I feel like I've been rather detached from the things that I've been posting lately. Poems written months ago, stories of my past, a fictional tale of a girl across the world - all were written with emotion at one point, but right now they (with the exception of my college station posts) hardly reflect the things I have been feeling or doing.
I've had lots of worries and fears lately. I'm excited about Europe and A&M, but I feel anxious because time seems to be going by too fast for my liking. And when it comes to moving to College Station and starting graduate school, there have been so many unknowns that I've been starting to feel fearful. I think it's just natural (I hope) to worry when things are unknown. Will I like the place I'm living? Will I make friends? Will I find a good church? Will I do well in my classes? Will I like my assistantship? Will the professors like me? Will I have time for myself, or will I constantly be busy? Will I be able to keep up with my friends and family here? Will I get lonely? Because to be honest, I sometimes already find myself feeling lonely. That's probably one of my biggest fears. Being lonely in a new place. Wishing I was somewhere else, with other people, not being able to connect with the new place and people. Not feeling at home. I also fear getting in over my head, the doctoral program being too hard, and me getting burnt out. I pray and I try to trust, but the worry is still there.
Still, the unknowns are starting to slowly become known and God is starting to spare a few dollops of peace. I have decided to live in C's house, at least for the first year. I have my reservations, but I'm starting to get more excited about it. It's likely it'll just be the two of us, which means I'll have a big bathroom to myself, we have a two car garage, and she invited me over to her house for dinner. I imagine that her parents wanted to meet the girl who will be living in the home they just bought, but nonetheless, I take an invitation to someone's home as a very welcoming gesture. We had a good time tonight, her parents are really nice, and I stayed over there for three hours, drinking coffee, discussing decorating (we like the same colors!), who's going to bring what, playing with her golden retriever puppy who will be living with us, and looking at the floorplan. I had told her before about wanting to adopt a cat and she said that it'd be fine, but her dad told me about one caveat - he's allergic to cats but long-haired cats like Maine Coons actually don't bother him that much and he'd like to be able to visit his daughter without feeling miserable. Something about the dandruff that people are allergic to is worse on short-haired cats than long-haired ones (for him at least). I haven't started looking at cats right now, and he could have said, "Do you absolutely have to get a cat?" but instead he said, "Could you try to find a long-haired cat?" which I think is doable. The idea of a big cuddly Maine Coon type cat sounds really wonderful :) As I type that, my precious Russian Blue is rubbing his head under my foot, asking for attention. I wish I could take him, but he is now my mom's cat and she won't part with him. That's ok, I'm sure there is another wonderful cat out there who needs a home and hopefully Rouble will understand and forgive me :)
Ok, I went off on an unexpected cat tangent. Another unknown that has been made known is my graduate assistantship assignment. I've been assigned to assist with the test library in the on campus Counseling and Assessment Center. It doesn't sound terribly exciting, but I think it is an answer to prayers and will be something that I'll enjoy. As much as I'd like a position that I can learn from, I worried about finding myself in an extremely challenging and tiring position, and I regretted that my current job might be the last one that I'm overqualified for. Thinking about it a couple of weeks ago, I remember hoping that I'd find something working with people, since good customer service is my greatest strength in my current job. Reading my supervisor's description of my duties, it sounds like this position has the qualities that I desire -
"The job has several functions. First, you should check out, maintain, and secure psychological tests that are required by our training programs. Students will come to you to check out the tests during your posted hours in the clinic. Second,
you are to inventory the tests and order any tests that we need to order. Finally, the last function is to serve as a receptionist for the CAC-Heaton if clients are being seen. (This duty requires greeting clients, letting the graduate student know they are there, and collecting payment for their testing when they leave.)"
It doesn't sound mentally or physically exhausting (knock on wood), I should be interacting with a variety of people, and I might even learn a thing or two about psychological testing which I could use in the future :)
God is using the external to bring me more peace, and he's also using the internal.
I've been reading Gilead, a wonderful Pulitzer Prize winning novel written as a memoir of a small town preacher diagnosed with a terminal illness, trying to tell his family history to his young son, and reflecting on his impending death and current personal dilemmas. Listening to this book, I've been impressed with this fictional character's knowledge of scripture, and I realized that it's probably been over a year since I've attempted to memorize any scripture. I've chosen Luke's Sermon on the Plain to try to memorize.
I've also been reading Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline, a great book with a chapter devoted to twelve Christian practices that should cultivate spiritual depth - Meditation, Prayer, Fasting, Simplicity, Service, Confession, Worship, etc. I wasn't sure if I should just read it straight through and then select a discipline here and there to further develop or read it slowly and attempt to incorporate what I'm reading into my daily life, but halfway through the first chapter, I'm realizing that this will be a slow read. Which is ok, I want time to put things into practice and really soak in what I'm learning. So now, in addition to just memorizing the Sermon on the Plain, I'm trying to meditate on it to better receive the gift of my Savior's words. The other night, I let my imagination run, and imagined Christ speaking those words to me and his other disciples, picturing his facial expression - a big smile, but with compassionate and understanding eyes that speak to us, "I know what you're going to go through because of me, but someday you'll see that this suffering is a blessing."
"20Looking at his disciples, he said:
"Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22Blessed are you when men hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man."
I imagined experiencing each of those emotions as best I could. I don't really know what it is to be poor, but I know hunger, satisfaction, weeping, laugher, and being hated. And I knew - not just head knowledge, but really knew deep inside - that the Son of Man knows all those feelings too and cares about what we experience. And just for that "knowledge," I feel blessed.