Sunday, January 23, 2011

An Essay

This was one of the essays I had to write for my application. I noticed as I reread it that there are at least a handful of typos in there. Glad I didn't see those before I had my acceptance, I would have been a wreck. I am leaving the typos intact as proof of my ever imperfect grammar.

The Question
In an essay, tell us what leads you to apply for admission to the Master of Divinity degree program. Please reflect on your life journey including areas such as family, education, vocation, call to ministry, etc.

The Answer
Beyond my baptism and the telling of the Christmas and Easter narratives, my only exposure to Christianity was at weddings. I was fascinated by the idea of church. I began really searching in Middle School. I went to a prayer group and said a special prayer to get “saved”, every week. In High School, I found a Bible study; this was not satisfying for me. I struggled believing there was a God, but I kept looking. Eventually I found a church. I joined through confirmation and began getting involved. This became a satisfying religious experience. I should mention that when I was young my father became terminally ill. My search for God coincided with my learning the brain damage he had was irreversible.

During High School my focus was working in television production. I went on to study at a four year university with hopes of a BA in Broadcasting. My second semester my father passed away. Though his death had been anticipated, it sent my world spinning. I dropped out in favor of a one year accelerated program. I ran away from New Jersey, my family and God. I focused on my education. My hard work paid off, I graduated at the top of my class and was soon hired by WFTV in Orlando. After a year in live news production I was unsatisfied and made the move back to New Jersey to pursue opportunities in New York City. After job hunting with no results life started to change.

My curiosity about faith came back. I learn through asking questions and I had a lot of questions. My biggest concern was that I couldn’t accept some of the Christian ideas as I saw them. I was blessed to find a mentor in, a Pastor who was just called to ministry at FRPC. He allowed me to ask my difficult questions in a safe place. “How could God hate homosexual people? Are they not his children too?” “How could hate be a part of this faith if it is based on the story of Jesus love?” I began to relearn what it meant to be a Christian. I also learned to accept for some questions there simply isn’t an answer. During this time I started Spiritual Direction. I started to understand God’s call, which I had heard some time before but never understood it as such.

Well of course that brought more questions. How could God possibly want to use me? I am a mess, I am far from perfect, and I screw up! I describe it like this, I was like a little kid who sticks their fingers in their ears and screams, “La la la, I can’t hear you!” As it turns out God is very persistent. God put people in my life at specific times to help get the message across because the prompting of God alone didn’t convince me. I couldn’t refuse to listen any more. I had to trust God. During this time I was volunteering at the local church in many capacities, one was as a youth leader. I had the chance to go to the National Youth Workers Convention. There I was introduced to this scripture from The Message, “I cannot tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide open spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively.” I had begun to accept that I was called by God. I had a clear path carved out. I had begun working on my undergraduate degree again at a local community college with plans of transferring to a four year school to study Religion. Then I would seek ordination and enter seminary with hopes of a future in youth ministry. I started praying Lord make me wide open to your call. Help me to understand and trust your will. God sure did open me up; of course it wasn’t how I expected. My step father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. A lot went through my head and heart, in the end I didn’t run, I choose God. God did work in me during that time. I had to face everything I ran away from.

Since I was on this new trusting God plan, I didn’t stray. I finished my Bachelor’s Degree, became an inquirer and began studying at Princeton Seminary. I took on a new job and some activities in addition to my class work. I didn’t do so well and ended the semester with a tear filled decision to take a leave of absence. At that time I also removed myself as an inquirer. I came home, lost as ever. God was there in the midst of great disappointment.

I have had many opportunities that wouldn’t have been possibilities in my focused plan. I traveled to Africa, where my heart was forever changed. I have a beautiful daughter. I have found that I am passionate about empowering girls and young women. I have grown in my ability to hear and discern God’s call.

I have chosen the Master of Divinity program because it opens up many options in my ministry. Future PhD work could lead to teaching. A call to ordination could lead to pastoral ministry. I could see myself working with youth or young women to empower them. I could see my family in the mission field in Uganda. I could see a future in interfaith relations. I have not discounted any options. I do not know what my future ministry will look like. I pray that I will be equipped to serve and remain open to God’s call. Ultimately my hope is to change the world for the better one person at a time. It is my belief that God’s call to further education will help me to achieve that.

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