Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Women’s Identities

Sorting through closets

Sorting through closets
I’m overcome by sadness
about what?

Beloved outfits, yes
And also reminders of a time
when I was what?

Somebody?
A worker bee all dressed up for slaughter?
A shining star in someone else’s grand career?

I need another outlook
On these outgrown outfits
Consciously assembled to cover
A harmless woman
Not seeking glory or fame
Easy to work with
A good team player
Not given to outlandish clothes
Or calling attention to herself

I’m not mean
I’m neat and tidy
Unpretentious
Don’t mess with me
And by the way
I’m not sure who I am

Today’s work isn’t the end
It’s a beginning
An expansion
Not of what’s in my closet
But in my spirit —
The spirit of our Creator
Whose expansiveness goes
Beyond the boundaries of my small world
Into the vast unexplored territory
Of the woman I am already becoming

Most of my time right now is spent getting things ready for the contractors. They’ll begin work this coming Monday. In the meantime, we’ve been sorting things out, making another dent in our worldly goods.

As relieved as I am to be doing all this, I’m also grieving. The poem above is about going beyond my small world. Still, I carry happy memories of past collaborations with colleagues, and lively courses with students. My clothes are a reminder of good times, not just the other times.

Today I’m expanding. I also feel the drag of my upbringing and life as a woman in college, seminary-land, church, and society in general. I remind myself that our Creator is constantly expanding, moving into new territory, and calling out to us to follow, ready or not.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 September 2019
Image found at pixabay.com

Going to Seminary | Part 1

FTS, PaytonHall_Day_0021

The Garth — meeting place, lunch plaza, outdoor office, place to hang out. The Library gleams at the far end. Not much has changed in The Garth since 1973.

It’s late spring 1973. I’ll turn 30 this year. After 8 years of marriage and nearly 5 years of motherhood, including 4 years as a Faculty Wife, I don’t know who I am!

How do I know this? Because I have to send a personal essay with my application, and I don’t know how to answer all the questions.

Other people don’t have a problem knowing who I am:

  • D’s wife, Faculty Wife, part-time instructor of music and piano
  • Hostess, mother of cute son and cute daughter
  • Intelligent, laundress, caretaker, seamstress, cook, gardener, house cleaner and dish washer.
  • Also graduate of the Bible College, Diane’s sister, and preacher’s kid.

Even if I figure out who I am, I still have to write an essay about MY goals, including MY vision for MY life beyond seminary!

My goals are simple: Get through one day at a time without too much drama, heartache, disappointment or quarreling. Did I write this in my essay? No.

My vision for my life beyond seminary is even more difficult. The easy answer: Follow D wherever he goes!

Not very original, I know, but I’m clueless. Furthermore, I don’t feel fire in my bones about anything in particular beyond the needs of today. Is that so bad?

I got through the getting-to-know-you questions. They were easy. Something about my family, my church, my education up to then, my hobbies and things like that.

But then came the biggie: Why do I want to go to Seminary?

What I actually said was something like this:

  • I want to read and study, especially theology and the Bible.

True enough. It fit the pattern of my life so far.

What didn’t I say? It was also true. I thought it in my head, and I’m going to tell you right now what it was:

  • My Bible College degree isn’t accredited. If I ever want to do further study beyond seminary, a degree from an accredited seminary would validate all academic work I’d completed up to then.

Brilliant, true and pragmatic! Like I said, though, I didn’t write this in my application.

Another question was also difficult. They wanted to know about major growth in my life in the last several years. I wrote a harmless surface answer that didn’t communicate much substance at all. Nevertheless, it was true.

More interesting is what I didn’t write. Here it is:

  • I’ve grown in skills—the kind needed for being a mother, housewife and hostess.
  • I’ve also grown in practical knowledge–the kind needed to care for sick babies and young children, and how to make homemade yogurt, jam or bread. Or stretch dollars to last as long as possible.

Then there was the spiritual growth question. Yes, I’d grown there, too. Mainly in my ability to be a servant, not a leader. I don’t look down on being a servant. It just means I’m there to help you be the best person you can be. Often without attention to my own preferences or needs.

One other tough question: When did you become a Christian? I don’t know. I grew up being one. I can’t tell you when, where or how it happened. I can’t remember how I finessed that one.

It’s a good thing they didn’t ask me what books I’d read recently. Would they count Dr. Seuss books? Babar the Elephant books? The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe? Dr. Spock? Adelle Davis?

Is there a point to this rambling? Yes!

We have a twofold mismatch here that happily became a match. I wasn’t the kind of student they were looking for, and they didn’t have a clue how to deal with women who were entering the seminary.

When I entered seminary in fall 1973, there were 500 students total. Of these, 30 were women.

To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 November 2015
Photo thanks to Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California

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