It’s funny now. When I first booked 3 planes flights within 4 weeks of each other, I thought I was being clever and proactive. To be fair, I am unbelievably grateful to have had the opportunity to go visit my top 3 seminaries. And to be even more fair, I can name that I was crazy for putting them all so close together and in the middle of the semester and right around oratorio week. Nonetheless, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I was going to visit these schools so I can get a handle on who they are, how they do ministry, and to what extent I fit in with them. Jokes on me. Not saying that I didn’t learn that information in the process, but saying that I learned so much more than that.
Through all of the travel difficulties of arriving to each of these locations across the country (everything from wing dents and overweight planes to dead shuttles and rental cars at alternate airports), God was teaching me patience. I am early in the process of looking at grad schools, and I knew that going in. But in order to successfully look at these schools so early (in conjunction with my overactive planning mind), God knew some additional work would be required.Transportation was only the beginning.
Of the journey to 3 schools in 3 separate parts of the country, I successfully and entirely changed the order in which I saw my fit for seminary. Each school moved up or down in accordance with a multitude of factors, including but not limited to: student interactions, faculty and staff conversations, professor engagement, community connectivity, academic rigor, geographical location, and (furthest from my personality) genuine feeling of fit. I learned to ask questions. I learned to observe. I learned to respectfully speculate. I learned what calling really means.
But out of all that I experienced, I learned the most about myself. I figured out how to accurately describe my call. I experienced the emphasis of doing life in community, especially in the schooling that shapes your future career. I found a place that I thought I would love, when really I did not fit in with the program at all. And I found a place that rose from the dead bottom of my list to the very top. I had formative conversations with my parents about my perspective on the visits and how I see myself in grad school and future. Most effectively, I learned more about myself than I even learned about the programs I was there to see.
I think these trips were God’s funny way of forcing me to slow down (ironically by making me speed up and make my schedule even busier). But without the opportunity to “try these schools on,” I would have gone into my applications with an incredibly skewed vision. Without the chance to visit Texas, California, and New Jersey, I would have missed out on experiencing a part of me that I never knew was there. So I hear you, God. Jokes on me. From here on out, it’s His plan and I am just along for the ride.