Hello dear readers. It feels like so long since I’ve had the chance to sit down and read for pleasure or write simply because I have so many thoughts, rather than for an assignment. Finally, though, there are a mere two weeks left in my semester. All of my research papers have been submitted, all presentations given, and only a handful of assignments remain before finals. At last, I can sit at my computer and just say what is on my mind instead of pushing it aside in order to concentrate on whichever paper is due next.
While it feels like I have done nothing but read and type in the past few months, none of the books I was assigned were ones that I would have chosen for myself. Because of this I have learned more than I imagined possible, but to be honest I am tired of writing about books I did not choose to read. So, this post will not be about the most recent book I read or one that I am looking forward to reading. It’s a distinct change of pace from what I usually post, but I thought that today I would share a lesson I learned recently that did not come from a book. I actually wrote most of this on Friday, between classes and meetings and general end-of-semester craziness, so if it’s not always coherent, I’m sorry but I think it’s more honest than if I had gone back and thoroughly edited it.
How long does it take to learn a lesson?
How many times in one week and even one day can I be delivered from moments of desperation? How many times can I cry out that I can’t take any more, and then realize that I don’t have to because God is taking it all right along with me? How many times will God show up exactly when I need Him most?
Infinitely many. There is no limit to God’s aid and comfort. As many times as I fall, God will pick me up.
I have two research papers due today, and if you know me, you know that I enjoy writing papers but also will always stress over them to the last minute. Last night I stayed up till 2 writing and editing, and I felt good about both. Neither was perfect, but they said what I wanted to say and I believed they said it well. So I went to bed content, and not even as exhausted as I had expected. This morning I got up and logged into my class online to turn them in, and this is where things started to go wrong. I submitted one with no problems…until I realized about half an hour later that what I had submitted was NOT the final version of the paper, but an intermediary version that still had notes, highlighting, and unfinished sentences. There is no way to take back an essay once it has been submitted online, so I had to do the figurative walk of shame and email the professor explaining what I had done. Thankfully, he was gracious and allowed me to submit the actual final version of my paper with no penalties. Thinking that I had learned my lesson, I read over the other paper one more time to make sure the document I was about to submit was the right one. On a whim I even pulled out my syllabus and reread the requirements for the essay, even though I was certain I had met them all. That assumption was wrong. I did not have nearly enough secondary sources. However, my first class of the day was quickly approaching, and I still had yet to get ready at all. So, promising myself that I would fix this after my first class, I threw on the first clean clothes I saw and headed to my least favorite class.
Walking to class, I could feel anxiety’s fingers trying to close around my throat. My thoughts were racing in circles around the assignments I had messed up and the fact that I did not even know if I had homework due in the very class I was on my way to. And then, it started to rain. Not too heavy, just enough to make me look up and realize that I had not taken any note of my surroundings as I sped to class on auto-pilot. In the rain I heard God hushing my vicious thoughts, and reaching His hand down to remind me that the things I was worrying about would work out whether I freaked out over them or not. In that moment God spoke comfort to my heart, reminding me that He is always with me no matter what I do and no matter what happens. I was able to slow down, breathe deeper, and enjoy the overcast morning for a few brief minutes before getting to class.
After that class I returned to my apartment ready to fix my paper. Again, it did not take long to get sucked into the mindset that this was the most important thing I had ever done and it needed to be perfect or else. Frantically searching databases for anything vaguely related to my research, I managed to meet the minimum requirements and submit the paper hours before it was due. Now all I had to do was print the last paper and take both to their respective classes, and I would be set. My printer had other ideas. Six pages into my 17-page paper, the ink starts to fade. The next page was unreadable, and the last five pages were almost completely blank. But I like to think I’m smart, so I go in and change the text color to dark blue and tell it to print again. Turns out, blue-so-dark-it’s-almost-black actually uses black ink, and without it, it prints as very light blue. So that was a useless idea. Also, partway through attempting to print in navy blue, the paper in my printer jams. My sister once sent me a meme saying that printers can smell deadlines, and I think that is definitely a possibility with this one. I still have not managed to clear the paper jam, but I don’t have a black ink cartridge so that wouldn’t really help anything anyways. Hope was not lost yet, however. I emailed the paper to my roommate and desperately asked if she could print it on her printer. She said she would get to it before it is due this afternoon.
Nevertheless, I have other classes I have to go to because this is the last week of full classes before dead week. So, still wearing my running shoes and whatever random shirt and jeans I pulled out this morning, I head to my next class. Like déjà vu, as I am walking to class I cannot seem to help replaying the stress of getting these papers finished and turned in, and I was on the brink of being completely overwhelmed by everything when it suddenly started to rain. I literally laughed as I remembered my moment with God just two hours earlier. This was not a gentle rain like before, however. This was a heavy downpour.
This was God grabbing my shoulders and shaking me, saying “Don’t you see? Don’t you understand that I am in control, and I know exactly how this needs to go?”
I love rain. I am kind of a weather nerd, meaning I’m that weirdo that enjoys being outside while it’s raining. I love the natural cadence of the rain, hearing it swell with each gust of wind and hush as the strength pushes past. I love the tactile feeling of rain pounding on my skin, drawing me out of my thoughts and into my immediate surroundings. I love the rumble of thunder, filling and calming the air. I didn’t see this downpour as an inconvenience or a slap in the face, but a blessing that I needed to recognize.
God is with me when my printer breaks. God is with me if I don’t make a perfect grade. God is with me if I make dumb mistakes, even ones that cost much more than a little embarrassment with a professor or delayed assignment submission. God is still sovereign when everything in life is difficult and threatens to overwhelm me. God is in control and standing beside me loving me no matter how many times I mess up. Apparently I needed to hear that several times today in order to really grasp and internalize it. In the end, all of my papers were turned in on time and done to the best of my ability; but even if the outcome had been anything else, it would have worked out exactly the way it was supposed to. God doesn’t always bring a rainstorm of blessings at exactly the moment we are feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes He lets us struggle for longer than we think we can handle, so that when we turn back to Him and realize that He was standing there beside us all along, we appreciate His presence even more. Regardless of whether we recognize it or not, He will never abandon us, not even in our craziest most stressful seasons.