Thursday, February 28, 2008

Less Intense: A Follow Up

Two weeks ago I wrote a brief little post that simply said “Intense: That is about all I can say right now.” Indeed, that was about all I could say at that point. Not often found for a loss of words when given the platform, the said juncture defied what I claim as normalcy. Since that point in time I believe that I have arrived at this new frame: Less Intense. [As a sidebar: just prior to writing that little post I completed my first exam in which I was given the tiny little task of handwriting the biblical story from creation to new creation (Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 for you non-biblical theology types ) in 49 minutes or less. You know that feeling that you have just after you vomit anything and everything that your body says is needed or not needed? Well, now you begin to understand.]

I received several e-mails immediately following the aforementioned post (much to my surprise, I might add – who knew people read this thing!) Thus, for those who were concerned let me shed a little light into the time of my life that can most easily be described as “intense.”

Although I took a Jan-term course last month, my “official” entrance into seminary began a little more than four weeks ago. And from the word “go”, it has seemed to be an endless stream of reading, assignments, tests, more reading, planning, arguing, critical-thinking, more reading, and more reading. Just thinking about the sheer volume of the workload has been overwhelming to say the least – and that’s before I even get to work! All said, it has been a difficult time of transition over the past month and I am quite thankful that I can say that the month has now passed! In previous days I would have likely testified that as a result of my procrastination I have brought undue stress upon myself. Oh how I wish this were the case today! Unfortunately, the academic rigors of seminary life are not intended for the faint at heart or the procrastinator. I have really attempted to make wise use of my time and prioritize assignments by devoting more time to those that carry more weight, etc. However, given life’s circumstances this is simply not good enough and that causes my perfectionist personality to quiver. Yes, perfectionist AND a procrastinator – a lethal combination.

So, how do I get from “Intense” to “Less Intense?” Perspective. True, I have found some sort of a groove in which to glide, but the groove itself is more like a cheese grater, so it is not exactly comfortable. Thus, the Lord has been kind a gracious to me to bring back to mind that I must maintain perspective in my life. I can not put my marriage on hold for the next three to four years (or more should a PhD be in the future). I can not neglect all other forms of relationships outside of those whom I come into contact with in the library. I still need to eat – even though one class assignment included a 48-hour fast. I still need to exercise and maintain my physical health – which again, a class assignment will require me to run 5k (can you believe this!). All said, our Father has caused me to understand that if I am too busy “preparing for ministry” to the point that I have no ministry – particularly in the life of my wife – then I have missed the point altogether.

So, where does this leave me? It leaves me at a point where I have decided that I need to be content with something less than straight A’s. God has called me to ministry and I have an obligation to be a good steward of all that he sets before me. Therefore, A’s may not be what is best for my life. My perfectionism does not like this – in fact, it’s killing me - but it is not a matter of opinion, it is a matter of necessity. I need to understand that I have limitations and time constraints that will mean that I may not be able to read everything or put forth the amount of work required for the best grades. Does this mean that I am not taking seriously my call to ministry and thus a call to prepare? No. But what it does mean is that I am attempting to have a holistic view of life which does not relegate my educational aspect of my calling to its own dimension. My wife must be a part of my education which must be a part of my work which must be a part of me paying bills and mowing the lawn. In other words, life is that – life. It is all interconnected and therefore I would do well to merge all of its parts into one amalgam so that neither part is neglected or malnourished.

Life is still intense, but that little “less” makes it seem all the more worthwhile.

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