It has been raining pretty much all week here in the Land of Pilgrims—not good rain, rain for someone who loves rain like I do, but the October rain that is more of an omnipresent mist that wraps itself around your bones and frosts your coat underneath your umbrella. I’m sitting here at my computer in the grey light of this rain listening to one of my super emo songs from college before heading off to yet another meeting scheduled on what was supposed to be my afternoon off, an afternoon to run all of the errands I haven’t gotten to this week…speaking of which, excuse me while I go write an email I’ve forgotten.
This is my life right now, and I really hope you don’t sympathize—I imagine you do, though, and you are more than welcome to say so. I can’t help much, but I can commiserate, and pray, and those have their own power.
Where have I gone wrong that this fall is so constant? Falls are always difficult for me in terms of time management and stress, but this one is wearing me thin, and it’s just barely midterms. I had a student have a minor breakdown in my class this morning and I knew exactly how she felt. It was so frustrating to be limited in how much I could help her, but also to see that there but for the grace of God…
Perhaps my mistake is that I’m fighting so hard for this. My professional and academic lives are phenomenal, really—my boss for one job wants to feature my work in an upcoming publication (sorry, another email, hang on…); one of my professors pointed out my work as an example for an assignment; I’m holding my own in my tiny Difficulty class and in fact was mistaken for a PhD student by one of my fellows. I’ve even started to speak up in non-class settings engaging topics, concepts, and scholars with a confidence that continually floors me. I am succeeding, of a sort.
At what cost?
I spent the entire train ride to and from Difficulty yesterday working. Not that the scenery wasn’t fascinating as always—but I had reading to do, lectures to write, PowerPoint presentations to make. I was busy, necessarily so. And I have been busy, so much so that I don’t exist as anything else. I read about Amanda Todd on Tuesday and wept for her, wept for the cruelty of being made to live with the evils of others, wept for a pain that cries out until, being unheard, it silences itself. And then I went to work, because I had guidelines to write and a book to finish proofing and more reading to do. My bell choir at church which I was so delighted to finally join is doing one of my favorite hymns this Sunday and I barely hear it when we rehearse, the noise in my mind of assignments, statistics, data, work drowning out the clear tones. I wake up tired nearly every day, my to-do list scurrying through my already haunted dreams. Another person I knew died this week, and I have no time to attend his funeral. My friends gently mention how they never see me and I blithely notice their own struggles that I am missing in my headlong marathon sprint to Christmas.
But I’m succeeding, right? I am making my way, earning my degree, my place, my rank in these societies. Am I not gaining the necessary aspects of my world?
Sometimes, the most frustrating thing about Jesus is that He doesn’t give a damn about my success. My prayer life has been rather strained of late, partly due to my own awareness that I can’t bring Him my A on a first paper when my efforts to earn it have caused me to ignore a friend who’s feeling lost. My presentation feedback means nothing if I have attained it by skipping out on the time to apologize to someone I have slighted. I come to Him with a full list that makes me empty-handed these days—far worse, empty-hearted. I am doing very little in the way of feeding my soul in His glory, and it shows. I recently unearthed a mix CD given me when I graduated high school simply title “The World Is Beautiful.”
I don’t see that anymore. I don’t have the time.
How then do we live? I can’t stop this rushing onslaught of a semester—I must see it through to the end. But I have to start allowing for the places to hear the still, small Voice calling me to observe Sabbath, to remember that the world is beautiful. God Himself rested—whether He needed to or not—and I somehow think myself stronger, better, more resilient?
What arrogance to presume that I do not need rest, do not need music, do not need the moment when the world itself reminds you that it was created to sing the most glorious song of all time in every leaf, raindrop, shouting rock. More the fool I! For what will I have if I succeed in this semester and have nothing left to notice His birth or my own place on this path?
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited , if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:25-26, KJV)