January 25, 2016

T-Minus Two Weeks and...Panic!

I think it started yesterday. I woke up feeling this rush of anxiety as it surged over my entire body. My stomach churned, and I started to have that "anxious" feeling well up inside of me. I did my best to just ignore it, but by late last night, my stress level had gone through the roof. Intestinal issues followed, and by midnight, I was in a full-blown panic attack. ACK!

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

This morning, I am still feeling that same panic. The good news is that the intensity is easing, but there is still that "feeling" of uncertainty. I am starting to feel the press toward the end, the final approach of my impending exams, and well, I am beginning to worry (just a little bit). I think that today, my goal is to remain calm. I think that today, my plan is to let go of the worry and the stress and just let this pass. I think that today, my trust needs to be returned to center, placed once again right where it belongs -- in the marvelous and matchless ability of my loving Lord and Savior. Yes, my hope, my trust, and my rest all belong to Him this good, good day.

Realizing the Truth of the Situation

The past couple nights, I have slept fitfully. My nights have been filled with dreams, scenarios that all exhibit the same thing -- a loss of control. Either I am trying to escape some on-coming trial or doom or I am trying to get home (back to safety). I have been spending my nights running, hence the reason why I am so tired in the mornings. All this running, panic and escaping has made it difficult to be at rest.

I know that my due date is soon. You know, I see the calendar as the days are marked off. I cannot believe that it has been 14 weeks since I first started my study group. It has been 12 weeks since I started prepping. It has been 8 weeks since I started reviewing, and that it has been 6 weeks since I really began the "final countdown." Now, I have two weeks left to go, and frankly, I am feeling good about my progress. I have covered a lot of ground, taken time to review content deeply. I am still not 100% ready with details, but I am getting closer and closer to that point where I can say, "Okay, I am ready. Let's do this thing!"

The Lord has graciously provided a way for me to study. My way is different from my colleagues, but nonetheless, it has been serious and devoted to the task at hand. Some nights, I chose to rest instead of studying, but I think in all, I have applied myself well over the course of the past 16 weeks. Now, it is down to the finish line, and I am starting to panic a bit. I wonder, "Did I do enough? Did I study the right materials, the right books, the right way?" I cannot second-guess myself now, it is too late for second-guessing. I must simply push on, and push my way through these feelings of doubt and of insecurity. One thing that I am doing today -- right now, in fact -- is to recognize that the doubts and insecurities are real, and that they are for the most part, true. I mean, I do doubt my abilities. I do doubt my progress. I do doubt my memory. This is all truth. However, when I started this process, this whole program to prepare for and pass my qualification exams, I knew that there was no way I could do it on my own. There was NO WAY I could remember enough to pass a comprehensive exam. I knew it then, and I know it now. I knew that no matter how much I could retain, I simply couldn't factor in every possible question that my professors would think to ask me. There is no way I could have that much knowledge, to function with that much coolness to be able to handle what they "may or may not" throw at me. Thus, I let it go. I realized that I know a fraction, and it is a tiny fraction, of the history, theology, research methods, and theory of communication. My professors have over 100 years of knowledge between themselves (most have been teaching communication and publishing communication for 20 or more years). Therefore, as a new scholar to communication, I know a little bit about the field. I do my best to handle myself well, but frankly, I simply cannot compete with these seasoned professionals. 

Simply acknowledging my frailties is the starting point for humbly understanding my position in all of this. I am in a place of learning. I am in a place of learning more and more as the days pass by, and I am thankful for what I have learned thus far. I will never learn as much as my professors nor will I publish as much scholarship. Not now. Not at this point in my life. But I can learn more and that is my hope and my prayer. I hope to learn practical theory, the kind that has practical and applied outcomes because I want to help people, especially the church, learn how to communicate better -- among themselves and the world.  This is my ministry. This is my calling. So while I may not remember all the details, all the names of theorists or even the theories themselves, I know something of the field. I know something of the way it works. I am thankful and grateful for the knowledge that I have, for the courses I have been privileged to take, and for the learning that has enriched my life. I pray it continues on, and I pray that I never stop learning good practical theory that can be used by God for His praise, His honor, and His glory. He is good, so very good to me! Selah!

Today, I sit here and I think about all that has passed by me. I think about where I am on this road called life, and I think about where I am going. I felt so confident just a week ago. I felt so assured that I knew what God wanted me to do, where He was sending me, and how I was to get there. But today, I am confused again, feeling daunted, and wondering if I will ever really KNOW His will for my life. I pray that I continue to receive clarity, that I can do good practical work, and that I can come to know and to understand what He desires for my life. Yes, Lord, may it be so. Until then, I think to myself -- I must press on. I must press on, and I must continue down this path, even though I don't know where I am going, even though I cannot see that far down the road. He is good. He knows the way. He is leading me on this path for His name and His praise. Selah!

It has been a difficult journey, thus far, and while I am apprehensive of the outcome (sure of it, but still feeling a bit uncertain), I know that He will never leave me. He has promised me so. I can trust in His nature and His character, and in His abilities to do what He has said. He will keep His word. He will do what He has promised. He is reliable. He is good. He is sure. He is able. I know this. I know this. I know this.

Today, I am deciding to let the fear subside. I cannot allow it to control my thoughts, to manage my stress level like this. No, I must let it go. I must look up, I must wait, and I must abide in Him. He is the Vine, and I am only the branch. He is good, so very good to me.

Remember to look up is key. I must look up and I must wait on Him to provide for me. I am thankful this good day. I received confirmation that my scholarship will finally be applied to my tuition, so hopefully this means, I will receive another refund from Regent University. I need these funds to survive through the summer, and I need to take care of last year's extra expense (flying to VA). I have another trip for February, and well, that expense must be paid for some way. I am thankful to Regent University for their gracious provision of a scholarship to help me with aid. I am thankful to God for clearing the way for me to fly there without a passport (AZ received an extension on the REAL ID Act so I can still use my driver's license until 2018). I am so grateful to the way the Lord has provided for me along the way. Each need has been covered. He says to me, "I have you well-covered," and while I believe Him, I still question "How so?" I don't always see the covering, yet I know it is there. I don't always see the answer, yet I know He has one for me. I don't always see the way, but I do not doubt that it exists. I believe it does, and I use and exercise my faith as a measure to ensure that I continue to rely on Him and not on my own hands, my own way, or my own intelligence. He is everything, and I am nothing (in comparison). I am limited and fragile, and He is omnipotent and all-powerful. He is everything, and in and through Him, there is no end, no beginning. Just a lot of middle -- that spans time and space -- and is eternal. I love the Lord, and I rest my case this good, good day. He is good, and He has me so well-covered.

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