Tuesday, June 12, 2012

the end

One year ago I completed the 2 year co-hort of my masters program and proceeded on to the final year of advanced classes. I took this picture on the day I completed my cohort:
I thought it would be cool to take this same picture on the day I graduated one year later:
Funny how a year can mean so much more than you ever anticipated! For example, I was not expecting to be 8 months pregnant in this picture!

It is always a weird feeling to be at the end of anything. There is the strange emotional mix of excitement, disbelief, fear and even grief. We are very adaptable and resilient creatures of habit. Kevin has been reminding me of how at the beginning of this 3 year journey I was often in a state of tearful stress and would say to him that I didn't think I could do this program. Over time I adapted to the demands of school and now can't hardly imagine life without class and internship. What has become a familiar routine is now over and a new journey is beginning. Interestingly, I find myself with many of the same fears and hesitancies that I felt at the beginning of this previous journey, as well as many others throughout my life as they have started.

One of my favorite chapters in the bible is Isaiah 41. An insert I have read many times says:

I took you from the ends of the earth,
    from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
    I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 

For I am the Lord your God
    who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, "Do not fear;
    I will help you.

That last portion is especially powerful to me- perhaps I have said this here before, but when I read Isaiah 41:13 I am transfixed on the imagery of the God of the universe, who is all powerful and who created everything, looking deep into my eyes with an incomprehensible depth of love for me and with an empathetic gaze gently taking my weak hand into his strong protective hand and saying to me "Do not fear, I will help you." 
Amazing. The God of the universe having an interaction like that with me?? Having that level of love and concern and compassion for me?? How could I then be afraid. And yet- I still am. This season of transition is certainly one which is challenging my faith in asking if I do in fact have faith in my God. Do I really believe he is going to help me? Do I really believe he is in control? Do I really believe he loves me? He has always always always provided all I have ever needed- His grace has always always always been more then enough for me- so why do I fear that this time will be different. 

I feel so much like Peter when he walked on water toward Jesus. When he took his eyes off Jesus and became increasingly aware of the storm around him, as you may know, he began to sink. This summer feels like I am stepping out of the boat in an effort to obediently follow Jesus. When I think about everything surrounding that decision, I feel so overwhelmed with an array of emotions that "sinking" is perhaps the most acute way to describe how I feel. But when I look to Jesus and remember his faithfulness and his love, I feel empowered by his grace and peace to take another step toward him and his direction. 

Someone once told me that a sacrifice is not a sacrifice unless it costs you something. In this step of faith and obedience, it seems as though the cost has never been higher and the sacrifice never more painful. 

Maybe I have been living comfortably and have forgotten what it means to have an active radical faith- one that keeps you out of your comfort zone and daily demands reliance on God. Maybe I have been too focused on what I want and desire, rather than living with my eyes and heart fixed on eternity rather than today. 
I think Satan's most effective tool is distraction. Eternally most of my fears are insignificant- they are only fears of this life and of this world. Perhaps if I were to be afraid my fear should be of complacency and the daily pursuit of comfort.  

So to climb out of the well of deep thought...

 ...here are 2 more pictures from graduation- the first must be included because this journey required so much from my beloved husband (he was as relieved I was done as I was!) and without his support I am sure I would not have reached the end of this. I may never fully appreciate all he suffered through so that I could achieve this degree. And second is my beloved baby girl- she has given us so much joy and excitement over the last several months! I just love my little baby so much :)   

35 weeks!

I don't think this blog is viewed by many- but to anyone who has offered support and encouragement to me through the challenging moments of the last 3 years- thank you. thank you so very much from the bottom of my heart! I do not take for granted your role in helping me finish this race.