haven’t even started yet but the anticipation is killing you. Whatever your situation may be, I must tell you: you can do this. It may not happen your way or in your timing, but you. can. do. this. The God who instilled in you a passion for ministry, love for theology, and the desire to make His work your life’s pursuit will give you the grace to make it through. Even when the semester doesn’t turn out how it should, whether it be bad grades, dwindling finances, or personal conflicts, I can promise you this: it. will. be. okay. Do not give up, do not quit. Even when it seems like the end will never come, just. keep. going.
On August 28, I received my diploma (and a tassel). A diploma I was supposed to receive on May 5 as I marched with my friends and colleagues on graduation day. But I did not receive my diploma, I did not march, I did not get all the pictures in my regalia I had planned on, and there were no celebrations. Instead, I mourned. Mourned an excruciating semester that ended with a GPA that was .09 away from letting me walk and receive my diploma. Mourned pride lost and a degree that seemed so far out of reach. People kept telling me during that awful week that God has brought me this far and he wasn’t about to abandon me now, but in the mind of a girl who was supposed to have the most perfect weekend ever (graduate with my MA on Friday, marry the love of my life on Saturday), that wasn’t true anymore. But here’s the thing: it was. God never left me behind. He has walked with me through the most trying parts of life and in those horrible moments when I learned I would not be graduating he was right by my side. And he stayed with me this summer as I worked through the emotions that come with missing the mark and not graduating. He stayed with me through my six week online class as I fought for the grade that would give me a graduating GPA. And he stayed with me as I took that final exam and submitted that final paper and was finally able to say it. is. finished.
Seminary is hard. It brings you to the end of your strength and then takes you further. You will sit through lectures you understand perfectly and others that go straight over your head. You’ll drink endless cups of coffee, lose sleep, forget what day it is at least once a week, and know your textbooks better than you know your friends. You will wonder sometimes if its worth continuing (spoiler alert: it is). Seminary is also wonderful. You will be taught by professors who have spent their whole lives devoted to God and his word. You will sit next to classmates with similar goals and passions. You will be immersed in the study of God’s word and I can’t think of anything better than that.
Some of my best memories were made in the walls of the seminary building. It was there that I grew, changed, learned, and lived. I made friends and had favorite professors. I was challenged greatly and while I didn’t always love it in the moment, I knew that it was so I could learn (and I always appreciated it after the fact). Although I am do not have any active plans to pursue another degree (maybe in a couple years), I sincerely miss being in seminary. It is a unique opportunity to spend years of your life solely focused on learning more about God’s word and how to study and teach it. Seminary was an experience I will always cherish and will never forget.
There were days I wanted to give up. I was ready to quit in my first semester. But by God’s grace, I didn’t quit. He kept me moving when I didn’t know how to move. He kept me awake when the coffee stopped working and he put me to sleep when I needed it more than I needed to study. Through the tears and the joys, through the pain and the victories, our sovereign, loving God was with me. I know the semester has started back up for many and I know syllabus week can get really overwhelming really quickly. Please don’t forget that the sovereign, loving God who rules the world cares for you. He knows what you’re going through and he cares. By his grace (and only that), you will make it through.