Confessions of an Ex-theologian

There’s always a direction one way or the other…

This past year has been a bit crazy for me. I started my second year as a Theology student. I wrote a very public and personal article for The Bubble about my life as a Missionary Kid. I turned 21. I spent more than £100 on paint and took on so many arty projects for societies that my room perpetually smelled of solvents. I was elected onto my college’s exec. I went to about 25% of my lectures, and, after a month completely stopped going to one of my seminars. I handed in two out of six summative essays. One of them was 1,400 words long out of the 3,000 limit. I did everything but study: I had come to hate studying. I dreamt of running away and taking refuge in some hippy community in Cornwall…

In May, I was diagnosed with depression. I dropped out of my course and out of university weeks before my exams. My exec duties finished by the end of June. I gave away half my clothes and shoes to friends, threw away my measly pile of lecture notes and my extensive collection of empty wine bottles. Rid of those material possessions – rather à la Augustine – I left Durham and returned home to the parental abode (semi-detached house, with a driveway). And there, in my room on the second floor, as I filled in job applications, I spent the summer wondering if I had made the right choice. Was I right to drop Theology?

The answer is yes.

Looking back at the time I wrote my personal statement, in those early days of Year 13, I find myself looking at a stranger: the old me. The me that had a thirst for knowledge and wanted to know more more more. I dealt with my personal problems by cutting myself off from reality and my soul feasted on study. I wanted to find God, and I thought I could do so by studying Christianity, philosophy and religions. However, in reality, I didn’t find the answers to my questions about God in the dusty library books, neither did I find them whilst writing essays on feminist theology nor did I find them in philosophical riddles. Studying the history, doctrines and practices of those who believe in (a) God(s) did not provide me with answers. It was all very interesting, but not inspiring. At least, not for me. Academics, with their fancy words and complex thoughts scared me; their arguments twirled in my head and gave me headaches. I wasn’t studying theology for the right reasons: I wasn’t passionate about it any more. I realised that I did not want to know about God, I wanted to know God. A university course wasn’t going to help me with that. And so, I decided to stop paying to fail my degree, and dropped out.

Earlier this year, I concluded my Missionary Kid article with, “I guess that I’m the student seeking to know who God is, what he has planned for me and what he has planned for the world.” Well, I guess now I am the university drop-out seeking to know who God is, what he has planned for me and what he has planned for the world. I don’t regret the last two years. I know I left university with more questions than I had when I first came but maybe that’s a good thing. I look forward to finding the answers as I venture out in the “big bad world” a year earlier than planned. It might take me a year, maybe ten years, fifty, who knows? I don’t mind, because I know now that a three-year course isn’t the solution for me.

My search for God will be a life-long adventure.

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