It’s been a year since I went a little sideways and decided that this is the perfect time in life to go back to school. And not just school, but seminary, because if I’m doing this thing I am Doing This Thing. I have finally landed on the Master of Divinity program, for various reasons. What do I need an Mdiv for? I still don’t know actually, so when people ask me why I’m taking what I’m taking I have taken to telling them that it’s a surprise. This unsettles those who are always very sure of what they are doing and why they are doing it, which gives me the giggles – though I do keep them to myself.
I wondered all year last year if I’d made the right decision. If it was the right time. If I could do it. If my family would be okay. The answer to those questions is both yes and no.
First, I had to be done with this idea that there is a right time when the stars align, the circumstances lend easily, and there are no obstacles in the way. The right time is not a thing and if we aren’t careful we will spend our lives waiting for something that isn’t coming. All we have is the time we have to do what we can. There was a long stretch of time where going back to school was not possible. It was the wrong time for a long time. Maybe that’s it. The right time implies perfection and that’s never going to happen. The wrong time is often abundantly clear. The rest of the time? May as well give things a shot.
Which leads me to the question of whether I could do it. Not just the work, but the way my life would change as a full-time student stay-at-home mom. Yikes. There are many reasons why the answer is yes and no. Yes I can do the work. I can handle the ridiculous commute through endless construction. I can make time to study and write papers. But no. No I can’t bear the tug-of-war between doing the best thing for us long-term which is so demanding right now. I can’t do every single thing in my life well when there is this much to be done. So. I don’t. I do what I can and I make peace with what I can’t, which I think is what everyone else is doing in life anyway.
There are times where I have to make war though. This is where the question of my family comes in to play. At the end of last year I knew that I had just steamrolled my way through school and I also knew that it had been unfair and too difficult for my children. One of them (who shall remain anonymous) told me, “it felt like I didn’t have a mother this year.” I replied, “well you’re not wrong. I was too busy this year.” I was too busy. They were used to me being home full time; there no matter what. It was too big a change in too short a time. We all felt it. Would my family be okay? No, not if I kept up the pace I was keeping last year. Yes if I slow down and adjust my course load to be more realistic. I made war on my schedule and prioritized better, so that we could all have peace.
I told my kids in August, “when mom goes back to school this year, it’s going to be different.” It’s still not the right time. I still wonder if I can do this. I am still making adjustments so that this education is a blessing not a burden on my family. Embracing the tension in everything I don’t know and can’t do and that isn’t perfect, is where faith comes in. Faith that God has called me and that He knows, He can, and He is sufficient for all of my imperfection. One day I am confident that my children will look back on this time and see God’s work in all of it. I hope it gives them the courage and faith to pursue what He has for them also.
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