This Chair: One Woman’s Journey to Seminary

Megan Westra

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this-chair

this-chair seminary classroom

This chair
To you it may just look like another chair in another classroom
But to me it represents the five-year-old girl who wanted to be a missionary

It represents the ten-year-old girl who planned out summer camps

and programs she could run in her backyard

It represents the teenage girl crying in her journal at night

because she felt like she would never fit,
because she just couldn’t keep quiet

It represents agonized prayers trying to change who I am and how I am gifted,
because “women must be silent”

This chair represents a confused twenty-one-year-old laughing at a God
who she thought both forbid and called her to ministry


It represents steps of faith and deconstruction,

and a faithfulness that held every moment of it all

This is the first chair I sat in in my first quarter of seminary,
and even though I can still barely believe it, I am called by God to minister and serve,
and I DESERVE to sit at this table

——–

I was twenty-one when the call finally broke through.

I could show you the journal page, wrinkled and smeared in a simple composition notebook.

“Ministry? Me? No way, Lord.” 

The word came in the middle of one of the longest summers, on the heels of one of the longest academic years of my life.

I was halfway through college, and had spent my sophomore year diving headlong into my double-major in Biology and Sports Medicine, working myself into the ground trying to prepare myself for my desired career in physical therapy.

By the end of the school year I was angry, confused and exhausted.

I took a job that summer working as a day camp teacher at a nonprofit center in my hometown.

The days at camp were long and stressful, but they forced me to dig deep into the Scripture, and lean heavily on the Holy Spirit for strength – something that my pursuits in the medical field had not done.

One morning, I was finally quiet and still enough to hear the still small voice that been there whispering all along, and for the first time in my life I wrapped words around the call I felt in my heart.

I wrestled, though, and agonized.

I didn’t have any idea what being called to ministry would look like, I had very few role models to look to and I was consumed with doubt that God would actually call me – as a woman – to pastoral ministry.

But I followed.

In retrospect, I took more of a flying leap than just a step of faith, and I took a position on the pastoral staff of a church plant halfway across the country.

For the past six years I’ve served and struggled and wrestled with my call, and finally, this week I walked into a seminary classroom to begin working on my Master of Divinity.

Megan Westra

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4 Comments

  • So I also got a call of sorts at 21, changed my graduate school plans and am also mid-semester for my first year of MDiv. Terrifying but awestriking how God works. If he has called me, in my very complementarian denomination, and you in your life, we have good basis for our work. Prayers for you!

  • May your call deepen and your ministry flourish as you embrace the vocation God ordained for you well before you understood it. Cheering you on!

    To God be the glory!

    From a female seminary graduate 🙂

  • It’s a sad and ironic and beautiful irony that God uses the Scripture teaching and experiences with God in fundamentalist churches as a grounding to call many of us all in –into ministries of which those churches do not approve.

  • Megan, I completely resonate with your story. Thank you for sharing.

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