So yesterday, in front of a gallery of a couple dozen friends, a committee of five professors from Princeton Theological Seminary questioned me about my dissertation for just over 90 minutes. Then they dismissed all of us from the room, voted, and awarded me with the degree, Doctor of Philosophy.
This culminates an eight-year journey that includes, among other things, two cross-country moves, the birth of a third child, the publication of four books, a divorce, a new business, myriad speaking gigs, falling in love, the death of my dog and the addition of a new dog. Several persons have asked me today, “Would you do it if you knew how hard it would be?” and “Was it worth it?” I have no answer to those questions. I simply know that I’m glad I finished it. Glad beyond words. It has been, without question, the most challenging decade of my life.
I am grateful to my many friends who have consistently encouraged me.
Some — most notably Doug — have been close friends who have made sure that I didn’t give up, even when I was pretty well convinced that I wasn’t going to complete the project. In fact, I would very much like to say that Doug Pagitt deserves a part of this degree. (Maybe he can get the “h” in the Ph.D.) Seriously, I doubt that I could have finished it without his support.
Other close friends and family have asked me how it’s going and encouraged me to finish, without once shaming me for taking so long to complete it. My parents and brothers have been unequivocally supportive. And many blog readers, Facebook friends, and Twitter followers have dropped me encouraging notes through the years as well. More than once, I’ve been speaking somewhere, and someone has come up to tell me that they were following my progress on the blog and that they’d love to read my dissertation someday.
Toward the end of this process, Courtney came into my life, and she has been singularly positive and joyous in the face of all the tumult in my life. I thank her most deeply. I end with a picture of her and me just after my defense, as seen by Bethany Stolle. I’m afraid that, because of the personal nature of this post, I am closing the comments — you can leave a note for me on Facebook or Twitter.