In a not too distant post
, I wrote a little bit about my anxiety surrounding the next step in my candidacy process. There were several things that caused me anxiety about this step. First, it's called 'approval.' Now, that might not seem too bad, but for someone who has lived their whole life with this need for approval (not really from my parents, they were amazingly supportive and approving. It was more in the other realms of my life, especially in relationships with my peers and teachers) the thought of being "denied approval" can cause a bit of anxiety. That fed into the anxiety that led to such thoughts as, "This is my fifth year of seminary. Five years is quite a commitment for any endeavor. What am I going to do if, after all of this time and money has been spent pursuing this, I am not approved?"
Truthfully, these two things didn't cause a whole lot of anxiety on their own. Especially the first thing. I've made great strides in my need for approval, and realize that not everyone will always approve of who I am or what I do. That is not a judgment on who I am as a person. So, if I don't get approved to continue on in this process towards ordination, it doesn't mean that I'm not a good person. It just means that the gifts I possess are probably best directed somewhere else. As far as the second fear, I knew that barring any horrible and tragic mishap during my approval interview, it would not be an issue. If there had been any concerns from the faculty, I would have been alerted of them before I got to this point.
Now, notice I said "barring any horrible and tragic mishap." That could mean a lot of things, but for me it meant mainly having one of the faculty interviewers ask me a question which I could not understand or for which I could not come up with an adequate response. Then, I would be left sitting there, under the judging glares of these two faculty members, desperately seeking their approval and knowing that, at that moment, I wasn't receiving it, and fearing for my future in the Church.
The way the interviews are set up is that each senior student who is seeking approval is assigned two faculty interviewers. The first one is their academic advisor and the second is whichever faculty member their advisor is teamed up with. Entering into this process, there was already something that was causing me a bit of anxiety. The professor who had been my advisor for my first three years of seminary decided to go on sabbatical during my senior year. So this woman who knows me very well, has struggled through some issues with me, and who I get along with very well decided to take a sabbatical that, unfortunately, coincides with the biggest step in my candidacy process.
So I had switched to another professor who I felt knows me pretty well, and with whom I was comfortable. But now it was a matter of waiting and seeing who he would be paired with. I thought that I could handle most of the professors, but there was one in particular that made me nervous and I was pretty sure that I did not want. I did not have much experience with him and he is well known for asking very tough to answer and extremely difficult to understand questions. So, if you remember the "tragic mishap" scenarios I was playing out in my head, you would understand why I did not want that man to be my second faculty interviewer.
And, of course, in a moment of Divine comedy, this man was indeed assigned to be my second faculty interviewer. I posted part of my reaction here
As the time between finding out this man would be my interviewer and the interview itself grew smaller, I grew less and less nervous. Through conversations with people, and being reminded that I would be aware of any issues that might get in the way of my approval, and my being reminded (by myself and Someone Else) that I am indeed authentically called to ordained ministry, my anxiety level was tempered greatly.
Until the morning of my approval interview.
A lot was going on that morning. I had to get up at 4:30 to meet friends at 5:00 to drive them to the airport, so that they might go to Cancun. I then had to hang out with their 9 month old son, who I simply adore and absolutely love, for a while until the daycare opened up at 6:30 so that I could drop him off there. We watched The Wiggles together. Then I had to shower and get ready and go over the essay that I had written so that I was ready to answer any questions about it. I was over in the classroom building by about 10 after 8, nervously walking around and running through possible questions in my head, trying to come up with the perfect answers.
So, anyway, the interview went very well. I was not asked questions that I was unable to answer, and I understood everything that was said to and asked of me. I think I had some kick-butt answers (a couple of which, in conversation with a couple other people, I found out were very close to things that the intimidating professor had said himself). So I am almost positive that I successfully completed the interview and will be approved by my faculty for ordained ministry. Now it's just a matter of going through the interview with the candidacy committee from my home synod.
And it's also a matter of waiting to read the language that will come out of my faculty interview. There are several forms which the bishops receive before the first call process for seminary graduates begins. In these forms are paragraphs written by different people concerning the candidate. We call these paragraphs the "language," and they are written by the faculty, by our internship supervisor and by ourselves. Much of what is written in the paragraph by the faculty comes out of our approval interviews. They let us read these paragraphs, and we have the opportunity to contest any of the language we don't approve of, before they are sent out to the bishops. While they give the bishops some idea of who you are and what you're about, they really let you know what kind of opinion the faculty has of you. I think that is what matters to me most, knowing how the faculty sees me and what they think of me. It's that whole need for approval from teachers thing. Of course, we don't get to see them until the end of this month. So I won't know one way or the other if I am approved, and I will not get to see what opinion the faculty has of me until the end of this month. Although, realistically, it is not that long to wait, it definitely feels like it is years away.
Anyway, I've spent much more time on this post than I had originally intended. I have much reading to do and a sermon to begin to prepare for chapel on Thursday. So, I had best be off and about attempting to something a bit more productive.