Master of Divinity Student
If you go to Sundance next year with the Windrider Forum, just remember that God is full of surprises… and you don't know what he will churn up inside.
I went with anticipation. I was concerned that 15 films in 5 days would do me in. But I looked forward to theological reflection with Fuller classmates from all the satellite campuses. And I was excited to meet people randomly along the way - people who had found their calling, were pursuing their craft, and singing their song.
But I didn't expect to meet them on screen. For some reason, the characters who stood out to me were women. Mothers of children in families across a wide variety of films: Ethel, Where Do We Go Now?, Finding North, and Raju. I admired Ethel Kennedy's spunkiness and raising eleven kids with Bobby Kennedy...I was inspired by the collective strength and creative shenanigans of Muslim and Christian women who stopped the violence of their men... I ached for the children who grow up hungry in our country...and I was appalled at the sinister underside of international adoption.
I was inspired by these characters - and also the filmmakers who brought these stories to life, the actors who probably had kids but still found ways of pursuing their dreams. Maybe motherhood wouldn't be this totally life-altering thing that would throw off my entire career trajectory -- to be feared and avoided... but was something women did all the time and, in fact, had done for generations just fine. And maybe it was time for me to start that journey.
So, I came home from Sundance unexpectedly rethinking our timeline for kids. Since my husband and I had planned to wait a few more years for children until after I'd finished my MDiv, found a job, and so forth, I never thought God would use a diverse assortment of movies at Sundance to get my attention. But that he did, unearthing desires and inspiring a different kind of faith.
My Sundance epiphany was that the Spirit of God moves throughout all creation, energizing and provoking us in ways impossible to predict. Jesus is always at work in every single person, whether we recognize that or not, and we can trust that he knows what he's doing. The critical invitation to me was to be attentive and reflective...to have eyes to see and a heart to respond... to notice what he was doing in me and how he was moving. And then, to follow. To follow Jesus where he was going -- and to trust him for what adventures would come.
Tina Teng-Henson is an MDiv candidate at the Menlo Park campus. She is a pastoral intern at Recreate Church in San Jose.