Pity Party

I handed in anther paper today.  I was editing it until 5 minutes before class started and had to run to get to class in time.  I have no sense of how I will do on this paper.  I was certainly not happy with it–I think it was a rather rambling affair.  The difficulty is being able to discern between handing in a Inferior Paper On Time or handing in a Better Paper Late and get docked marks for lateness.  I usually go with the Inferior Paper On Time, mostly because I know that if the ideas are not clear in my mind by the time the paper is due, another 24 hours is not going to make much difference–certainly not enough difference to make up the marks lost for lateness.

I thought I would feel a sense of relief when I was finished this paper, but today is turning into a discouraging day.  I’m already a little behind in some reading and Hebrew vocabulary, and I am now faced with 700 pages of reading and an 8-page reflective paper, all due by Monday morning.  (I guess it’s only Wednesday, so that’s good).  Monday I start 3 days of all-day classes, each day concluded with evenings spent trying desperately to fulfill all my course requirements for my Briercrest distance learning course (due Thanksgiving Monday), followed by a trip to Prince Albert for Thanksgiving weekend. All in the next week-and-a-half.

I’m somehow going to have to learn to balance all of these things–papers and assignments and reading and throughout all of this, keeping up with Hebrew vocabulary and all the rules and regulations relating to Hebrew grammar.  It’s frustrating, though, because…well…here are some messages I have been hearing in school and some of my responsibilities:

1. You must watch your health–particularly: get enough rest. (Also, if you think you have symptoms of H1N1, stay home.  You will have a miserable week recovering, but it’ll be over then.  That is, except for the time spent about recovering from all those classes you missed that week.)

2.  We’ve been taught that theology begins with prayer.  I love this idea. It’s fantastic. It’s beautiful.

3.  We’ve also been told that we will probably need to read the texts for a couple of classes a couple of times each in order to fully understand them.  Fair enough–much is lost in the first reading.  (Although odd, because someone else said a prof said to them, “Don’t you know that you have to skim the books?”)

4.  Papers.

5. Hebrew.

6.  I have family and friendship responsibilities (thankfully our only responsibilities to church at this point are simply showing up!).

Now, in light of #1, my response to #s 2-5 is: WHEN?!

Thankfully, I’ve been told by a number of people in the know that marks aren’t everything. Fair enough.  But for a variety of reasons, I want to get good marks. I’m tired of mediocrity, which has been one of the hallmarks of my life. I’m not in seminary just to get a degree–a piece of paper to wave around at the world.  I am here to learn, and to learn to think and read deeply.  But at the rate time appears to move, and the speeds at which assignment deadlines are approaching, I’m beginning to wonder how anybody comes out of seminary or any institution of higher education successfully while also retaining much more than an intellectual hill of beans.

I can always fall back on the “it will be a transforming experience” mindset.

It’s additionally frustrating because I’d like to make some new friends as well, maybe sit down after class with someone and have a fruitful debate about what was just discussed.  But I’ve been feeling that I simply don’t have time for that, which is a shame. I’m hoping that will change somewhat if I live to see October 13.


It’ll all turn out in the end. I just need to find some people who empathize–or better yet, someone locally who shares my plight, so that we can sit around and encourage each other by moaning about how it all seems impossible.

Serenity now.

5 thoughts on “Pity Party

  1. mam V.

    Hang in there boy, I think it is rediculous to give you so much to read and papers to do in such a short time, how on earth can you get a grasp on what you have read if it is all crammed in in such a short time, life goes to fast as it is. Don’t worry, do one thing at a time and ask the Lord for wisdom how to handle it all, love you and pray for you. Don’t forget you do need some fun at times to release the stress.

  2. Gavin

    I’ve always been more of the type to hand in a late paper that I was satisfied with and take the late penalty…. I have a hard time settling with doing less than my best, regardless of the grade it receives. Different strokes….

    Ed Neufeld always reiterated to the class when I was taking Hebrew: “Remember, these are not God’s tests. He judges by a different stick.”

    Those are good words. Take them, swallow them; ask, seek, and knock for all you need; go kiss your wife and hug your children; then get your ass in gear on your homework.

  3. Toni

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t go for the ‘all out’ option?

    “I’m not in seminary just to get a degree–a piece of paper to wave around at the world. I am here to learn, and to learn to think and read deeply.”

    But like you said, if all you come out with is an intellectual hill of beans then you’d have been better off staying in the real estate office. Knowing the Hebrew for shovel will not be useful when someone’s children have been killed or their wife has left them for another church member, or when you really need to know God’s direction for the people you’re leading. Perspective may not get the homework done, but it can be helpful sometimes if you didn’t get the marks you might have liked (speaking to myself here too).

  4. Linea

    Gavin and Toni have some wise words for you.

    I know the kind of pressure you put on yourself though so being caught in this self made trap of needing a good mark to demonstrate what you have learned is a problem for me too. And one I am struggling with too. For just one class.

    We are crazy, have to admit it. But to then try to hear what God is really desiring from us and give that a higher priority, strains me and tests me for what I really value.

    Perhaps learning these lessons will be what seminary is all about.

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