Yesterday, after a lot of prayer and thought, I determined that I needed to suspend my graduate studies and formally withdraw from the M.Div. program that I began last fall.  It was not an easy decision, but it was a necessary one.  I had been overly optimistic in thinking that I could get back in the classroom without impacting my ministry and family responsibilities.  My ability to juggle the additional work load is apparently not the same at age 49 as it was 25 years ago. 

In the past, I ignored the signs and symptoms of being spread too thin, being far too proud at that time to admit that there was anything that I couldn’t do.  So, I insisted on pressing on, and paid a dear price as a result.  I was beginning to recognize the signs and to sense the familiar symptoms and stresses.  Experience has convinced me that I cannot afford to travel down that road again.  Graduate study was the variable in my life’s equation that could be altered.

There is a sense of disappointment, but it is a “good” disappointment, knowing that it was for my greater overall good, along with that of my family and ministry.  I have accepted the blessing of having had the opportunity to earn B.A. and M.A. degrees in theological studies, and can now be contentedly resigned to the fact that the pursuit of additional academic degrees does not fit within the framework of my life and the limitations of my circumstances.  I have the satisfaction of having tried and failed, rather than a perpetual, nagging, unanswerable questioning of “I wonder if I could have.” 

I take comfort in knowing that my foray back into the classroom, brief though it was, has rekindled some fires and re-whetted my appetite for ongoing learning, to which I will remain committed throughout the years ahead, though not in a formal graduate program.  The level of instruction in Oklahoma Christian University’s Graduate School of Theology is outstanding, and I would highly recommend the program to those who are seeking to further their ministry training and theological studies.   I am grateful for the knowledge gained, the new connections made, and the old relationships renewed.

Inspirational messages and anecdotes from great orators and motivators can convince us to defy boundaries, refuse the confines of limitations, and burst through barriers to achieve greatness beyond our imaginations.  As you have already surmised, this is not one of those messages.  For those people who can and who do, God bless you and strengthen you; I’ll stand with the rest to praise your achievements and victories. 

However, my decision to discontinue my graduate studies serves as somewhat of a counterweight and a reality check that sometimes we have to recognize, accept, and live within our own limitations, and to do so with contentment and without regret.

That is a blessing in and of itself!