Thursday, May 5, 2011

Rejection, Acceptance, and the Whirlwind

As a Ph.D. graduate, I am not used to rejection, at least not in the academic world.  I was accepted at both undergraduate institutions to which I applied.  The same went for both Seminaries and the one Ph.D. program.  I have always excelled academically, have always been accepted heartily.  I had some hiccups with my dissertation, but it was accepted eventually.  I even got an acceptance for publication on my dissertation at the first publication house I submitted to.  So, I was not good at rejection.

Yet, the last 2 years have been a hard lesson in rejection.  At latest count, I have been rejected by somewhere between 45-50 schools in my search for a professorship, lectureship, visiting lectureship, etc.  I have had phone interviews, video interviews, and campus interviews, but still, rejections came flooding in.  They are always kind and cordial: "we had over 150 well qualified applicants and we are sorry to inform you..." "We assure you that you were a wonderful candidate, but..."

Life was getting tough, the prospect of the future of my career was fading.  I was contemplating other options: should I go into the pastorate, should I try to teach religion at private prep schools?  Should I change careers altogether.

Yet, with all of these rejections, it just takes one acceptance, and I am so pleased that I have been offered a position of Assistant Professor of New Testament and Theology at Chowan University starting this Fall, and I must say, that I am now thankful for all of the previous rejections.  Chowan is such a great fit for me and my wife.  I absolutely love it.  It is a small Christian school with a Baptist heritage.  It is in a small, quiet, and picturesque town.  The people are wonderful, the students are too, and I can't wait to start.  Herein lies the problem, the Chowan offer has set off a whirlwind in my life.

Actually, the whirlwind really began with their call for a video interview.  Three weeks ago, my life was quiet.  I was cruising to the end of the semester, preparing for Summer and perhaps a career adjustment.  Then came the call from Chowan, and since then things have progressed at breakneck speed. 

The video interview happened on a Saturday just over 2 weeks ago.  It was filled with technical difficulties and time was cut short. I questioned whether I really got to represent myself.  The following Tuesday I was invited for a campus interview with the caveat that I had to fly out on Easter Sunday.  An Easter flight, followed by an all day Monday interview and an all day travel back to Texas on Monday went by in a flash. 

I arrived home Monday to a house that had been broken into (bring on Murfreesboro, North Carolina with its low crime rate) and a literal whirlwind as my wife and I huddled in the guest room closet for protection from the tornado that touched down right outside of Waco that Monday night.  That week was furiously busy with work, and on Friday I received a call and an offer to come work for Chowan.  Ahhh, what a relief, what a blessing, what excitement.  I accepted the position that evening, and, as if the pace of life could have increased, now I have an even bigger whirlwind: figuring out how to pack, sell a house, move, prepare courses, transition out of life in Waco and into life in North Carolina.  It all seems overwhelming, but in that deliciously overwhelming sort of way.  I am stressed, but it is that good stress, the stress brought on by excitement.  Life is wonderful.  Now, off to packing for a trip to the Rio Grande Valley for Mother's Day.