The first time I came to the faculty wing must have been more than ten years ago. Back then, I was an undergraduate student laboring through a theology degree with no idea what he wanted to do with his life.
Back then, the faculty were giants. Masters of their disciplines. Heroes of their faith. Men and women who challenged me in how I thought and how I believed. Even when I had solid occasion to visit them, I approached their floor, their wing, their door with a kind of reverence bordering on trepidation. Will they like me? Gosh, I hope I don’t embarrass myself before this truly extraordinary person!
And of course, I felt supremely cool for being in their presence and having them know my name.
I learned to pray in this wing.
I had my first experience teaching in higher education during those years, and met in this wing for supervision.
Today I moved into my very own office in this very same wing. My heroes are now my colleagues. The glory! The surrealism! The awkwardness! The WOW! My office is the last one at the end of the hall. This corner is quiet, and I have a window that opens into a cherry tree. My first ever office window that opens.
I am privileged.
This office and the job that goes with it represent many marvelous changes over the past few years. Five years ago, I did not know if I would stay with the Faith of my childhood. I did not know if I would stay in the church. I did not know if I would stay with my family. I did not know if I would stay in the counseling field. I did not even know if I would stay in this same city.
The last five years have been a crucible, but many of these questions have been resolved. I grow ever more comfortable with this city. I find more and more of a professional rhythm as a counselor and as a teacher. My wife and I work toward greater safety and trust every day.
Most striking to me has been my experience of faith. Of Christ. This has been the most significant puzzle for me. A relationship with Christ that is supposed to inform every aspect of life and, on some level, be a cool thing. For a long time I regarded Him primarily with fear and resentment. Unwilling or unable to fully comfortably submit to Him, but neither able to outright reject him, caught in the limbo of the cynical, resentful, educated, theologically trained and traumatized ambivalence toward both the Central Figure of my faith and His ordained institution. There was a time when reading the Scripture brought up nausea, praying aloud with anyone else brought up panic, and praying on my own felt like a complete waste of time.
Today, a good friend came to meet me for my first day in my new office. We sat in chairs and prayed together. We prayed over the space, over me in my work and him in his. Words came easily and comfortably and I felt right to say them. Praying aloud with a friend felt right and natural like it hasn’t for over a decade.
I am amazed to be here.
A good portion of the Christ Year will play out in this wing. On this desk. Looking out at this cherry tree.
I already see stressors and drama coming. But I have allies. I have gifts from above. Most of all, I still believe God is sufficient for all things.