By: Carly Trask-Kuchta, originally posted in the September issue of the Southeast Region Monthly Newsletter “The Bridge.”
I’ve lived a privileged life of callings. In middle school, I learned what it meant to be a counselor, and being a young woman raised in the church, I took this as a sign and began voraciously and zealously pursuing a higher education in psychology, starting with a Christian college. A mentor of mine pointed me toward Houghton College, and after my first campus visit, I fell in love, and once my Houghton acceptance letter came in the mail my mind was set; God wanted me at Houghton, and I was going.
I was ready to leave home. I was ready to see the world (the world being upstate New York Amish-country, but, hey, this is wildly different than southeastern Connecticut!). I had big ideas, and an advocacy-heart, and I was ready to change the world (remember when I said I wanted to see the world, and then I was ready to change it? welcome, naïveté). My first year in college threw me. All of a sudden I was required to think for myself; it wasn’t until I reached higher education, with all its reflection papers and theological discourse, that I was thrust into a world of opinions and theory. I was losing myself and finding myself: in God, in my relationships with others, and in my classes. Rapidly, God was becoming more real, and not just in a romanticized way of callings and martyrdom, but in a way that challenged, pushed, and shaped me into a woman of Christ.
Fast-forward to me being led to Fuller Theological Seminary to pursue my doctorate in psychology. This was a God-led move; I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew God wanted me at this school. I’m still not completely certain as to why, because it was at this seminary that my faith went dark. I don’t view it as a coincidence that I learned about St. John’s “Dark Night of the Soul” in my first weekend at seminary, because this became the theme of graduate school. I questioned God’s intentions of putting me through this rigorous program, a journey that had many falls and disappointments that consistently shook my purpose, and me. It was then that I began to question God’s existence in totality. Being a therapist is dramatically challenging, and I took my work and learning seriously, so seriously, that I became enveloped in the richness of narrative.
It was here that I found light. I knew as a middle schooler that I wanted to be a counselor, but I didn’t know what that meant. When I went to undergraduate college, I became an opinionated feminist who liked to argue and wanted to save victims of human trafficking, the worst kind of sin I knew at that time. Going to graduate school made me question everything I knew about life, the world, and God. But it was here that I found God inside the eyes of my clients. This was minute; it was microscopic, and it was focused. My version of God prior to graduate school was, in tandem, far too small, and subsequently limited; and far too big, and therefore abstractly incomprehensible. I discovered God in the imperfect Other of my sin-filled, impossibly resilient, and richly complex clientele. It was here that God became real again: majestic, powerful, glorious, and unconditional. It was here that I discovered my tangible calling: to follow God purely, to love mercy, and to walk alongside the defeated; just as God does with me.