I had just gotten through TSA and sent a text wishing my pastor a safe flight on her way to visit family. Three weeks prior I had booked my own trip to Pasadena, CA in search for answers.
Before I boarded my plane, I received a response: “Have fun in CA! Enjoy your time at Fuller 😉 Just keep listening to God and asking the question, “what does obedience look like?” If I’ve learned anything from some of the books I’ve read this month it’s that our feelings are rarely to be trusted. I love you and will support you wherever you go (or stay). Trust God, listen to God.”
Enjoy your time at Fuller 😉
That emoji is important. I didn’t tell Pastor Jenn I was visiting Fuller, I told her I was visiting California. She was about to begin her sabbatical and didn’t need to focus on my state of “maybe this, maybe that.” I’m clearly not that discreet.
For months I felt that I needed a change. I enjoyed my full-time ministry role. I enjoyed my full-time education. Unlike most things, they were not better together. My ministry areas weren’t thriving. I felt drained constantly. My life consisted of ministry (that quickly became referred to only as “work”), the gym, school, and sleep. What was supposed to be a steady growth process took complete control and began to alter my entire state of being. School took the back burner, set on low. I hesitate to say it, but I was beginning to feel constantly overwhelmed and generally sad. At some points, all I could do was turn off the lights, jack up my worship playlist, and sink into a memory foam abyss. Motivation terminated.
California would offer me a full-time, in-person experience at Fuller with potential for a part-time ministry role with a great church.
What does obedience look like?
During dinner with a pastor friend, Anthony, I explained my situation. He told me I “just want[ed] to be a person again.” He spoke wisdom into the life I was neglecting. I had pushed myself to my limits and didn’t even realize it was happening. The slow fade is a dangerous one. Obedience meant doing everything I could to find a new equilibrium before being burnt out of ministry my first year out of the gate. I chose to leave Duke. I chose to be a full-time employee. I chose to keep pushing through school. Now obedience meant putting my pursuit of God first by means of my education. The church will be here long after my time in seminary is complete.
I love you and will support you wherever you go (or stay). Trust God, listen to God.
I made the choice to leave my ministry role, despite my feelings about quitting, and go back to seminary full-time. Unfortunately, California didn’t win that race due to a variety of logistics (have you seen living costs there?!) so this fall I will return to Duke and finish my master’s degree.
I learned a ton during my short tenure at Ashley Ridge and grew so much. I got to love a lot of people. I got to experience a side of ministry many of my peers won’t. I will return to seminary having developed a deeper relationship with Jesus and will stand on the shoulders of this experience to see where God calls me next. Time has not been wasted. I will continue to listen and I will continue to grow.