If I am recalling correctly, my arm was bandaged up and I had some gravel stuck in my side. No, this wasn’t due to some cool story or insane car wreck I survived that forced me to turn my life around. This was simply a long boarding accident. This was simply me showing off in front of a boy (who now is my husband) and failing miserably.
Anyways, I was trying to hide this bandaged arm while waiting for an appointment with my English professor. I sat down, surveyed his dimly lit study stacked with books, knick-knacks and leather. It’s what I pictured the professor’s study in The Magician’s Newphew to look like.
We had a (really) small freshman English comp class and the professor asked that we would come in during the week to discuss our essays one at a time, in person. Very Oxford of him. I was expecting to go in, get my grade, and get out. Little did I know I was about to have an identity crisis.
Him: You’re a Biblical counseling major?
Me: Well, I was told it would be useful in ministry, especially in missions.
Him: (I’m paraphrasing for your sake) You really should reconsider, you’re going to get bored in Biblical Counseling. You need to be using your brain and writing. Your last essay tells me that.
I wish I could tell you how I responded. All I remember is feeling as though my earth had been shattered. This class too made me thirsty. I looked forward to writing my weekly essays, forward to it! But what did Tolstoy have to do with lost souls? What did Nietzsche have to do with “eternity” (no pun intended)? With did reading, writing and thinking have to do with being a wife and mom?
I can’t tell you how badly I wish I had confessed these thoughts to him. I now know he held the key but I wasn’t ready for it. I hadn’t reached the bottom. All good stories (like Dante’s Inferno) let us know we must travel to the bottom before we can reach the top. I had a ways to go.
I just couldn’t reconcile the amount of time I would spend reading classic literature when I could be reading “Christian” books. I simply saw Jane Austen as a waste compared to the practicality of reading anything by Elise Fitzpatrick. In fact, one of my mentors had told me that they had sworn off reading any novels for the rest of their life in hopes of no longer wasting their life. Why would I choose to major in something that was “trivial” when I could be studying that which “better equipped” me? All this church lingo . . .
The schism was growing. The separation between heaven and earth was spreading rapidly and I had to pick a side. Did my heart belong to heavenly matters or earthly matters? What about all those lectures I listened to on the beauty in architecture? What about the sublimity that rushes over me when standing toe to toe with a Degas? What about the smell of freshly baked bread?
This may sound insane. Well, it is insane but I believe it shows just how confused I really was . I was coming towards the end of my time overseas. It was growing darker outside and I sat on a dirt floor, in a hut lit by candles. I remember thinking about rainbow sprinkles. Yes, like the kind you put on cake. I remember thinking, “what is the point of anything? What is the point of rainbow sprinkles?!!!”
What is the point of rainbow sprinkles? What is the point of sunsets and taxis? Birthday parties and cocktails? Why do or enjoy anything if it’s going to burn? If all that matters is “saving” people’s souls and the “sanctification of the saints,” then isn’t everything else a waste of time? Shouldn’t every fiber of my being be invested in church activities and personal growth? All this church lingo . . .
My professor had invoked an identity crisis that I could not solve and (dare I admit it) all my churchy answers were coming up short. But she wasn’t . . .