New Kid In Class

“Are you gonna blog about going back to school?”

Since I announced last month that I was accepted as a student at Northern Seminary, I’ve had a number of people ask me if I was going to write about the experience. Though I’ve been blogging since 2006 and attempt to write honestly about many facets of my life, particularly when it comes to matter of faith and practice, my first inclination was to tell people, “I will blog about school once I have a couple of classes under my belt and once I figure out how we’re going to pay for it and once I know if I’ll like it and once I know if my teachers and classmates will like me.”

In other words, no. I worried that these school-themed posts would tend toward narcissistic self-reporting. When I share bits of my own story in my writing, I do so because I want to challenge and inspire others to seek Jesus honestly in their own lives. I wasn’t really sure anyone would be all that interested in the story of a 54-year-old Jewish grandmother’s seminary adventure.

When I got over myself, I realized that those fears were just a smokescreen for a deeper fear. What if I fail? And I drilled down into that a bit. What might it feel like to get a crappy grade on a paper? What if the only class I can afford to take is the one for which I’m registered this quarter? I haven’t been in a classroom in 35 years! It would be a lot safer to wait until I have a happily-ever-after-in-process sort of story to tell rather than writing about the process.

You know, God doesn’t call us to safety. He calls us to courage.

So my first act of courage on this subject is to confess to you that I’m a little scared. And after today’s new student orientation, I discovered I’m in good company. Every person with whom I chatted voiced an apprehension: “How will I manage my time and still have a life?”, “How will this change me?”,”I’m worried about all the writing I’ll have to do!” My future classmates also spoke about their excitement to learn, to grow and to serve God and others. You know what? I’m in good company there, too. 

I had a great day today hearing from some of the staff and faculty. I was impressed by the humility, honesty and grace that characterized almost every presentation.

Plus I got one of these:

(I suggested to one of my classmates that maybe I could combine my student discount with an A.A.R.P. discount in order to net double savings.)  

Class begins Monday, September 23. Many of you have had wonderful words affirming this step in my life, and I’m grateful. Watch this space to see how the story unfolds. I really, truly am looking forward to sharing it with you.

"Childishness, Richard. I keep telling you to try grow up."

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  • Tim

    God calls us to courage, not safety – good point, Michelle. And I – for one among many, apparently – am very interested in how this is all going for you. Nice student Id, by the way!

  • Nancy Radler

    I admire your courage in writing about your experience. Other than one post on Facebook that I had been accepted to graduate school, I have managed to fly under the radar. I hadn’t been to school in 32 years and the fear was astronomical. Added to that I was changing careers and the majority of my classmates are (still) the same age as my oldest son. Keep up the good work…this is what you have always been meant to do!

    • Michelle Van Loon

      When will you be done, Nancy? (I’m so glad you’re still in school!)

      • Nancy Radler

        If all goes according to plan, I should be done by the end of August, 2014. And you?

        • Michelle Van Loon

          I’m still trying to figure out how to pay for my next class! It’ll be a while for me.

          HOME STRETCH, Nancy! You’re in the home stretch!