Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Unexpected Expectations

I melted down last night.

All of last semester, I kept hearing that getting through the first semester was the ticket at Candler - after the first semester, it would seem easy. And yet ... all of I sudden I saw myself at the end of a weekend where I did nothing but work and still had more to do ... and I looked ahead to a semester of this ... and I melted down.

I cried. Bruce tried to hold me and tell me that it was going to be okay, but it was hard for me to let him hold me. Yet once I did, I started to calm down.

I think my experience with Bruce last night mirrors a lot of peoples' experiences with God. He wants to hold us and tell us everything is going to be okay, but so often we don't want to be held. Yet I've often found that when I've allowed myself to be swept up by the Holy Spirit, I do feel a sense of calmness.

This is a very white-middleclass thing for me to say. It's hard to tell someone dying of AIDS in a third world country that everything is going to be okay. But in some sense, Bruce was in the same position that a deity or spiritual leader would be in a third world country. I was crying because school is hard. I was crying because I'm going to have a lot to do. I was crying because I wasn't expecting the high expectations that are being placed on me this semester. I was crying because I've been put outside of my comfort zone and not in a good way. I was crying because I'm in my first year of a three years masters program and that's a long time to spend full-time on a master's program. I was crying because no matter how much I plan, how many goals I have, how many lists I make and how high or low my expectations are, I will never be able to completely satisfy me and the people around me.

And yet - Bruce told me it was going to be okay. And not, I don't think, because he knew for certain that it was going to be okay. Deep down, I think he knows school is going to be hard for me. But I think he wants it to be okay. He wants to erase all of the hurt and anger that I was feeling. And his desire for this was so strong, his compassion was so deep, that I allowed myself to change the lense on my view of the world and believe that it truly would be okay.

I should learn to trust God more. We should all learn to trust God more. We should trust that when we weap, God weaps with us. We should trust that when we hope and dream, God hopes and dreams with us. We should learn to trust that when we fall, God reaches out to try and grab us.

When I allowed Bruce to embrace me and heard the inhales and exhales of my own breath, I was able to see that through the strength of him, the strength of my friends and family and the strength of the Holy Spirit I will make it through another semester.

This is no doubt something I will probably need to be reminded of many times not only throughout the semester, but throughout my entire seminary education and throughout my life as well.

Come, Holy Spirit, Come.

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