Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Runnin' with the big dogs

I just finished my second test in phd school. I didn’t think I was worried about it but I found I was unable to eat supper before I left. I suspect my stomach betrayed me. I have trouble getting past the idea that I have to do really well on these tests. I don’t mean staying-in-the-program well; I mean impress-other-people-with-my-brilliance well. I want to prove to myself that I am good enough to run with the big dogs. (Especially because all of those big dogs are so much younger and faster than me.) Somehow I doubt that my “brilliance” is the reason why God put me here. I mean, if I haven’t been especially brilliant up to this point I doubt He would suddenly grant me 40 more IQ points. I think I better learn to settle with runnin’ behind the big dogs. As long as I don’t lose sight of them, I should be okay.

As I left Teacher Hall and walked across campus to my car, I was overcome by a feeling of contentment. This was not a feeling related to my performance on the test. I changed my answers on that baby more times than a politician between town hall sessions. I found concentrating particularly challenging because the class next door was laughing at a movie that involved loud screaming. What kind of class is that? It certainly isn’t a stats class, but, whatever it is I am signing up for it for next semester. I bet it is abnormal psychology.

The feeling of contentment was directly related to my conviction that I am where I am supposed to be. As implausible as a nearly 50 year old woman embarking on a long degree program that is unlikely to result in a career is, I am content to be here.

It is not a contentment born of the feeling that everything is going my way. That is a flimsy contentment that is destined to fade into grief and stress. This contentment is more solid than that. God has His plan and He guides me down this interesting and challenging path. This kind of contentment is a blessing. It’s a trust thing that assures me troubles will be survived, and plans will unfold, regardless of my own incapability.

It is even better than the contentment that comes from walking out of the student union with a dark chocolate snickers bar clutched in your pocketed hand. Hard work needs its reward; if not in a good grade than in calories. Hey, dark chocolate is practically a cure for cancer and a guarantee of world peace. At least that is what the current research says and I intend to accept, practice and cite that research until my journey on this planet is done.

Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him - for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work - this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.

Ecclesiastes 5:1

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