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Its orientation week – day 2, to be exact of orientation week, and I learnt my first lesson today. Ok, maybe my second. My first was yesterday – I learnt that African names are incredibly difficult to pronounce and that my tongue needs daily aerobic exercises if I am going to get my new friends names right. ‘Lovely, dude and madam’ are only going to cut it for so long and then I need to be able to speak names that come from places like Namibia, Swaziland, Mozambique, the DRC and then of course within our own diverse country with its 11 official languages – My flat mate has gracefully given up correcting my pronunciation of her name – incredibly humbling I can tell you …

So ok, today’s lesson is kinda linked to that theme… life is complicated. Flip, life is complicated.

I am master at keeping things simple, as simple as possible. But for those of you who have journeyed with me will know that my journey to ministry has not been simple – it’s been pretty convoluted and disorganized and fairly painful (I am not alone in this experience either it would seem).

Rather than go into the whole debacle I will just say that I answered the call 5 years ago and started studying straight away. I was told to register for a degree with a certain institution and then I would come to the seminary to complete my studies – I was told on more than one occasion to get as much of my degree done as possible so that when I got here it wouldn’t impact my ‘other’ studies. So that’s what I did – whilst I was waiting to be accepted by the church for full time ministry I completed most of my degree, I am 3 subjects short of the end.

Today I was told by a charming man, that I need to forget about that institution, my education starts now. Can I hear a screech? I so want to use a bad word but it’s not fitting in my new capacity as seminarian to use language like that. So … I go back to first year this year and then at the end of the year I will be assessed and recognition of prior learning will hopefully buy me some credits to at some point finish my degree in Theology.

Big deep breath!

Big heaving exhalation!

How do you stay calm and amenable when you find out that you have yet again been fed misinformation, misinformation which impacts life – this is my life – studying consumes life – it’s not just something fun which happens on the side of life. It is central to life whilst you are studying … and I need to redo the last 5 years …

Actually as I write this I can feel my blood pressure starting to rise and the tears prick my eyelids … BUT, I stuck a smile on my dial and I said. Oh, ok. No that’s fine, I will start again.

Education is never wasted, I know that, but to do the same thing again, because it’s not considered top quality is very painful for a person to hear – my option was to leave seminary and finish my degree and then come back next year. REALLY? I have waited 3 years to be accepted, I am hardly going to walk away now am I?

So this information hurts – it hurts a lot. But as I walked away from the conversation, I thought to myself, well that’s life. Life is complicated. As much as we would like it not to be, the truth is today people struggle, with much worse stuff than this and so again this is a lesson in patience, forbearance, humility and empathy with others who struggle worse. I may have studied, but if it’s not good enough, then it’s not good enough. But the key is to pick oneself up, and accept what is – I will be a first year university student again and I will get it right!

Please pray for me, that as the road twists and turns that I would be able to rise up and meet the challenges with humility, forbearance and patience, trusting God and the people he has provided for guidance.

I’m off for coffee and a biscuit (thanks Kath). Yes, coffee and a biscuit and a bit of perspective, things will look different tomorrow, won’t they?

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