It is a weekday morning, and I am at home, working from my living room. I am in my workout clothes, and I will probably run a few errands later this afternoon. The life of a freelancer.
I just finished my second year of grad school at Denver Seminary. I have a year left to go — I’ve been attending full time, but I’ve also been working, and like most of the seminary students, the program will take me three years, thanks to a thesis and comprehensive exams.
Because I decided to get a master’s and go to school full time, I had to quit my job and become a freelance writer so that I could set my own schedule and make time for everything. It’s been quite a shift that has brought both positives and negatives. It’s been great to have the freedom to work late at night or only on certain days — I’ve been able to juggle school and work in a way that wouldn’t be possible if I were a full-time employee at a company.
But at the same time, the last two years have been challenging for a few reasons. Seminary can be difficult, both mentally and emotionally. The program is demanding and requires constant attention. Not only are there languages to learn and church history dates to memorize, but you are constantly thinking through your theology and asking questions about all kinds of intricacies that theologians have been discussing for centuries. It can be strengthening — you realize just how beautiful God’s story is — but it can also be exhausting. Our professors remind us often that we may learn a lot about God, but the goal is to truly know Him personally. In the midst of homework and papers, the simple joy of Jesus can get lost in the shuffle.
I’ve also realized how much of my identity I had found in my work before now. I used to be an editor at Focus on the Family, and then I switched to writing a new curriculum for David C Cook. I’ve continued as a freelancer on the curriculum project, but I no longer go into the office every day, I no longer dress up for work, and I don’t have an important title anymore. I sometimes miss it and wish I had the normal 8-5 job like everybody else.
My thoughts and feelings are not unique — almost everyone I’ve talked to at seminary has felt the same way. It is a long and challening journey, and most of us have a few moments where we wonder if this was the right choice — if it is worth it. Was it worth quitting a job, making less money, spending less time with family, and paying the zillions of dollars this degree costs?
And honestly, for me, I think it is. For one thing, I know that I prayed about this decision before I made it. And I can look back on the past two years and see amazing things that have happened — new friendships, a depth of knowledge I didn’t have before, a trip to Israel, a wonderful church community, a new city, the ability to pick up Genesis and read it in Hebrew! I have learned to be more dependent on others, and I’ve seen where I am prideful and not as strong as I thought I was. And I have seen, in so many ways, how the Lord is faithful and good and sovereign. How His mercies are new every morning.
I have also been reminded that we have seasons and stages in our lives. This stage has positives and negatives, and it will not last forever. So, while I’m in it, I should appreciate the good and learn from whatever is challenging. God is in it, wherever we are and whatever we’re doing.
OK, that’s enough of Life Reflections with Denise. What stage of life do you find yourself in right now? What are the challenges you face? What are some of the good things you see God doing?