Giving Thanks Amidst Chaos
I’m on the 4th floor of Duke’s biggest library in the middle of writing a paper for my New Testament course on the relation between the human world and world of spirits in ancient Jewish texts, finishing some homework for my Koine Greek course, and reading about Martin Luther and the early stages of the Protestant Reformation. Oh yeah, I also have to read the Book of Amos tonight for my Old Testament interpretation course. Or should I say this morning, as it is now officially past midnight.
I paused for a moment and thought about life and the craziness of the situation. Studying theology? At Duke? How did I get here?
It was around this time 3 years ago that I found out I was both admitted into the top master’s program for French literature and
hired by the French Embassy to be an English teacher at an elementary school in northern France. I was also in the most hectic part of research for my 70 page thesis on mid-19th century Flaubertian literature.
All of the hard work was paying off, and although everyone was wondering what the heck I would do after graduating with a degree in French and political science, I actually had two decent options: A) start my master’s and continue on the PhD route, or B) defer the master’s program, take a year off to teach English in France, and then proceed with plan A.
I went with the latter.
But I never actually ended up in France.
One phone call changed my life, when I was asked to interview for a position at Winthrop University. I had forgotten that I uploaded my resume to the AmeriCorps website, and the lovely folks at Winthrop’s Center for Career & Civic Engagement seemed to think I was a good fit for an opening they had. The initial phone call was on a Monday. A phone interview took place on Tuesday. I accepted the job on Wednesday, and moved to South Carolina 2 weeks later.
To make a ridiculously long story short, I worked for practically no money and loved (nearly) every second of it. I never really questioned why I didn’t go to France (though I’m sure everyone else did), because I just knew I had to go to South Carolina. I can’t really explain it. From there I got involved with an amazing church and campus ministry, embraced a call to ministry, interned at the campus ministry, felt affirmed in my calling, applied to four seminaries, and somehow ended up at Duke Divinity.
I don’t know how it works at other seminaries, but they say this is the most difficult semester of 3 year Master of Divinity program here at Duke. I think one of my friends described the whole semester in a nutshell by saying, “Progressing through this week’s reading and writing is like trying to carve Mount Rushmore with a hammer and chisel.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s a lot of work. A lot of reading. A lot of papers. A lot of tests. A lot of Scripture identification. A lot of moments where I have to catch my breath, check my to-do list, and remind myself that it’s all good. And a lot of moments where I thank God for bringing me here.
It’s not where I thought I’d be 3 years ago.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a follower of Jesus, it’s that life doesn’t always take us where we think we should go. I’ve noticed lately that it has taken me exactly where I need to be. Even if that means upstate South Carolina rather than Paris. Or Duke Chapel instead of Notre Dame.
But hey, life’s not fun if you know exactly where you’re going.
So today I’m thanking God for exactly where I am. Right now, it’s in the midst of a bit of chaos, but I’m finding that sorting it out and learning about it all is only half the fun. Conversations with peers and how we’re applying this to our lives and how we hope to use it all in the future is exciting, humbling, daunting, and just plain cool.
It certainly isn’t where I thought I’d be just 3 years ago, but I’m so thankful for where I am called today.