Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm Not Perfect.

Last Sunday, I drove up to Charlotte, North Carolina for the two-day psychological assessment that is required before I can proceed with ordination. (If you remember from here, I had to fill out 40+ pages of questionnaires and three online inventories in preparation.)

I was nervous about this assessment.  Not because I am crazy or anything, but because I know that my mind has been in a million different places the past couple of weeks - and I did not want to seem distracted.  Granted, I know the ministry is full of distractions and the clinicians are really looking at my coping techniques - but it is hard to not feel like I am under the microscope right now.  Students In Care (in my denomination that is what they call persons who are actively seeking ordination) are very vulnerable.  It is hard to feel so strongly a personal Call towards ministry and yet still need to walk carefully through a path that has been laid down for you by the institutional structure of a mainline denomination.

Before I left, I ran into a UCC pastor who is serving a church not to far from where Bruce and I live.  She told me that most likely I wouldn't be surprised by what the clinicians told me.  And she was right.  The things that the two women (yes, mom - my clinicians were both women!!) told me were things that people have told me for years.  I am a perfectionist and people pleaser.  I shy away from conflict. (I'm tempted to say the two are connected.) I'm a story teller.  I have strong interests in a wide variety of things.  And I do not think that I would have it any other way ...

... but I am seeking to find a balance.

Seminary - along with the biblical studies, Christian history, systematic theology, ethics, world religions, church leadership and worship development - has taught me how to find that balance.

I moved to Atlanta with great expectations.  This was my first stab at adulthood and I knew I was going to get it right.  My apartment would always be clean and decorated.  I would always have dinner on the table and I would never let laundry pile up.  I would be able to flawlessly balance work and school.  I would have a 4.0.  I would know how to budget and manage our money in a way that - even with my in school - our savings account would always be growing.  I would have all of my ordination papers and forms submitted long before I was supposed to.  People would be impressed with just how well I had it together.

Well, guess what?  I'm not perfect.

Not even close.

My apartment - not for lack of trying - usually has a dish or two in the sink, a coat unhung and shoes strewn around (to put it lightly).  I rarely have time to cook and have had my fair share of disasters in the kitchen.  Laundry tends to pile up until one of my dresser drawers is empty.  I do NOT have a 4.0.  My desk is always piled high with papers and books.  Sometimes I run back and forth between school and work and realize midway that I am not being productive at either place.  Certain things that I need to complete for ordination took a backseat to last summer's wedding festivities.  I am terrible about returning phone calls in a timely manner.

There are days when Bruce picks me up from school and I am so exhausted; I just lay my head back and say nothing.

I'm not perfect.

But when I think about my life ... my wonderful husband, supportive family and awesome friends, the incredible seminary and inspiring congregation I attend, a fabulous network of bloggers that I have been able to connect to over the past year, my nixy little cat and an apartment that - even when it's cluttered - is MINE (well, mine and Bruce's) ... I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Seminary has been one of the most challenging times in my life.  But I have so much to be thankful for.  SO much.  I have grown so much - as a person, as a Christian and as a leader.  I have learned how precious life is and how important it is to have perspective and to find balance.  Should I be watching Monday Night Football with my husband while my sink is full of dishes?  Probably not - but I'm currently doing it anyway.  The dishes will be there in the morning.  This moment - Bruce laughing at me screaming "c'mon man!!" as the Cardinals throw the ball away for the 19th time - won't.

Balance.  It's a beautiful thing.

Yes, I am a perfectionist.

No, I will never achieve perfection.

But for the first time in my life - I think I'm okay with that.


  1. Sarah, you and I have so much in common! Too bad we didn't realize this when we lived in the same city :) Glad things went well!

    PS- Ministry will continue to shape these balances you speak of...believe me...everyday is a balancing act!! ;)

  2. As usual, such a well-written post. Balance is such a hard thing to find, but when you do, all the areas of your life just kind of fall into place : )

    PS- I'm loving the new look of your blog!

  3. You captured the struggles and the beauty of seminary so perfectly! I know that the attempts at balancing will continue, but I believe you will find your balance well. Enjoy your last semester!


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