Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Seminary and Money

I hate that those two words even have to go together. But it's a very real issue I face every single day.

When I first left my full-time job and moved to St. Louis, the first thing that scared me to death was the lose of a paycheck. It's hard when your bank account first empties all the way, and you still have groceries to buy for the month, or gas to put in your car (the very car that you have to own in order to get to work (Don't get me wrong, St. Louis actually has a great public transportation - I love the Metro. But the closest station is actually just up the street from where I work, which is 11 miles away from where I live. Not having a car just wasn't an option for me.)

And it's not as if I made that much money before, anyway. Graphic Design sounds really cool, but it pay very little. But it was a regular pay check I could count on. I went from working 50 hours a week @ one full-time and one part-time job to working 10-15 hours a week as an intern to fulfill my field education requirement. Yikes.

God has been good to me. I've never doubted that. But I will leave this place will a big loan to pay off. And as a female in a male-dominated vocation (paid ministry) scholarships just don't come around that often. I applied at lots of places, and while only a couple worked out, the rest just put me on a bunch of mailing lists. I am really hoping that this seminary scholarship works out for me next semester. Money is just one aspect of what's been hard about seminary... but as you know, if you read any of my posts here, there are many more hard things I've gone through.

I am a perfectionist. And I'm really, really hard on myself. I live in a house with 5 girls, all very different and very much the same as me. I am working at a 2000+ church where the women I serve have very different lives than me. All I can think sometimes is, what can I possible offer them?

I came from a life where I was expected to performed on a regular basis, and perform flawlessly. The color on the cover of the catalog must be the right shade of grey, the photo of that kitchen must be altered to work just right for the application, the worship set must be so tight that everyone is engaged completely. And all the while I must do it with a freakin' big smile on my face like nothing is wrong.

I was so busy performing, and rarely receiving grace from anyone that I never gave grace to anyone. My heart was so wrapped up in getting it right that when others didn't I had no patience. "If I can do it, why can't they?"

I HATE what I turned into.

And now, in this season of seminary life, God had turn that upside-down for me. Because to live your life in grace is to live a life free from expectations. And that is what so often traps and imprisons us from not only enjoying life and being happy, but to being the person God created you to be in the first place. I was created to be a child of God, no longer enslaved to sin but set free in Christ, who loves me no matter now many times I don't perform.

It's taken me a long time to be okay with this, a long time to admit that seminary has done this for me. But it has.

And while the serving God in the church and this loving and serving his people thing that I pray comes out of these two years is good, I think that my lessons learned are also good. And worth every penny. (though i wish it cost much fewer pennies...)

4 comments:

Kyle Reed said...

Maybe I just do not pay attention very well, but I had no clue that you were in St. Louis going to seminary here...that is awesome.
What seminary are you going to and for what?

Glad that you are letting God teach you in these times of learning and vulnerability.

stephanie said...

hey... good to see you stop by. I'm at Covenant Theological Seminary, pursuing a Master's in Educational Ministry. you're in St. Louis, too, right?

God is definitely doing some teaching... it's not been easy, but it's been worth it.

Kyle Reed said...

Yes, I live about 20 minutes from Cov.
I was actually thinking about going there myself this year, but had no money to go.
That is awesome to hear though.
What church are you working with?

stephanie said...

seminary is definitely not cheap, which is frustrating. it really takes a leap of faith to go.

i work at central presbyterian church in clayton. you?