It has been a long summer.
It was named the summer of research. It began with interviews and painstaking transcriptions. It continued with coding words and phrases, sorting information, re-coding, thinking, theorizing and now writing. It is the game called "Dissertation or Quit."
The summer has been interrupted by my dear mother-in-law’s passing and by a belated memorial service for my mother’s sister. My sister and I have spent much time helping my mother after she broke her leg. Helping with wheelchairs and transportation, finances and health decisions, doctor appointments, apartment cleaning, laundry, late night calls from Lifeline, and the slow but certain revelation that she needs to move to another level of care.
Through all of this I continue to carve out time to write and rewrite and edit and write some more.
Today was a day of discouragement.
My typing is bad. My arm never quite healed and numb fingers cannot find the keys like they used to. My brain is tired. The computer is playing tricks on me that require searching for solutions that don't seem to help. One technical problem after another until finally everything froze.
Now, in an oddly fitting end to the day, I find I cannot sleep.
During the day, problems make me frustrated, tired, angry, discouraged. At night, those same problems turn into doubts, worries, and fears.
This dissertation project is too big.
I am not smart enough.
I will be found out.
I have too many interruptions. I can’t get it done. I will never graduate.
I will fail.
I imagine my dissertation defense as a strange episode of Penn and Teller: Fool Us where I spend an hour trying to fool my committee into believing that I am smart and if I successfully fool them I win I Ph.D.
I am not fooling anyone.
I will lose.
Once again, it is time to stop playing this game - the fake it 'til you make it - game.
This graduate school adventure game is not mine to win. On a good day, I feel as if I am treading water. On a bad day, a day like today, I feel like I am drowning.
But it is not my game to win.
I cannot fake anything. I am weak. I am poor of spirit. I am helpless.
I am God's precious child. This game - if it is to be won - will be won by God.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith -
Tonight I pray for God's wisdom, for God's strength, for God's mercy. Only His will can accomplish what my failing, faking efforts cannot do.
- that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Tonight God reminds me that He has the plan and the wherewithal to accomplish His will. He reminds me of His complete and perfect love. He fills me with His peace. He is far more abundant than any problem I could worry over.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according tot he power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen Ephesians 3:14-21, ESV