I wanted to take a moment to just reflect on the experience up to this point. We are in the 14th week of our year long study and I’ve experienced a range of emotions throughout this time. I thought it would be helpful for me to just write about how I’ve felt throughout this process. Kind of like a little reset and kick in the butt moment. Overall I’ve really enjoyed the experience and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that this is really challenging. I knew it would be tough, but I didn’t realize that it would be this tough. I’ve learned the Bible has a lot more in it than I expected. The Bible addresses some interesting topics. I’ve also learned some things about myself that I never anticipated.
The first few weeks were smooth sailing. I was really excited about starting this journey. After two weeks in, I found out Father Kevin was elected as the next Bishop of the Diocese of Delaware. Although I kind of expected this, I was still really bothered by this outcome. I was excited for him as I knew this was his next calling, but I was sad for me and for my congregation. I could’ve just said that I was just being selfish and kept it quiet, but I think it was important for me to share my thoughts with others. So I did. I was happy, sad, mad, disappointed, ecstatic, etc. all at one time. For a time I started to feel a little abandoned. I was looking forward to going through this journey with Father Kevin and I started to wonder if I was going to do this alone. Thankfully Deacon Gene approached me and said he was on board and ready to go. I knew I wasn’t alone. Then others from the church let me know they were doing it too. In fact, some others actually said they felt like they were all alone too. So we created a Facebook group and invited people to read along. We try to meet once a week to check in at church. Sometimes I wonder if it’s too often, but I’ll go with it for now.
I’ve also noticed that the amount I write changes day to day. Sometimes I’ll write for what feels like hours. Clearly something resonated with me during that reading. The times I enjoy the most are when I can relate something I read in the Bible to current events (see here, here, or here). I recently met with a clergy member of a different church who is also serving as a guide for me throughout this process. She told me that I have to continue to write like that. I still want to focus on the summaries I write just for my own understandings, but I realize that I need to also focus on what the reading says to me. What the reading means to me.
I’ve noticed that other times I just write a summary of what I’ve read. That usually happens when I start to get a little behind or I’m really tired. I used to get upset when I noticed I had several days like that in a row. Then I realized there is no set amount I need to write. I just need to let that go.
I’ve also learned a lot about history. The notes in the two study bible versions I’m reading are really helpful (NRSV and CEB). All of the resources on Bible Gateway have also been really helpful (NOTE: I subscribed to the Plus version which is why I have access to all of the resources). I’ve always enjoyed learning about history, so this is pretty exciting. Another thing I’ve learned is that I really didn’t know much about the Bible. As I said above, there are a lot of things in the Bible that I never anticipated (story of Onan and Tamar in Genesis 38 was surprising). Something else I learned is that the Bible can be really confusing. I have to read some of the readings many times, do a lot of research, and ask for guidance before I understand what’s going on.
Some other things have emerged throughout this process. First, I’m still trying to get used to the psalms. Those things bug me. Honestly, how many times does the psalmist have to ask God to kill their enemies. I’ve always been under the impression that everyone just loves the psalms and started to wonder if something’s wrong with me. Others have also expressed frustration, so at least I’m not alone. Many clergy members have told me to just go with it. To just read the psalms more like hymns, which is pretty much what they are. That’s helped. Father Kevin also told me that I have a lifetime to study the psalms. My F3 brother told me to pray about it. All of that has helped. I still get a little irritated with the psalms, but it’s definitely improved.
Second, I’ve noticed a change in my mood/personality during this experience. I’ve told many people this, but I’ve noticed I’m more calm and relaxed when I read. This has been really evident the past 10 days as I slowly got behind. I was so busy last week with work and vestry responsibilities that I started to fall behind a lot. This really frustrated me. I actually started to get mad about it. I wondered if I was starting to fail because of this. Then, a friend put a simple note to a post that really helped. Next, my lovely bride told me that she was really impressed with my dedication and hard work. It was just what I needed to hear.
Finally, so far this has been an incredible experience for me. I would’ve never thought that I would sit down and read the Bible from beginning to end. I especially never thought I would help others do it. I’m happy with how the experience has gone so far and look forward to the next part in my journey.