I think I might be having an early life crisis. I’m in grad school but wondering if I’m just here to avoid doing something better with my life. I had some choices to do hard things after college and I chose grad school instead—which isn’t easy by any means, but I fear may have been the safe choice. I have a propensity toward laziness and I’m afraid of it taking over my life. There are mornings I really don’t even want to get out of bed—literally. Before you say “prayer is the answer,” you should know I’ve tried that and it has helped. Basically, it’s led me to a realization of some of my character flaws. But now what?
Languid in Lancaster
After the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua, son of Nun, Moses’ aide: Moses is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—the Israelites. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you or forsake you.
Joshua 1:1-2, 5
If you’re reading this, it means you’re awake – which is a great start! Gabby suspects that unless you’re paying your way through school with a rush- hour rickshaw business, your exhaustive need to rest probably comes from a lack of joy and enthusiasm for what you are doing. End result: depression. Now Gabby isn’t saying you’re walking around with a black cloud over your head, but it is known that excessive fatigue and sleep can be good indicators of some level of depression.
So then… why so blue? Well, Gabby suspects that all those qualifiers you use to describe your status like “may have been a safe choice,” or “wondering if I’m here to avoid something else,” sound pretty much like you know the answers already. The real problem isn’t the “did I sell out?” in your scenario, but the “now what?” of your epiphany. Gabby would love to know what the hard things were that you turned down for grad school. We are such a purpose-driven species. And a life without a purpose to challenge us can look pretty dull – a stay-in-bed-and-pull-the-covers-over-my-head kind of dull. Gabby is pretty sure that your biggest problem is that you are a creature that needs and wants to make a difference and you’re fearful that the path you’re on may be too self-serving. If that’s the case, then don’t let it be!
Are you familiar with the context of the scripture above? Moses, all-time biggest hero of Israel dies, leaving his sidekick Joshua in charge. Joshua has been proved himself on the battlefield, but it seems to me that he must actually be a real fraidy-cat. Why else would God have to say to him as many times as He did in the first chapter of Joshua: “Don’t be afraid!” It was no small task he had before him though. Moses left some gargantuan shoes to fill – and not only that – Joshua’s job was to lead the nation of Israel to the Promised Land, which meant war. So, yea, I guess even a really brave person would have reason to fear in that circumstance.
However, whether it’s taking possession of the Promised Land or taking the bull by the horns in the 21st century, we fear great possibilities when we leave God out of our decisions.
Permit me one more parallel with the Promised Land thing: Remember when the Israelites had the chance to possess the Promised Land but they were too chicken to do it? Moses had sent in 12 men to spy the lay of the land. All but two came back with their tails between their legs, whining about how big the people were. God’s response to their cowardice was to send them wandering in the desert for 40 years before He would give them another chance to possess the land. Hard question: Is it possible that grad school is your “time in the desert”?
Don’t despair, even if you conclude it is. God provides manna from heaven for people in the desert. Perhaps this time is meant to better prepare you to do those “hard things” later, once you’ve finished grad school. Maybe it’s a time to do some emotional growing? Your praying has brought you some priceless insights. Most people never slow down long enough to even consider they have character flaws, let alone ponder how to surmount them! I know, you don’t think I need to say “pray!” But how about “keep praying.” It’s essential in your quest to know how to move forward.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” So Languid, throw back those covers, swing your feet out and, yes… pray! And continue praying with every step. God will not forsake you! Work hard on that degree and finish what you started. Even time in the desert has a purpose. Just stay plugged in to the source of manna with every shuffling step…