Aug 13 2012

Who am I to do this work?

“I’ve been hiding with this whole Battlestar Galactica thing,” I told my husband in an emotional heart to heart recently. It was the most shameful confession I’ve made in a long time. Not that there is anything wrong with the science fiction drama that’s been infiltrating the lives of countless hipsters of late. It wasn’t Battlestar Galatica’s fault. No, I can’t blame this one on Starbuck and Adama.

When I found out I was accepted to divinity school and made the decision to attend Candler, I was thrilled. That excitement carried me right through my wedding in May, the honeymoon, the squeaky newness of our marriage, and the lofty dreams of the next three years together. Life just kept getting better. Hooray! When the summer began, I had plans to read devotionally, work on my prayer life, and make my way through James Kugel’s How to Read the Bible all before setting foot on Emory’s immaculate campus. Instead, this summer I’ve allowed my free time to be taken over by Cylon invasions and intergalactic love triangles. How did that happen?

One of the best things about being married is having someone you love and trust tell you when you’re full of sh*t. I’ve been blessed to recently discover this overlooked benefit. My husband told me in the midst of a disagreement, in which I was being completely irrational, “I have disappointments too, Anna. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m disappointed in how little time you’ve spent preparing for Candler in your reading life.” It was like staring at myself in the mirror, and then realizing that I actually look like crap. And that’s when I confessed to the abuse of Battlestar Galactica – my inconspicuous drug of choice.

Now some of you reading may think I am blowing this all out of proportion. There is nothing wrong with Battlestar Galactica! Nothing wrong with spending your summer indulging in vices soon to be off limits when studies begin! And you would be right. But for me, choosing evenings with Battlestar Galactica over evenings with Kugel, with the Bible, and with God, meant that I was avoiding facing my own anxiety and fears about starting divinity school.

In one of the Candler information sessions I attended, Mary Lou Boice, Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, said something particularly profound. She said something along the lines of, “It takes a lot of guts to say you want to be a pastor, to overcome the question of, ‘Who am I to do this work?’” And she couldn’t be more right. When the wedding faded into the past, and I had only divinity school to look forward to – I began to fear what this new life would be. Who am I to do this work? I just recently became a Christian. I’ve had people read my blog and compare me to Dante’s Lucifer. I don’t know any of the party lines and denominational platforms. Who am I? I’m going to Candler and I don’t know anything about John Wesley! I was raised Unitarian in a humanist household. I barely know how to pray. My Christology is in flux. Who am I but just another lost sheep? Who am I to guide anyone to the Shepherd?

I’m just another child of God. That’s who I am, and it’s the hardest truth to reconcile. Maybe it’s the sheep who have once been lost who are best able to lead. Or maybe not. The truth is that going to divinity school is the biggest leap of faith I have taken. It’s the beginning of a not-my-will-but-thine life. Because I don’t know how God will use me to minister. I don’t know how God will work through me. But I have made a decision to give my life to be used for that purpose. And all I can do is try my best to be ready. All I can do is have the audacity to trust.

Now, pass me that remote. I’ve just got 3 more episodes to go before I finish Battlestar and begin the rest of my life.

Anna Flowers is an entering MDiv student. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of Chicago and currently lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband and cat.