In the Fall of 2002, I began my seminary journey. From the moment I had stepped onto Wartburg’s campus during a seminary tour that prior October, I knew that God was calling me there. In fact, I uttered the words “God wants me here!” I left that October day knowing that I would return the next fall to begin classes.
I spent the year at home living with my dad and saving up money for seminary. Then August arrived. I packed up my car and headed for Dubuque, Iowa. After a few days of driving, I finally arrived in Dubuque and began the seminary journey.
I knew that I did not want to be an ordained pastor, but was not exactly sure what God was calling me to do and be. The first days of seminary I found myself holding back and taking in every class. I eventually also heard the call to Diaconal Ministry; “word and service” ministry.
One day, I decided to speak up and was immediately shot down by another classmate. (This person later apologized and became one of my best friends at seminary). From that day on, I was very quiet and just sat and listened through my classes.
Seminary was not an easy journey at all for me. I struggled immensely with my classes. There were days I truly questioned if I had heard God right. I took systematic theology not once, not twice, but three times. God’s grace finally arrived to me in the form of a seminary professor who realized that I was an auditory learner. After failing Systematic theology twice, he took a new approach with me. We decided to do the class as an independent study. We would record our conversations, then I would go back and listen to the lecture, and return with my new questions. It was because of this ingenious idea and God’s grace that I finally passed that class.
I could have easily given up, but I didn’t. I stuck with it. In fact, God’s grace came to me in the form of my seminary advisor as well. In my endorsement interview, the committee asked me why I struggled so much with the classes at seminary. I was honest and did my best to answer them. Then my seminary advisor piped up and said “It would have been so easy for Tara to walk out the door, shut the door, and never look back. It takes more guts to stick with it.” Oh how true those words are!
And as I look back, I see the hand of God’s grace all over my seminary experience. I see God’s grace in my classmates and friends who walked that journey with me. I see God’s grace in my seminary professor who helped me pass Systematic Theology. I see God’s grace in my seminary advisor who supported me and reminded me again and again that it takes more guts to stick with it. I see God’s grace in my seminary graduation.
My seminary journey definitely was filled with God’s grace and did not leave it where it found me. It is a daily reminder to me of the visibility of an often invisible God. Throughout seminary, God often seemed invisible, but the truth is God was there the whole time and continually blessed me with God’s grace which I am so very thankful for in my life.
“I will hold myself to a standard of grace not perfection”-Anonymous