Thursday, January 17, 2013

Living the Both/And

Yesterday I flew into San Diego for a big, fancy-schmacy social work research conference where I am giving lectures on the progress of my dissertation research thus far. As I slide into this new role of misfit missionary extraordinaire, I realize how much I stick out like a sore thumb at these researchy events now. I have steered from the tried and true path of academic success to pursue something very, very different, and almost everyone gives me distrusting looks as I gingerly step on their tenured toes. And yet, I also fit in perfectly. I know the lingo, I've conducted the studies, I've published the papers...basically, after 5 years of doing academic jumping jacks, I know my shit.

And so I straddle this very weird line. Science versus Religion. Academia versus Ministry.

When I took this job last year, I wrote a post about the importance of the Both/And as I was trying to wrap my head around this funny place in which I find myself.  As this idea gains traction and matures in my mind, I'm starting to ask two questions: 
  1. How best do these two worlds of mine collide? 
  2. To what end?  
I think the obvious answer to question two is: the glory of God. And this is always the answer to the question twos of our lives - the questions of why. The answer is so that we can be light. And shine, shine, shine.

The answer to the first question is sticky. The how. First things first, when two things are new to each other, there should be introductions.  ...social science, meet United Methodism.....rigorous research, meet unbridled worship.....informative lecture, meet passionate song.....head, meet heart......truth, meet spirit....  
I think this is a good place to start.  Let's first get familiar with one another, shall we?

I know there's a lot of ground to cover as these two worlds begin to melt together, but I can see the makings of a beautiful friendship.  May this place of fusion be the fertile ground out of which this ministry grows.

6 comments:

  1. Awesome, stuff, Sar. You've fought hard to straddle these worlds well! X

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  2. If anyone can make both work, it's you. We got your back. J&E

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  3. Both and...science & religion, academia & ministry. A friend of mine in academia keeps saying, "after...I'll go to India and work with the poor...or after...I'll go to Costa Rica and work in a clinic." But 'after' never comes, simply more papers come. You are melding the two worlds beautifully Sarah. Your life has meaning and because of that so many others' lives are changed forever that you cannot even count them up. And Sarah, that is a gift not everyone gives. Prayerfully, C

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