2009 was a traumatizing year. I had just finished my second year of theological training at a university in the south when I received news that I was not going to be able to go back because of the finances. Initially I took it calmly because I knew that God was able to do something over the summer, if He wanted. I was also confident that theology was the direction that God wanted me to go into because I had extensive discussions about it prior to my going. I knew that things may not go my way, but I couldn’t let it be because of my lack of faith. So I had the audacity to hope.
As you can tell, there was no miracle. In light of this new reality, I began to question if my understanding of what God wanted me to do was correct. I thought I was doing it, but now it didn’t seem so apparent. Added to this was the fact that I had to come home and explain to family and church members what happened. It’s one thing if you make one general declaration that everybody hears at the same time, it’s another to have to retell a frustrating matter over and over again.
As you can imagine, this was not a fun experience. I anticipate that some would say that I should not have said anything. There are two problems with that sort of thinking. The first one is that in the Haitian community if one chooses to go into theological studies it is considered the greatest thing in the world–next to doctors and lawyers. Therefore not saying anything before I left would have been seen as disrespectful. Besides, they would have found out anyway. How can I go study something that deals with spiritual life and keep it from the church?
The second point that one has to consider is my personality. Had I been a person who was disconnected with the members of the church, then one can argue that I didn’t have to say anything. However, I’m a person who interacts with most of the members. The warmth, I suppose, that generates from me makes it easier for them to gravitate towards my direction. Therefore, to say that not saying anything initially and afterwards was the best thing to do is not only unrealistic, but disrespectful.
The words of encouragement that were given went in one ear and out the other. In fact, though they were considered to be words of encouragement by those who spoke them, they didn’t come across as such. I was in deep depression and didn’t care to hear what people assume that God was doing or is going to do. The idea of talking me into being happy and thinking optimistically didn’t sit too well with me. I was down and really wanted to be left alone.
I kept my composure and just dragged along, but deep inside I was very angry at God. I still went to church and I still prayed. That was evident of what I knew to be true: God is real. In my mind that fact was inescapable. I decided that even if I was given the opportunity to go back I would not go back. Eventually, to the dismay of many, I decided that preaching wasn’t something that I wanted to do anymore. The decision to give up preaching wasn’t really a difficult one because I didn’t consider myself to be a good preacher and I had no intentions of being a pastor, I wanted to be a theology professor.
In spite of my decision, this year I ended up preaching on two Sabbaths and speaking at countless youth devotions. Some view this as a resurgence, but its really not. Base on my understanding of spiritual gifts–given to be used, I do plan to continue to do youth devotions on Friday nights, but to avoid the pulpit on Sabbath mornings–to the best of my ability. I’m leaving the preaching to the ministers in training and the aspiring preachers, of which I’m none. It is the only way that I can deal with what happened.
When viewed in light of what I could have done and where I could have been, I view the two years spent in theology as wasted time. I may be wrong, but who really knows but God? The experience has affected my view of what one can do in life. I use to believe that there is something set aside for everyone to do, and maybe I still do in theory, but I have reasoned that since this is not a perfect state of existence, one has to do what will bring financial stability. This is the fundamental reasoning under my decision to major in Accounting.
This is not really an encouraging piece is it? The reality is that sometimes we need to hear about the journey before it ends. The typical way of dealing with experiences is to not only tell the ones that have good endings, but to tell them after a glorified end point has been identified. We rarely hear from those who are currently going through things. This is one objective of this piece, and as you can tell it is not for the faint of heart.
Why did I leave theology? I didn’t leave, rather, I couldn’t go back. But now, I have left and do not plan to go back. I’m not fully content with the way things are; I’m better suited for studying history or something of that sort. However, since money is what is talking right now, I have lend an ear. My experience is not over. Despite what some may say to encourage me, my experience is still my experience. God, whom I am convince exists and is active in human affairs, is doing something. When I know what it is, I will let you know. Perhaps the lesson so far is that I still believe.