Friday, September 10, 2010
For all my more sanctified friends, the conclusion of this post will come as a no-brainer. For the fools like myself, the conclusion is just dawning on me.
As I was drying my hair this morning in deep hopes that I would have a great hair day, I suddenly became a bit nervous about all that I have to accomplish this semester. In addition to my classes, one at HDS twice a week, one Latin course, and two others with heavy reading loads, I have countless responsibilities (TA for GC's philosophy department, Byington Scholar - this actually includes work - go figure!, being a nanny, two conferences, two book reviews, etc.). But in addition to all of that, I am applying for a doctorate. This includes a lot of time and effort and, well, pain. GRE preparations, research proposals, applications, statement of purpose, etc. Then, I have to visit the schools, attend information forums at HDS, actually take the GRE, and research so I can actually write a coherent proposal. Did I mention that my topic has almost nothing written on it? Did I mention the text I am focusing upon is half Latin and unavailable in English? And let's not even mention the school selection process. I never knew that wanting to study Barth and systematic theology would be so difficult to do in the US. And for crying out loud, I don't even care if I study and work in a non-evangelical institution. At this point, I just want a solid Barth scholar who will be my advisor. I think I gave up on the whole "I want my advisor to have a prayer life and believe in the living and eternal Word of God" a long time ago. Sadly.
What makes it even more daunting is the fact that I will continue with two classes over J-Term, five in the Spring (including everything above sans doctoral applications but adding my comprehensive MAR project), and German all throughout next summer only to begin a doctoral program in the fall. This means five to seven more years of doctoral studies straight through until I finish with a published dissertation (Lord-willing), have to find a job, begin to teach, and keep publishing. The toil, loneliness, rejection, exhaustion, and frustration seems like too much to fathom at this point.
But then it dawned on me. I have a pretty blessed life. I am a Christian female trying to prepare to get a doctorate so I can study systematic theology in hopes of someday teaching. Moreover, I live a relatively pain-free existence. But it occurred to me that this future before me seems so burdensome because I'm doing it for myself. The instant I began to think of doctoral work as serving Jesus Christ, it became a joy. My pursuit of a doctorate is not and should not be for my own ambitions. The reason I began this journey was because of a simple systematic theology I class that I took my first semester of graduate school. Since then, I have become fixed, enthralled, and captured by the object of faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel. I know that I won't be able to keep sight of this truth when I'm getting four hours of sleep some nights and haven't talked to my friends in weeks because I've been engaging in what seems to be futile research. But I pray that the Spirit of God will continue to sustain me as I pursue His Word throughout my entire theological development.