Sunday, December 2, 2012

Confessions of a Disillusioned Paper Writer

This week, I'm writing final papers for classes. Given the fact that I have a blog, one could say I like to write. But every year when writing includes footnotes, not addressing the reader, using big words, and sounding intelligent all while being organized, I can slip into a scary place somewhere between depression and craziness. I like to write, but I don't like to not feel proud of my writing. And sometimes, I set myself up for not feeling proud by telling myself, "I'm going to figure out what 2,000 years of church history hasn't yet!" Or, "I'm going to make the most amazing point ever, my teacher will want to publish my paper!" Sometimes, I set myself up for not feeling proud just by telling myself, "I'll be able to figure out how to work the margins on Microsoft Word," Or, "I should be able to enter all my sources in no time!" (Ha!) 

This week, I've been praying that my papers can be an act of worship. That I can practice approaching God's Word humbly and learn from it as I write about it. That I can encounter Him more deeply and fully through the exercise of study, and that I will grow to look more like Him in the process. But today I realized I need to pray for something more: that I can experience all those things even if I don't end up being "impressed" with my own work. 

It's one thing to feel "worshipful" when I'm pleased with myself. It's another thing to feel worshipful when I'm still scratching my head about a passage even after just writing 20 pages on it. But I'm thankful for the gracious gift of realizing my own limitation, because it ensures that I really worship Him in the process, not the sound of my own voice. It reminds me that He is the object of awe and wonder, and that I'll never be able to really wrap my head around Him. It reminds me that I'm invited to enjoy Him even if He doesn't explain it all to me, and even if obedience means doing something I don't get an "A" in. 

It reminds me that I can "spend my life to know, and still be far from close" to all He is. He is great, and experiencing that greatness necessarily involves experiencing my weakness and lack of control over Him and His truth. 

If one song could sum up my seminary experience so far, this would be it. It's especially good for me to listen to during paper week! Maybe your life experiences are different from mine, but have brought you to a similar place. See if this song is helpful for you too! 

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