Saturday May 13, 2023 I attended the Dallas Theological Seminary 2023 Commencement Ceremony and walked across the stage to signify my accomplishment of receiving a dual degree. I received a Masters in Media Arts & Worship and a Masters in Apologetics & Evangelism.

Six years ago I thought about going back to school for a masters. I wanted to do something that I could see myself putting my whole self into. I thought about geology or geography and continuing what I started in my undergraduate education. But I couldn’t see myself loving it. I could only see it as something that I “needed” to do, like an obligation. It didn’t feel meaningful. It didn’t feel like it would help anyone. It didn’t feel right. So I thought and thought. I prayed.

I had always wanted to study religion but I never considered that it could help anyone but me. After becoming follower of Christ in 2013, I had found a new purpose for my life–to live for Christ. Part of living for him is being able to teach the Bible and share it with others. Through my prayers, it became clear that I needed to get a seminary education to equip me for God’s work of teaching and sharing the Word of God and the love of Christ.

Over these last five years in this chapter of my life I have grown in my love for God. I have gained a greater appreciation for the Bible. My faith and strength in the Lord has increased tremendously. I have learned a great deal about God and about the Bible. I won’t go into the specifics of what I’ve learned. But I will say that all of it has been helpful in my formation as a Christian. I have met so many people along the way that have encouraged me and been by my side. I have made some great friends that will stay with me for a lifetime.

Getting two masters degrees is no joke. These years have been some of the most difficult years of my life. When I began seminary, I had no idea what I was getting into. It had been ten years since I graduated from college. Studying and writing papers was a huge challenge for me. I had forgotten how to do them. But I managed to pull through.

My mental health suffered. I had to take a leave of absence one semester because it got so bad. I was hospitalized for over two weeks and I thought I couldn’t go on. That was one of the most difficult times of my life. I despaired. It was painful. But the Psalms helped me through that time because they seemed to speak directly to me. I trusted in God to see me through. Psalm 40:1-3 (NIV) fits it perfectly:

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

Even though I went through that challenging time, God was with me the whole time. I had people praying for me and encouraging me. God carried me out of that pit and I began to see light again. I resumed my seminary studies more resilient. I realized my purpose again. The rest of my time at seminary wasn’t without its challenges, but I had a clearer outlook. Life began to look up.

Seminary strengthened me in so many ways. It has made me more resilient to withstand suffering and despair. It has made me a more committed Christian. It has affirmed my passions in writing, photography, and helping people see Christ. I’m excited for what’s to come in the future. And I’m looking forward to a lifetime of serving God and people.

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