Grad School Year One: Lessons

I apologize for the relative lack of coherence in this post–I took a week-long intensive course this week, and I am le tired. . .but I won’t sleep until I get some thoughts on paper. . .er, blog. So here, for better or worse, are a few of the lessons I’ve been pondering this past year.

1) I can be quite a little turd sometimes. As far as life lessons go, it’s not eloquent, but it gets the job done. You’d think that after 23 years of living with myself, I would have a good grasp of my failings, but I still have the capacity to be completely amazed and horrified whenever I mess up, as though it’s an uncommon occurrence. Then I waste a good deal of time trying to pretend that I didn’t actually sin, or that it wasn’t as bad as it looked, or that, at the very least, I’m not on a reality TV show, so I can’t be all that despicable. . .right? How much time and trouble I could save if I were just willing to own the junk everyone else in my life could easily point out to me, accept grace, and move on!

2) Gratitude is an overlooked key to a “successful” life. I’ve been hit with my complete lack of gratitude a lot this semester, and especially this week, under the tutelage of an unbelievably wise professor, who said something along the lines that ingratitude/entitlement is at the heart of nearly all of our problems in life. He also reminded us, and I quote,

“What sets me up for the most heartache in my spiritual life is when I begin to dictate the terms by which God is to love me.”

Wow. I’ve kind of been marinating my mind in that this week. What a thought.

3) Apparently (according to class, that is) men look for attractiveness and domestic skills when wife shopping. I really hope that “domestic skills” means “the ability to sweep the kitchen floor” as opposed to “the inclination to and action of sweeping the kitchen floor.”

4) Grace, unexpected: I had to do a developmental timeline for this class, documenting each year of my life. It was interesting to process, and I was kind of surprised at the end to find that a key theme running throughout my story was that of voicelessness (I know, I know. . .I was a bit skeptical myself at first). Yet even as I sat there and relived some of the pain of my experiences, I was able to see how God has transformed those experiences into my deep passion for others who are voiceless. God gave me just enough of a taste of pain to awaken my heart for the oppressed, without granting me so much that I was stalled in it. The ability to see the grace and purpose undergirding my pain was unexpected–and what a gift! Many people are not granted the chance to see the purpose behind their pain with such clarity.

5) Change will only occur in my life if I am intentional about making it happen. That means more than “really wanting it to happen,” and it means more than “trying once or twice to make it happen,” and it means more than “having insight into how it can happen.” If I want to have more gratitude, a deeper relationship with God, better friendships, I have to be intentional about making it happen–each day, every day. For someone as anal retentive (sorry, my “holiness translator” isn’t kicking in) as myself, that will usually include a game plan, some means of documentation, reminders around my house and car, etc. I am the person responsible for moving and shaking in my life (is it just me, or is that sentence kind of hilarious?), and if my life is stagnating, it’s my fault.

On that note, I have to stop stagnating on the Hermeneutics homework that is due tomorrow. Few things in life will give you gratitude practice like staying up all night with a mechanical layout.

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