You RUINED Bible Study for Me

Most often the dread lurks beneath the surface, but once a year it is impossible to block out.  Once a year, it has to be dealt with--once a year, when it's "Back to School" time--when it's time to sign up for Bible Study.

Don't hear me wrong.  I love me some Bible study.  But, like almost everything else in life, that term "Bible study" means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  And college, well, college ruined Bible study for me.  Don't hear this wrong either.  Because my opportunity to study the Bible at Ouachita Baptist University, with its, dare I say, world class, Biblical Studies department, was one of the highlights of my life.

I'm sure you see where this is going now, though.  See, I studied the Bible.  Like, for a grade.  Like, in it's original languages (not well, mind you; but I attempted).  Like, with professors who have been studying it longer than I've been alive (some of them, at least).  And it. was. the. best.  I'm not talking, they had inspirational things to say.  I'm talking, they attempted to teach me how to learn, use, and understand all the tools that are needed to study the Bible--both from an academic standpoint but also from a spiritual standpoint.  And, I have to be honest and tell you, that it is coming at the Bible from an academic standpoint that was really fun for me.

It may be because I am most comfortable operating in the academic sphere.  I had been successful in that realm in the past, and I felt as if it was something I could be successful at in the present.  At this point, you're scrolling to the bottom of this post to see if there is a sweet picture of the kids.  And, there's not, so feel free to stop reading if you're bored to tears.

So, for four years, I had the privilege of interacting with current research.  I learned anthropology and sociology as it pertains to time periods surrounding the evolution of the Biblical texts.  I learned histories of the uses and abuses and misunderstandings of all things "Biblical."  I learned all the pertinent geography for the test and then promptly forgot 95% of it, because I just don't have a passion for the location of each ancient city (although their locations are truly crucial in understanding what is going on in text--that's why your Bible has those fun little maps in it).

So, surely I've painted enough of the picture.  Sheer academic bliss, and then, graduation.  Now, everyone makes their own choices, yes?  Can we all agree that my choices are not necessarily an indictment of the choices of others?  I hope so, because I'm about to share a few of them, and it's not to indict anyone else.  I proceeded to not go to graduate school.  I worked while my husband finished up his graduate degree.  I was truly envious every day he sat at Duke Divinity School learning "more than me."  But I had a goal.  I wanted to have kids, and I wanted to stay at home with them.  So, I did.  And, I love it.  I can honestly tell you that I want to be home with them.  I've always found it strange when I encountered people who thought some women should stay home with their children, but other women, smart women, should do something "more."  I don't understand why we don't want the smart women home with kids.  Raising kids takes some smarts.  Can I get an amen?

Anyway, lest you get the impression that my life is all sunshine and roses--loved college then and loves whatever this is called now--I'll let you in on my deep, dark secret.  I feel like I should start a support group, and we'd all stand up at the beginning, introduce ourselves, and saying, "Hi, I'm Lauren, and The Pruet School of Christian Studies ruined Bible study for me."  And before you think I'm an arrogant annoyance who thinks everyone who likes Bible study is beneath me intellectually, please, hear me out.

First, I've forgotten such a huge, regrettable amount of what I learned in college.  I would expound to convince you, but it's just too depressing for me to go on.  So, it's not me thinking I know more than others, because I seriously don't.

Second, I have tried and tried again.  And for the longest time I told myself I was just an arrogant jerk who thought I was better than everyone.

And, then, when talking to my mom the other day, I finally was able to articulate why it's so unfulfilling.  Sitting in Bible study makes me feel alone.  Alone because my mind automatically goes to the interpretive method discussed in "Grasping God's Word" (complete with PowerPoint materials by none other than Jonathan Ryan Kelley).  Alone because I want to read along in my Greek New Testament.  Alone because I want to talk about the most recent debates and scholarship surrounding whatever we're studying.  Alone because I'm not particularly interested in what ten other women thought of when they read what we're "studying."

And, again, before you feel as if I'm saying it doesn't matter what other women (or men) think of when they read a particular passage, please know that I think one of the other reasons why I feel alone in these situations is that in some ways, through no fault of the teaching faculty at OBU, I have left behind my ability or my desire to read the Bible in a devotional way.  And that is not something I'm proud of, and it is certainly not something that was a goal of my theological education.  It's something I let happen, and it's certainly not anything irreversible.  For right now, it just is.

It's just the case that most people with my level of education in this area are operating in another sphere than I am currently operating in.  Not all, of course.  I have friends scattered all around, and we all studied this stuff together.  I just haven't found a way for us all to sit down once a week and study together.  I do wish I could.  It's not just that.  I have forgotten so much.  I could not participate in the sort of study I wish I could attend.  That's how much I've forgotten.  But, I could listen.  And, I love to listen.  I was the kid who spied on her parents, constantly.  Just because I wanted to be "in on it."  Whatever "it" was.  So, I so desperately want to be "in" on what I left behind; but there is no way I would forfeit what I have going right now.  I'm convinced I'm where I need to be; however that doesn't mean I don't miss academia, particularly Biblical Studies and Theology.  (If I'm being completely honest, I don't miss Greek; but I do miss the lectures and the readings classes where I got to understand how crucial the original language is to understanding the text.)

I think if my professors were reading this, they'd be sad; and I know they'd be disappointed.  And I know many of them would recommend I teach one myself.  "Use your gifts!" they'd say.  "Get back into it!  You remember more than you think you do!"  And they would probably be right.  But I don't feel as if I have the time or energy to do so.  And, again, that's probably a statement that could be unpacked in therapy for hours and hours (along with all I've shared above), but again, for right now, it just is.

So, this year, I'm hoping to try something different.  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity, right?  I'd considered studying some at home, and attempting a little blogging to get it out of my system, but I don't think it's the right time for that.  I have a lot of "me" to work on before I take the responsibility of teaching the "Truth according to God according to Lauren."  A lot to work on!  Instead, I'm hoping to join a group that is centered around reading books other than the Bible to help understand it, think about it, and apply it to every day life.  (Nowhere does their material say that's what they do, but that's what I've decided they do, ha!).

That way, I can re-enter Christian community (which is invaluable) without sitting through discussion time lamenting the "good ol' days."  I can encourage and be encouraged.  I can (hopefully) not have to sit and bite my tongue through entire (though, admittedly rare) poor "interpretations" of scripture.  I can share struggles and concerns with others and not stress over the fact that I'd love to be brushing up on so many things about which the out-dated commentary just misled an entire group of people.

So, any blog post in which I can allude to a line from Friends seems, to me, to be a blog post worth writing; and that is probably the main reason why I wrote this post (Chandler:  You are RUINING moving day for us!); however, I am excited about breaking my cycle of insanity; and I'm hopeful that it will yield results much better than those before.  Namely, encouragement, insight, getting out of my head, and maybe even working more of God's truth into my life in new ways.


  1. Ok, so please go read what I posted tonight. I am cracking up. we should get together soon. :)

  2. as i mentioned on stace's blog, so when are we going to start reliving Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruits of the Spirit glory days?!
    in all honesty, i'd love if we were still able to meet and walk together in this way.
    love you lauren.


What do you think?