Three years ago I did something I never thought I’d do again: I went back to school. To seminary, in fact, to earn my masters and fill in all of the educational blanks in my mind that were there.
12 years ago, I graduated college with two bachelors degrees, and I remember the craziness of that day. Like many graduations, that one was about change, transition, moving on. I was leaving my home for the past five years and starting out in “the real world,” so to speak. It was a nice ceremony, but like with most moments where I’m ready to move on, it felt surreal.
Today, after three years of additional schooling, I got up in front of a small crowd with 30 of my fellow classmates — spanning all manner of age, gender, race and quirkiness — and was hooded as a Masters of Arts in Christian Education. With honors, I was surprised to find out (I don’t really pay attention to my transcript). And again, it felt surreal. Not because I was moving on, this time, but because I’d more or less gotten used to being a student again.
It’s weird how that all comes back, but it does. And like I tell all of our teens going to college, it makes a world of difference when you’re studying something you actually want to learn instead of merely have to learn. As tiring as the late hours, the homework, and the time away from my family was, I did enjoy the fellowship of my classmates, the discussions that we had, and the exploration of our faith.
I don’t necessarily feel smarter than I did three years ago, although I know I’m more equipped now than I used to be. My thought was that if I was going to teach something as important as this, I wanted to make sure I got it right. But I’ve been in perpetual awe of the folks I’ve met who have an encylopedic knowledge of verses and facts, of the folks who have incredibly moving personal testimonies (in particular a guy named Joe, who escaped civil war in Africa to come over here to get his degree so that he could go back and minister to the region), and of the honesty that was shared. Ministers, like everyone else, are weird, faulty, frail, and sometimes broken people, so it’s good to hear that I’m not alone on that front.
I certainly owe a lot of thanks to the encouragement from friends and family over the past couple years. Some of them made it up this weekend, and we’re celebrating. I was a bit miffed that — yet again — they forbade us from tossing our caps in the air. Is this just a TV thing? I’ve never been at a graduation where people throw their hats in the air. I want to.
So anyway, I graduated, and life as I know it… will remain more or less the same with fewer classes. Huzzah!