By Sarah Laurence
Preparing for seminary was one of the scariest times in my life. I was terrified to be moving and starting this new chapter, but I was also so very excited. I knew that a strong calling had been placed on my life and while I wasn’t sure what the end result was, I knew the beginning was the journey of seminary.
I always grew up loving school. I was the kid who was ready to go back to school shopping by the second week of summer and seminary prep proved to be no different. I enjoyed meeting with people and discussing classes and I loved researching my books! Don’t even get me started on school supplies! But this was fun for me from the beginning, even from the time I was trying to decide on a seminary I loved it.
It was terribly stressful, but I loved it. I loved the visits and I loved the research. I loved the conversations and I loved the networking. What I notice immediately and what you should notice immediately is how much I loved everything about preparing for this journey.
I am more liberal, and because of this I chose a program that was a little more conservative than I was. Naturally, I believed this was the way I would better grow and better be stretched. This slowly began to feel like a mistake.
Throughout my first semester I sat in my classes silent and insecure, afraid to speak, fearing that I couldn’t match up to those around me. I would listen to the knowledge they would share and their opinions and immediately feel as if I had nothing to offer. I spent much of my time in a constant state of questioning why was I even called because I do not belong here, I do not belong with these people, I am not enough.
It took me a full semester to realize that while my knowledge may not be the same, that doesn’t mean I don’t have something to offer. Just because I don’t have the experience my classmates do; doesn’t mean I don’t belong. This was a very difficult time to work through and I thought the worst was over. Then I began second semester.
By the time I began second semester, I had a Christian history class and a theology class behind me, and I was a little more knowledgeable than when I started. I was ready to take on whatever was thrown at me. I was ready to show that I was called, and I was meant to be sitting in my classroom with everyone else. However, I ran into a new obstacle.
A new semester meant new voices. New voices that I had not yet encountered here. These were the more conservative voices that went so strongly against everything I felt and there were so many of them. So many, that I fell silent. I lost my voice again. Not because I felt like I wasn’t enough, not because I was ashamed of my beliefs but because I was outnumbered, and I was afraid. It has been difficult to find like-minded individuals and I have found a few, but “few” is the key word.
I have let so many things impact my experience so far. I have let so many outside factors influence my opinions of seminary so far that I have forgotten the real reason I’m here. I have lost myself. I have forgotten how to use my voice, and in doing so I’m not living out my calling.
I have been working to remind myself that I am not here for those in my classes or for my professors. I am in the process of finding myself again. I am here for God and what God has in store for my future. If I know anything it’s that I am not supposed to be silent. God has more for me than that.
Sarah Laurence serves as the Academic Intern in Ministry at First Baptist Greenville, S.C. She is a CBF Leadership Scholar pursuing an M.Div. from Gardner-Webb School of Divinity in Boiling Springs, N.C.