The Bible I hold now in my hands is not the same Bible I brought with me cross country this past fall.
The woman typing on this keyboard is not the same woman that drove across the desert gripping the wheel, pursuing a dream, knowing that she was ten feet behind, had ten feet to go, and had one shot at feeling alive.
The seminary I know now is not the same seminary I applied for with trembling hands last winter.
Seminary is not for the faint at heart, the weak of mind, and the non-self-driven. I only know this because I woke up Thanksgiving day faint at heart, weak of mind, and had driven myself into the ground, face planted, and fatigued as all get out. I didn’t want to get out of bed. Like…not at all. Like…not even a little. But dang it I had to cook food with Amy and show up with a smile on my face at a stranger’s hospitable home that night.
“You’re going to find out what God is made out of and what you’re made up of.”
My pastor Craig’s words in prayer from August haunted me, and now I knew what he meant. I felt the weight. The cost. The tension. The breaking. The ripping. I felt as if I had been in active labor pushing a child out of my body, all while simultaneously putting out a fire with one hand while driving a bumper car with the other hand, at the state fair on a cold, wintry night.
I’ve known intellectually that the journey to seminary was not only about the acquisition of knowledge for my head, but a transformation of my heart. What I didn’t know was how that would play out in real life. I knew it’d be hard. Just not this hard.
The ten weeks of the quarter pushed me to my breaking limits in every major area: marriage, parenting, school, friendships, body.
The words that the Spirit brought to mind were rediscovery and layers.
I strived in school and was pushed to look closely at the old familiar stories in Scripture and rediscovered a God with more layers than I ever had imagined.
I strived at home and rediscovered myself as an imperfect mother and an imperfect wife with a bit more brokenness under pressure than I was comfortable with.
I strived as a friend and rediscovered the crippling grief and loss and homesickness of being ripped apart from a loving community that was a lifeline.
I strived at perfectionism and rediscovered new ways to mentally self-destruct by not keeping holy sabbath, physically raised my blood pressure to dangerous levels by not letting my mind be at rest, lost weight by skipping lunch at the library (ok…I ate carrots and granola bars) just.so.i.could.keep.studying the assigned readings I would NEVER be on top of.
I strived for balance in being full-time grad student, mom, wife, friend. But I didn’t know when to stop and walk away, to my detriment.
Yet God did the miraculous in the mundane. Met me in the mess. Face to face.
I could tell you weekly story after weekly story of how God met me in that extreme striving but we would be here forever. So, like my Old Testament prof told me when I went over my word limit, “Give me your best 2400 words, Inés.”
The Bible I’ve rediscovered is a complex, tested, and true word of the very Word with more riches that I need to keep on mining, and I’m incredibly giddy and excited that I have the privilege to peel back the layers on the stories of God.
The God I’ve rediscovered is a majestic, just, compassionate, ever loving, ever graceful, ever wise, who is so immense that I am aware of my smallness and I bow down at the mere mention of His name Yahweh. I’m incredibly passionate to peel back the layers on the God behind those stories.
The husband I’ve rediscovered is a steady, passionate, sensitive, true, hard worker, ever supportive, anchor, strong father, who allows me to study sometimes 12 hours a day during finals week. I’m incredibly humbled that God would allow me to see layers of Rob that otherwise I would not have if I didn’t have to lean on him the way I’ve needed to depend on him.
The son I’ve rediscovered is a tender, brave, jovial, silly, compassionate, transparent, supportive son who sends me off to the library and happily says, “Mommy, I hope you get an A on your paper!” as I close the door behind me knowing I’ll be back after his bedtime.
The friends I’ve rediscovered in Bobby and Amy are fierce loving, in your face truth telling, grace giving, heart tending, hand holding, lips praying, so I could be pushed when needed to be pushed, and stopped when needed to be forced to rest (and eat).
I’ve fallen in love all over again with God and His Word, with Rob and Nash, with Bobby and Amy and their loving kids who are like my own niece and nephews.
And me? My story is undone.
I’m still rediscovering myself. I hold both joy and brokenness in my hands at the moment. Incredibly thankful to be here. Incredibly sure I was called to be here. Reminded often that I was made for this. I smile ear to ear quietly when my mind feels alive in the treasures I’m rediscovering in His Word.
I’ve been filling up my tank over the winter break. Resting. Sleeping. Walking. Listening. Playing with the family. I’ve looked back reflecting what was good and where I could have done better in all areas, especially self-care. I’m praying, hoping and intentionally taking steps to enter the quarter on Jan 3 with healthier unforced rhythms of grace that will sustain me like the lattice holds up the vine for another 10 weeks. I’m walking with a limp. Aware of my limitations. But I’m walking with a pep in my step aware of my hunger for joy and my thirst for Jesus. His face alone satisfies. And He is oh so beautiful.
Thank you to all our friends and family who are supporting us on this journey. We couldn’t do this without you all. It’s too hard to do alone. We love you.