I am a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary! Three years of reading, writing, and learning, and I am a Master of Biblical Counseling. I am so relieved to have a brain break, but I admit that part of me is sad to leave the school behind.
DTS is not a perfect place because it is full of Christians. But despite my occasional rages against the more conservative leanings of the school, I am so grateful to have attended. My faith blossomed at DTS as I learned to see truth everywhere–in psychology textbooks, in the Bible, in nature. I learned to trust in a God bigger than I’d ever considered, a God who cannot be fathomed except that He made Himself known. I learned to stop putting so much of my identity in my GPA, to value knowledge for its own sake rather than for a grade. And more than that, I learned to put knowledge into practice, because what’s the point of having wisdom if it doesn’t affect the way you live and love other people?
Most of all, DTS taught me to appreciate grace. I live so often by the law of karma, demanding good for the good things I do and expecting bad when I do something wrong. I learned, by teaching and by experience, that God throws cause and effect out of the window. I learned to delight in a God who gives and gives and gives, who held out His arms to His people no matter how many times they ran away from Him.
I learned to become comfortable with myself. I got in touch with my isolationist tendencies and saw how often I avoid intimacy because I fear being hurt. I realized how desperately I try to impress people, putting on a show of humor, intelligence, and compassion. It became clear that so much of who I am is a cupboard of masks, trying different ones on until one fits. But then….I realized that I am those masks. I’m a mess! Sometimes I’m smart, sometimes I’m an idiot. Sometimes I make wise decisions, and sometimes I say “screw it.” Sometimes I follow the rules, and sometimes I disobey. Sometimes I’m ready to listen, and sometimes I just want everyone to shut up. I am all of me, and God loves every single weird mask I bring to the world. He even loves the one I wear for Him, desperate for His approval and blessing. God’s grace showed me that I don’t have to divide myself up; I am both saint and sinner. I am beautiful and horrible, and God loves me.
Considering what I have just written, it might seem as though I did not actually learn anything about counseling. Nothing could be further from the truth. The deep comfort I found in myself and in God changed how I relate to the beautiful, weird, pain-filled people around me. I came to see that the brokenness of the world affects us all in multiple ways, and we all cling to different life rafts in a desperate attempt to stay afloat. I saw that my perfectionist raft was no better than someone else’s alcohol raft or sex raft or reclusive raft. We’re all scrambling for meaning and hope. When I knew that I was the same, something shifted in me, and I was able to love in a deeper way than ever before. And that, I think, will carry into my counseling, my friendships, and my ministry.
DTS has given me a wonderful three years. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. There is still so much I have to learn, and relearn, because these lessons stick only until life becomes hard and I fall back on old habits. But I am several steps further along, and I am grateful to Dallas Theological Seminary for leading me.