God calls us all to different paths, and as we travel these paths he provides for us in different ways.
It so easy to say “I had a lot of friends when I did my undergrad degree, why don’t I have as many friends in seminary?” Or, “Why am I not as popular as my neighbor down the hall?” Or, “Why aren’t there more women in seminary classes?”
My first semester in seminary was one of the hardest. We came in the middle of the year after the new people had already started cementing their friendships and there honestly weren’t very many women in my degree program. More men usually go to conservative seminaries than women. Of the women who attend DTS, most of them are single. A few are married.
The following semesters got easier but I was never the typical student. I walked up flights of stairs with a book laden back pack and a large pregnant belly… not just once, but for two pregnancies. And never once did any of my professors act like this was odd. A little unusual perhaps, but certainly not odd.
One NT professor joked, “I’ve always wanted to deliver a baby in my classroom but none of my pregnant students ever seem to go into labor during class.”
Every single professor I had at DTS proved exceedingly kind, gracious, and encouraging.
But sometimes I failed to see the obvious blessings all around me. Life is of course a mixture of good and bad for everyone, but I fixated on the negative—failed friendships, family struggles, health issues, or feelings of jealousy.
Sometimes God had to knock me in the head with a blessing to get my attention, and those moments won’t be forgotten.
In the midst of worrying about friendships and finances while expecting our first child, a few surprising knocks happened:
- I came home and found an anonymous envelope stuffed underneath our door with “Bowler” scrawled across it. I opened it to find cash tumbling out, and I wept because God provides in times of need.
- Around month 8 of my pregnancy, a good friend messaged me and genuinely asked how I was doing. I honestly admitted that we had only $20 to spend on groceries that week. She started bringing me a few groceries every week for the rest of my pregnancy. More tears.
- We received a Christmas card with a Kroger gift card signed “Jesus.” Eventually, I deduced which one of my friends was cheesiest enough to sign a card in such a manner 😉
- I opened our mail and found a money order from a cousin for several hundred dollars. This cousin has always been very special to me, but on account of family quarrels my mother forbid me to talk with him for several years of my childhood. I prayed and hoped that I would never have a falling out with any of my own siblings like my parents had with some of theirs. But at the beginning of seminary, I did have a painful falling out with one sibling that lasted almost 4 years. As I opened my cousin’s gift, I cried because the one who had been treated poorly by my parents provided for me more on that particular day than my own siblings (which is not to say that my siblings have not provided in numerous ways at other times). Because of this generous gift, we were able to take classes the next semester without taking out a loan.
These stories are not to point our that seminary is always bleak or that we’ve had some hard experiences, but rather to share the joy that happens when life does get difficult.
And, to be frank, they are to remind myself that the hard knocks of life are nothing compared to the hard knocks of God’s blessings.