Tuesday, July 7, 2009

53 more days, and already, I'm wondering...

You heard it. Seminary orientation occurs in approximately 53 days, more or less. It's not top of mind, really. I could have procrastinated in thinking about it for at least a week or more. Maybe . . . not.

Except that today I received an email that got me thinking. I inquired about an online class and my adviser told me they don't usually let residential students take online classes. Which really, to tell the truth, made me want to bang my fists on the floor, just to let all the tension out before I carefully constructed a respectful reply.

Several months ago, I met with the admissions director and told him I was interested in a blended program, where I could take residential and online courses. He said that was a possibility, that they were flexible and could work with me, which, honestly, was one of the reasons I chose this seminary. (I live about 45 minutes away.)

From what I've read, most women who return to seminary later in life go between the ages of 40-55. I'm currently 36. (Hang in there, this is going somewhere...) I didn't happen to meet my life partner until age 34 (long story!), got married at 35, and now find myself staring longingly at two passions: the desire for motherhood and the desire to pursue ministry through seminary. I also do freelance writing on the side and very part-time chaplaincy work. All of which I consider to be God's good plan for my life.

Add to that some current hormonal woes, and presto . . . nothing is certain. And so lately people have been asking, "how are you going to do it all?" Which made me wonder how things might be different if I were a 36-year-old man attending seminary. Simpler. More straight-forward. With a heck of a lot fewer questions.

As you know, the comparison trap gets us nowhere, and clearly leads us away from God's good and unique plans for each of us. So I shook my head to clear the cobwebs and am trying to focus on just being me--the me who said yes in obedience to God's call to seminary and ministry and will continue to say yes no matter what the journey may bring.

As a chaplain and a friend, I've been ministering to a number of people lately who are going through difficult seasons in life. From my tongue and my pen have flowed Scripture and encouragement, comfort and consolation, hope and peace.

Tonight I remember the same promises I've been sharing and ask my heavenly Father to help me listen only for His voice. I do believe it is possible to hold what seem to be competing dreams in tension. I don't know if I will eventually have a child, or if my life-giving spirit will be poured out through relationship, teaching, chaplaincy service, and writing.

I do know that God is faithful. It's not a cliche. The Creator of the universe has literally sustained me a thousand times before through every kind of joy and trial. He's entirely good. And just this last year, over a period of months and a bevy of confirmations, He made it clear that He would like for me to attend seminary. Gulp.

Even when I am the only female in the class and I feel outnumbered. Even when I don't feel like telling my adviser I'm hoping for a child and may desperately need those online classes in the future. Even when I'm not sure how the next three years will roll, exactly.

He didn't ask me to tell the future. He just asked me to obey. And as this day ends, I feel a familiar peace settling in. From the outside looking in, my journey may not be linear and neat, tidy and predictable. But it will be entirely worthwhile. I am safe in the protective hands of my Abba-Father. There is nothing I desire more than to obey.

Have you as a woman ever fallen into the comparison trap? Do you have a story of how God called you to and equipped you to do something bigger than yourself?


  1. I am thrilled and excited to see how your journey unfolds. I celebrate with you the utterly predictable faithfulness of God - and applaud the determination I know it takes to hold competing hopes in the same hand. I'll be following every word you write...thanks for inviting us along. I'm so proud of you!

  2. I have to tell the truth. It was you, Leigh, who first helped me to understand that I am a lifegiver by nature--that is, married or single, mother or no, I have the same unique abilities every female has to nurture and give life. I owe you big time--as does every other woman with whom I have since shared your book, The Beautiful Ache. I'm so thankful for your journey and all I continue to learn from it. And am just tickled to have you along for this leg of mine!