A Prayer for Midterms
“You could not pay me to go back to middle school.” I’ve said that since I started my freshman year of high school. Middle school was incredibly rough; we moved, I started my period, my mom started menopause, my first grandparent died, my brother started boarding school, and my parents separated and divorced. On top of all that, it’s middle school. Everyone is trying to “find” themselves, figure out who they are, separate from their familial identities, and gain some independence. Maybe rough is an understatement.
You could not pay me to go back. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve said that.
But here I am at seminary. Many of us have come here from trauma. Some of us are running from something. Some of us have been silenced by faith communities. Some of us have given up livelihoods to be here. Some have had to leave family behind both literally and figuratively.
On top of all that, we’re trying to “find” ourselves, figure out who we are as faith leaders, perhaps separate from the faith of our family or our childhood, and grow into who God is calling us to be.
This can be a liberating experience, deepening the traditions of our faiths. This can also be incredibly painful. In Margaret Atwood’s newest novel, The Testaments, she describes what it feels like to have your faith challenged:
You feel as if your best friend is dying; that everything that defined you is being burned away; that you’ll be left all alone. You feel exiled, as if you are lost in a dark wood. It was like the feeling I’d had when [my mother] died: the world was emptying itself of meaning. Everything was hollow. Everything was withering.
As we move into this season of midterms, I pray for all those feeling challenged through growing branches or deepening roots. I pray for all those feeling ostracized and alone. I pray for all those lashing out, desperately trying to be seen. Know that you are loved. Know that you are called. And know that God is with you.