Monday, September 20, 2010

The Next Step

Last week, I started graduate school. I am not even sure what to think as I move into this next phase of life and my academic career. To begin with, we’re still adjusting to life back in the United States. I know some of you are probably like, “geez, it’s been 5 months already (I can’t believe it’s already been that long!), but it’s a blink of an eye considering the adjustment we are trying to make. We lived in what seemed like an entirely different world. We had our hearts broken in ways most can only imagine, if even that. It’s a struggle to adjust, and something that will take time.

Additionally, it’s sometimes difficult to give this season of our lives full attention and presence. In some ways, even this next phase seems like a transition period. People are constantly asking us when we are going “back,” as if our return is a given, even thought that was never part of the plan (although it could be now). Even once we decided to go on the mission field, we thought it would only be for 6 months or so. On the one hand, it is comforting, as people obviously see something in us that would encourage them to think we would be a good fit for serving God in this capacity. It’s humbling and reassuring and a quiet confirmation of where we think God may be leaving us. At the same time, it can be frustrating to deal with people’s somewhat demanding expectations, and makes it difficult to be present and focused on where God has put us right now. I don’t believe God wastes time. He is always teaching us and using us. It is just a new challenge for me to be focusing on here and now, even while knowing what is [possibly] next (you never really know- He may just not have revealed His whole plan about that yet!).

I never expected to attend graduate school. I always wanted to go to medical school, and there are times even now when I question my decision to take another path. Since then, I have decided to go to graduate school, applied to one type of program, decided to go to Africa instead, worked in the field, decide on a different type of program, applied, was offered a great deal of money and prestige in a terrific program, and instead turned them down and decided to accept a different program’s offer, which to the average person would seem significantly less enticing.

Rereading that last sentence, it basically sound like I just can’t make up my mind! As someone who loves order and routine and repetition (not that you’d know it from my life as of late), this constant change in direction has been a bit of a challenge. However, I don’t think it means I am crazy or indecisive or unfocused; rather, I think of it as an example of God’s wisdom. I believe He knew (and knows) precisely where He wants me to be, but He also knew I couldn’t take the change in direction all in one step. I am certain there will be many more similar instances of change and growth in my life, but I find it so comforting to be the child of a gracious God who knows my limits. So many times lately, they have been and are being pushed to their borders. I am so glad to now He is loving an merciful enough to accommodate my weakness with His love and grace, even while helping me to overcome them.


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