Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pardon my introspection (and procrastination).

I  noticed that I hadn't said much about three of the things I had been most panicked over a short time ago: the Greek translation exam, the second-year comprehensive exam, and the provisional dissertation proposal I had to submit for one of my classes.

Part of this is because I have no results to report to you regarding the first two. I successfully took the exams (meaning I typed things and turned them in without throwing a fit, becoming ill, my computer crashing, or my brain drawing an utter blank -- all scenarios I had imagined), but I am still waiting for results from my department. What drama there was was actually not of my own making, this time; and, anyway, it's all past.

As for the last thing, the tentative dissertation topic I presented to my classmates was quite well received. Even my professor said that I have the makings of a "rich and textured" topic. So, the task of this summer will be carving out precisely what my angle is to be. I'm pretty excited really. Let me enjoy that optimism while it lasts!

All that's left of the semester, basically, is the usual end-of-semester batch of papers. I'd looked forward to this as the "easy" bit, and of course, sitting here, it's not. Even with comps done and the end of coursework clearly in sight, it's the same old wrestling with my will and stamina to do what needs doing. I ask myself the same tired questions about what I've done and where I'm going, whether it will all prove to have been worth it.

Grad school is, undeniably, a privileged and flexible time of life in many respects. (How much liberty I have to reflect on these things!--It's a blessing and, at times, a great curse.) It can be so easy to overlook that, and to fail to wrest what joy out of it one can. It's far easier to look at the piles of half-skimmed books and the empty spaces on the CV and feel it more as burden than gift, more unrealized ideal than opportunity seized.

Of course, grad school has been -- or at least in the past few years has become -- just one piece of a much bigger, more hopeful picture, many parts of which remain fuzzy. It isn't the endgame. It helps to remind myself of that -- it helps me to lay hold of each day a little more firmly, knowing that someday I'll look back on these years, even the more tedious and uncertain parts, with fond gratitude.

In the past couple of years, after all, I've become more focused on quiet steadfastness than memorable highs and lows. I'm more convinced that real joy is found in ordinariness and routine and stumbling all over myself trying to learn to love, not so much in the dramatic moments, or in loving every second of my job. (I could be wrong here, or selling myself short. Honestly though, if I can't "feel" in love with the Lord, or my husband, every second of my life, how on earth can I expect to feel that way about my career?) The only trick I know is perseverance. And also believing that the Lord isn't in the business of wasting us. If the goal is our sanctification, not for our sakes alone but ultimately for His, then real joy is not a feeble hope we muster up, but a promise hard-won on our behalf. Would it make sense to say...all of this is not just a prelude to something better (though in a way, it's that), but it's training us to be able to bear such joy? What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I definitely agree with your thoughts on joy... It's not a constant "feeling" of constant happiness, and I would think you were crazy if you loved your job every second. There are always those moments in life when we are hungry, grumpy, doing something tedious, etc... when we do what we're doing but we might not feel in love with it at the moment. I struggle, however, in my life to get through such things with a smile. Then later I regret not being more optimistic. It's definitely God's way of testing us and teaching us. God always uses the difficult things to make us stronger and more like Himself.