Thursday, October 23, 2008

Unforeseen Paths

I said good-bye to a good friend at work today. She and her husband are moving to California, to work out of the SAP Palo Alto office. I have known her since my very first day at Firstlogic, and we have worked on the same projects for much of my time here. Although I know this move is very good for them, I can’t help but be saddened that I will no longer see her every day.

I’ve said good-bye to several friends leaving SAP over the last few months. Some are still in the area, but the sad reality is that, since I don’t see them at work, I never see them. It’s on my mind a lot at the moment because, if all goes as planned, I can see my own good-bye coming down the line.

I have felt unfulfilled at work for a couple of years now. Although programming is still intellectually challenging and sometimes even fun, working for a large corporation, making money for people I’ll never meet, is empty and not good for the soul, or at least not good for mine. This really hit home when Tami and I were in Annapolis last May for my brother Kevin’s retirement from the Marine Corps. While ruminating on changes, transitions, and the old giving way to the new, I realized that I am not in the right place.

What is the right place? After months of soul-searching, prayer, talking to people, and other forms of discernment, I feel that God is calling me to become a pastor in our denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I have officially started the process—candidacy--leading to attending seminary and eventual ordination. Tami and I have told our families, and I have made this public at our church, so it’s time to start telling everyone else.

Surprised? Believe me, it came as a surprise to me at first, too. But the more I explored the idea, the more right it has felt. It was cemented earlier this month when Tami and I spent a weekend at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, at an event for prospective seminary students. Tami summed up that weekend so well in an email to our families that I will just quote her:

“Our main concern going into the weekend was that Luther wasn't going to be a good fit as far as family life, but those worries have been erased from our minds.

“I [Tami] was likely the more skeptical one there of the two of us, and by Monday afternoon I was wishing we could move there sooner rather than later. I was also doing my best to figure out how we could BOTH be taking classes as Luther offers a number of M.A. programs, including more than one that interests me. So, while we're there we just may both figure out what we want to do when we grow up. :-)

“I don't know what I can briefly say about Luther other than it is a vibrant place totally alive with love of learning and love of God ... a community of faith and a community of life-long learning.

“Other points of note -- Shawn's fears of being the oldest were totally put to rest both in seeing the current students and in conversing with the other prospective students. It is a very diverse bunch there (and what a blessing that will be for our family as well!). I also think he/we are a little less scared of Greek now. :-)

“Now the scary part is getting our house ready to sell and our lives ready for transition. So keep us in your thoughts and prayers on that note!

“I also do not yet know what this will mean for Megan's schedule. Megan and I have begun talking about it, and I assured her there is time to decide and that we'll take her wishes into account. … Again, another area where we can use all the positive thoughts and prayers possible.”

I [Shawn] came home from Luther convinced that my call is real, and that seminary is the place for me. I submitted my name for the candidacy process the next day. To have Tami feel so strongly positive about it as well is a blessing of incalculable worth. While I would love to start next fall, we feel that the best time to make such a major transition is when Nessa starts kindergarten, so we are targeting summer of 2010 for our move. This gives us more time to get the house ready and to sell it as well.

We will be attending a similar event at Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, IA, in a couple of weeks, but (to quote Tami again): “we would be surprised if we didn't still prefer Luther. Since Luther has a better geographic location going for it in terms of where we want to be located as well as proximity to resources in the Twin Cities, Wartburg would have to overcome all of that by its community and seminary offerings. Considering we fell in love with the Luther community, we're not sure that is possible, LOL.”

I have been feeling a great sense of peace since arriving at this decision. I feel even better now that we are beginning to share this with everyone. If you pray, please keep us in your prayers. If not, please wish us well and keep us in your thoughts. As Tami says, “Regardless of the challenges, we pray we are ready for them as we venture on a journey that we don't know where we'll end up.” I never expected to take this path, but now that I’m firmly on it I’m very excited to see where it leads. And I thank God every day that I will have my soulmate by my side as I go.


Anonymous said...

I have to say, initially, I found this post surprising (to say the least). :) Upon reflection, though, I think it will work out very well for you! Best wishes to you and Tami in your new adventures.


Tami of BrooksGroth said...

Finally a comment, LOL. We felt if any post would get someone to comment, this would be it. :-)

Thanks for your note ... and for admitting surprise ... so few people have been that it has surprised us, lol. Talk to you soon!

Janeen said...

Wow! Big news! Almost as big as me going to South Korea! We'll have to get together before we go then for sure and figure and some other things too that I'm not thinking of. lol Getting rid of stuff before moving oh boy do I know how that goes! Things can go to family or if that is not an option, freecycle or Craig's List. We've been using both of those. We do have a few things in storage, things that are very important to me that I don't want to get rid of just yet. But yeah, big moves are pretty crazy, do you expect Nessa to have any set backs as far as potty training? I'm preparing for that with Natalie, just in case.

Anonymous said...

God truly works in wonderful, mysterious ways!
This is wonderful news!
Love to you all!!
Amy and Jay