Reflection made difficult by Refraction

One of my lab teachers was on the way out of the lab last week and said, “Oh my, the semesters already almost over!!”


When I am more conservative, I say it feels like it’s taken from 1 1/2 to 2 times as much time as it really has. . .the last year and a half feeling like anywhere from two to three years. In my non-conservative moments, I would say it’s been about 6 years.

Two years ago–and yet, it feels like yesterday–I couldn’t see myself where I am now. I couldn’t see how to be anywhere different. But now–for all of my internal resolutions to live in the moment and let tomorrow worry about itself–my most consuming thought is when this will be over. Done. And I know when that will be–a year from now. So short, so long, so much that can be crammed into that amount of time.

There is this certain, undefinable feeling. . .sometimes I try to find words for it. Like when we renovated. . .and your whole life gets torn apart right to it’s very roots, and must be rebuilt anew. In some ways, it is all-consuming, from waking to sleeping. . .but in some ways, it is liberating. Habits and routines and assumptions that you never quite realized you had are also demolished. The realization that they are missing leads to a closer inspection of what they should be.

A part of this undefinable feeling is the break-neck speed. There is no time for reflection, for absorption, for disputing, protesting, getting caught up in the tiny details. You have to go, go, go. There is no choice or option. You have to. This is unsustainable, but at the same time. . .if you can see past the fear, there is an almost exhilarating peace. When control is so thoroughly ripped from you hands–or rather, any illusion or pretense of control–you can find out who really is in control, and it can be breath-taking. When you can’t control, you have to trust. It feels sort of like the dreams I’ve had about flying or swimming; it’s like flying free and un-bound. . .but the only thing you’re free of is yourself. How hard it is to see the extent of the ways we bind ourselves.

I don’t want to keep up this break-neck speed; it wears me out, it breaks me down, it grinds me up. But I wish that I could hang on to that ability to see beyond myself, to be broken from my own bonds. I know I am being stretched and shaped and rebuilt, which is drastic enough that it’s no wonder I feel worn out. But part of me is afraid that, because there isn’t time to absorb it. . .I will loose it all, it will all be fleeting in the end. And I don’t want that. I’m trying to sort through it all as fast as I can and pull out the important parts, the parts I need to hold on to. But there is so much we only understand in hindsight that it’s hard not to feel that by the time I find out which is which, it will be late to hold on to it.

Change, change, change. I resist it, but I need it and I know it. Our entire life down here is supposed to be a life changing and being shaped. Why is it we’re so afraid of change, when in truth we should be more afraid of not changing? There is no benefit to staying who we are. But the thing is, if we decide we like change, we try to be in control of it. . .we go right back to our stupid petty assumptions about what needs changing and how it should be changed. I just wish that I could learn to not be afraid of change, stop trying to fight change.

It’s always so hard to figure out where the line is between being that flexible person that rolls with the punches, that bends rather than breaks, that accepts rather than flinging oneself into denial. . .and being that person that changes their principles for the ease of the moment, refuses to fight or put effort into anything, gives up at the first sign of a struggle. Where is the line between the person who is comfortable in their own self, recognizing that who they are is not to be governed by others’ ideas and the person who refuses to consider others or exam themselves? How do we reconcile doing everything with all our heart and soul and strength and mind with recognizing that this world is both fallen and fleeting? How do we balance minding the 2×4 in our own eye with helping those in their times of weakness and lack? How do we recognize where we should be going as opposed to where we want to be going? How do we cultivate letting go and hanging on at the same time?

Sometimes I think that the fact that we are finite creatures fuels our impatience. We want to know everything NOW, because we can feel that the time we are bound by is running out. It’s hard to remember that Time is just His tool, that it is all marvelously choreographed. That He has good reasons for why He didn’t speak before, and that, indeed, He still has many more things to say to us that we cannot bear right now.

If there is one thing that amazes me over and over again about the last year and a half, it would have to be the gentleness of God. I was so scared that everything would be too quick, too fast, too much change all at once for me to deal with. That the only answer would be, “Too bad; this is life. Learn to deal like everyone else.” I did not expect that He would see and know and care, to carefully tease me out like the little seedling I am. And it seems like every time I’ve almost forgotten that, He sends a little something along to remind me–like out of the blue letting me meet my Clinical Instructor ahead of time. It makes me want to saw, “Aw, You didn’t have to do that!” And He didn’t, but He knows me, and sent me gift, just because.

It gives me hope for the future, because it reminds me that He wasn’t kidding when He said He’d not allow us more than we could bear. That He doesn’t just send us out into the world and tell us to “deal with it” until we are inevitably destroyed by our own weakness, but that He is there with us, and that, as futile as this world is, He has a purpose and meaning in it all, in every little thing.

I still am kinda scared of what the future will bring, but part of me. . .part of me is kind of excited to see what He has up His sleeve. Because if there is one thing that is sure, it is that I cannot, even in my wildest imaginations, guess what it will be. But He will use it to build me, not break me. And He will be with me, and He will answer prayers I forgot I prayed, as He has already.

And my prayer today is that He would use me as a vessel of His love and mercy and tenderness and healing, and to pour me out on many. . .and if you see that prayer being answered in me in a year or six or twenty. . .just remember that God is good and send Him a thank you on my behalf for being with me still.

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