Well, it’s official. I am a D. Min dropout. Most of you know that I started working on my doctor of ministry degree from Candler in August of 2014. I was very excited to be part of the first cohort of the program. The focus was on “biblical interpretation and proclamation,” and I was ready to take it on. And then life happened. When I found out that I was pregnant with Xavier, I realized that our J term class during the 2nd year fell right around my due date, and then I would be on maternity leave through most of the spring semester. I couldn’t fathom as a first time mom dealing with a newborn and course work, and obviously recovering from childbirth.
I also, in the meantime, got involved with the IN delegation to jurisdictional conference and started serving on the Board of Ordained Ministry, and found myself busy and interested in other parts of ministry in my congregation. So…my enthusiasm for the D. Min program quickly faded. And I learned something about myself…that perhaps online learning wasn’t really my thing anyway, which was a difficult realization for me. Even more difficult was the realization that I would eventually withdraw from the program. And even MORE difficult was hearing from the faculty, “I understand, but I am disappointed that you are choosing not to return.”
But you know what? It’s okay. I had to get over my feelings of feeling like I failed at something or feeling like a quitter. Having a baby has changed the way that I see the world, and I honestly was not prepared for how much it has changed the way that I see things. I have also had to learn (and I’m still learning) how to say “no” and what to say “no” to. It’s been a good lesson for me, and a difficult one. I’ve never said “no” so much in my entire life! It also means that the things I say “yes” to are things that I treasure and choose to spend my time doing, whether personally or professionally. Time is so very precious these days.
I have also had to rediscover where my interests are at this point in my life, and be okay with the fact that the D.Min program just wasn’t on my interest list anymore. Will it be in the future? Possibly! For now, I have chosen to focus on other things, such as my family, ministry in my new appointment, and continuing to serve the church in a variety of ways. I had to choose to say “no, not right now,” and that was the best choice for me.
So yes, I am a D.Min dropout…but I prefer to think of it as “not right now,” and “exploring other avenues.” I won’t be Rev. Dr. Jill Howard…but for now, I’ll stick with and celebrate my other titles: M.Div, Rev., pastor, wife, daughter, sister, friend…and my latest one…Mom. And that’s okay with me!