As I walked toward campus yesterday with two bags, a purse and a tea in tow, I pondered “finals” week. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why wait so long on some of those papers that Thanksgiving break, or week 8 could have handled? Why the late nights, lack of sleep, crabbiness, giddyness, and all those other things I dare not mention.
I’m not sure if its just Fuller students responses in direct correlation to the hell that is the quarter system with intensives to make summer “fly by,” but I’ll be honest here: I am burned out, overworked, underpaid, stressed and quite frankly – sick of never stopping. It was a reality as I walked onto campus that I am still not close to be done with seminary, regardless of completing over 120 credits now. 120. Do you know how many classes that is? I’ll tell you, with a few 2 credit classes and one zero, I’m at 31 different classes at Fuller. With 4 next quarter, 3 the following and still about 4 more before I’m ever done after that.
During a committee meeting earlier this week, I was asked as the student rep, “what is the number one stress of students?” I sat there for a moment and looked down at a sheet of paper filled with numbers regarding costs, etc. for an MDiv. My eyes welled up with tears and I had to tuck them back in – I was, of course, in a room with some major faculty members who, under no shadow of a doubt, would not want to see me cry.
“Money. Finances. However you want to define this. I made a choice two and a half years ago to come to a school that would clearly cost me more money to learn from people in specific disciplines that I knew I would not receive elsewhere. I get money to go here, I work 2 jobs, I don’t get enough sleep, I am embarrassed occasionally when I turn in my papers. Finals week is a black hole of sleepless nights while still trying to be a good employee, all the while trying to honor the call God placed on me. And what happens by Friday? My guilt complex takes over because I just couldn’t do it all as well as I know I could have.”
Maybe I have it all wrong. But here’s my feeling – there’s got to be a better way to prepare future pastors and theologians for the church. And if I’m a part of an institution that purportedly is leading the way, we need to start asking some of these questions with more frequency, humility and grace than we have in the past.