My husband encouraged me to take classes when we moved from Southern California to Dallas to attend seminary. “Sure. Sounds great,” I thought.
Two years later and baby #2, taking a seminary class seemed like an ideal, rather than reality. During a worship service I prayed, “God, should I audit a class?” His still small voice spoke to my heart, “Apply, don’t audit.” Apply? To seminary? Did I hear him right?
After talking with my husband and a few mentors, they all confirmed that going for my seminary degree would be a wise investment. Okay, breath. How to do motherhood and seminary life?
Here are a few tips I have learned in my motherhood and seminary journey to help any mom thinking of balancing studying and family life.
1. Husband on board. I could not take classes and study without the help and support of my husband. Seminary stretches the marriage and requires lots of attention. Include your husband in on your dreams, prayers, and desires. Pray for him to see God’s plan for your education. Waiting on your husband to be on board is the most important step before seminary (after sensing it is something God wants you to do). When you are both on board, you persevere hand in hand when days are long instead of resentment fracturing your relationship (although that can still happen). I think communication and unity in your marriage honors God more than taking a class. I have seen a marriage dissolve and addictions develop because both people were not in it together.
2. Priorities. Write it all out. What are your family responsibilities? What can you take off your plate to add study time? Can you hire someone to help with the kids or do you have family close by? What is most important to your husband during this season? How can he help? I sat down and asked my husband what his priorities are, which are different than what I thought they would be. He also picked up managing our finances and helping with meal prep (he loves to cook). Then, I crossed off other priorities (like deep cleaning everything every week) to make room for studying. Things may not be as perfect as you would like, but sacrifice needs to come somewhere. What are you going to say no to, so you can say yes? For me, I had to say no to everything besides attending church, caring for my family, and school. That is it for me in this season. In a few years, I will be able to get involved more in church life and reaching out to the community.
3. Creative time management. Write it all out. What do you need to do and when? When will you grocery shop? When will you do laundry? When will you play with your kids? When will you rest? When will you connect with your hubby? When will you read and study? Write out everything you do and organize your chunks. My schedule never goes as planned, but it helps to be present with your kids when you know it is time for that—and to switch gears when it is time to study.
4. Say Good-bye to perfection. There is no room for perfection in seminary life. You cannot be all things to all people. Let it go. No one is super mom. Most normal people have messy closets somewhere. Do everything to the best of your ability with excellence, knowing nothing will be perfect. That is why it is important to chop down your commitments beyond family and school as much as possible.
5. Grace. Grace. Grace. As a seminarian mom I sometimes feel lame for not being as pinteresty as my neighbor, not signing up to be room mom for the kids, or not attending to the home the way I would like. But I know in the long run, filling my heart and mind with the truths of God’s Word and understanding of theology will serve my family and community more than a cute craft or brilliant professional-looking birthday party. And as my kindergartner and preschooler “pretend” to be mom—they say they’re studying the Bible to share it with others. A value I am okay that they have.
So, mama, if you are thinking about auditing or applying to seminary, my final advice is: DO IT. This is one season in your life you can take the plunge and your family and community will be better for it. Just let go of perfection and cut the number of priorities on your list. This generation needs women who are Biblically literate and can teach them how to study the Word from a feminine perspective.
Looking forward to reading your Bible studies and blogs some day soon,