June 25, 2013

What Seminary is For

I completely wasted seminary.

I am the odd pastor's wife that went to seminary alongside her husband, and I suppose also the odd pastor's wife that didn't put her husband through school. Kyle and I actually weren't married until a few months before I graduated from seminary, so I experienced seminary from a wide range of perspectives: the single woman in seminary, the married woman in seminary, and the married woman who worked while her husband finished seminary. We were in school a while.

And I completely wasted it all.
I took classes, I studied and wrote papers. I worked at a church full-time in the summers and part-time during the rest of the year. I did a year's worth of counseling practicum, working with middle school kids. I got to know a handful of people, mostly the fellow seminarians that I worked with at the church. All along, however, I was just waiting. Waiting and thinking ahead to what I hoped was to come: marriage, the glamorous life of a pastor's wife, ministry, kids.

We got engaged, so I rushed through my last year of seminary. I made our wedding guest list during my New Testament class. I sat in the back of my ethics class and daydreamed. I have to admit I paid close attention in Marriage and Family counseling class, especially the part about the sexual relationship. But the rest of it is pretty much a blur.

Seminary was just a stepping stone for me, a place to mark time.

But it could have been completely different, and oh how I wish now that I had chosen differently. If I could do it again, as a student myself or as the fiance or spouse of a student, I would live in it well rather than looking ahead. I would build more relationships, especially with the professors and people with more life experience. I would actually learn and read and ask questions, not just memorize stuff. I would view seminary as a greenhouse, a place to grow spiritually and relationally and experientially. I would practice what I was learning in the greenhouse. However, I think the most important pursuit in my re-do would be the pursuit of older women who were faithful wives, moms, and pastor's wives. Basically, I'd just soak in the wisdom and truth that seminary offers.

And then when seminary was done, I'd leave, just like I did the first time, because only a few people can stay at seminary well and be the wisdom-offerers well. I have no regrets about what we did after seminary, when we went out in the world and did what we were taught to do.

I just wish I hadn't wasted my years in the greenhouse.