I was asked to write a piece for Kerux about my previous career and how it shaped me for seminary. Well, that is not a simple question. First of all, I have had a couple of careers, the first one was a nurse and the second and last career I had prior to coming to seminary was as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. I guess one thing that God prepared me for through these two careers, was being a perpetual student.
I am not sure how to tell you how these careers have helped shape me for seminary, but I can tell you how my life and relationship with God shaped me for seminary.
I was born into a Christian home and went to Christian school through high school. There was never a time that I remember, when I did not believe in God. But after I graduated from high school, I decided that I was not going to go to church anymore. I was working every other weekend as a nurse’s aid to earn money for nursing school and I was just too lazy to get out of bed. This one decision led to a very slippery slope of decisions that led me farther and farther from God, or so I thought. While my behavior and what I thought I believed, that there was no God, deep inside, God revealed, that HE had never left me.
It took over thirty some years before I returned to church and found the God I never really knew. There was a very bad marriage, a worse divorce, and the loss of custody of our three adopted daughters that finally led me back to the only true life I had ever known. At the time, I was not sure that I even wanted to live, but if I was going to keep breathing, it was going to have to be with help that was bigger than myself. God was there to forgive everything I did and to enclose me into a loving church family. He taught me how to pray, how to go to him with everything, and how to grow in faith, drawing me closer to him. During this time in my life, I read everything I could find to help me understand what the Bible was saying. All I could hear was God saying, “Go deeper.” So, I kept reading, searching for how to live this new life that excluded me from my daughter’s lives.
Over the next several years, God gradually led me to women that I had known peripherally, who were going to Calvin Seminary. He kept putting people and situations in my life that unmistakably led me to CTS. So, one day I came for an interview and was accepted. But I still was working as a physician at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. How could I support myself while going to CTS? Trusting God for the answers to those questions led him to make it infinitely clear that he wanted me to devote my full attentions to studying at CTS. God even orchestrated the exact day that I left work.
It has been harder than I imagined, being here at CTS. Not just trying to study subjects that are not the sciences, but also the amount of time that class and studying takes. I find that I have to intentionally make time to be with God, alone, praying and listening. It has been more difficult to maintain that relationship with God then I thought. But thankfully, the ongoing crises in my life continue to remind me who is my Savior and my ever-present help. God has put some amazing people here to help us lean on each other and pray for each other. Through harder times than I could imagine, God continues to show himself faithful. My challenge is to continue to remember to go to him first and to stay near him. Not to rely on my grades or external things to define who I am now in this season of my life, is another challenge for me. But God continues to reveal himself to me, as I search for him, and he shows me how he sees me. This I rely on. This is how I have been shaped since arriving at CTS.
By Janice Coates