Sunday, February 24, 2013

Identity Crisis

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." -2nd Corinthians 5:17

These past few weeks have been the result of an identity crisis. I feel like Jean Valjean in Les Miserables when he is running around singing "Who am I?" The truth is I have been trying to straddle two identities when my body and mind can only handle one. I have been trying to live out my identity as free in Christ but also base my identity around what my professors think. I have been trying to live out of both things on my own instead of just bringing it to God. As a result, I have not been passionate like I was this time last year. I have been miserable when I do my work, which is not me. 

I keep on trying to be a historian in my own strength instead of seeing my calling as something that God wants to use to glorify Himself as well as help me with. He does not want me to go all lone ranger on Him. He is desiring for me to come into His rest and allow Him to work through me. I have been so burdened with this that it has led to fear which has led to procrastination which has led to no progress. 

From this moment on I want to dwell on my identity in Christ. I am not sure how I will do this but I have decided to actively pursue it. This is a step that I do not know how to clearly move and I am praying that you will also pray for me in these things.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fear is the Enemy of Productivity

While it is still the beginning of the semester, I already feel exhausted and burnt out. I have felt on the verge of tears everyday for the past week, between working on my conference paper and trying to keep up with everything and everyone. I wake up every morning, look at my to-do list and instantly feel exhausted. This is a major problem and I have been wrestling with myself to figure out what is wrong with me.

Last semester, I discovered that I was procrastinating on major projects (like my 510 20 page historiography) because I was afraid. I was so afraid that I sucked that I would just put off work until it was absolutely necessary. I am not doing that this semester but the fear that I was fighting last semester is still there, hindering my creativity and productivity.

Why am I so afraid of failure or making a mistake or needing improvement. I seriously cried/slept for half a day because my favorite professor gave me criticism that I just could not understand. My fear has not only made me lazy but has also destroyed my ability to understand what I am supposed to do. This perpetuates this cycle of fear.

But why is failure or making a mistake so frowned upon in our society? I understand that you do not want to make a mistake when it comes to things involving people (like bridges or buildings), but why are the stakes so high? My professors still get criticism and yet it seems like as a graduate student making a mistake is the worst thing. Criticism means that you can still improve and grow. It means that I still have purpose. One of the things that I love about what I do is that it is never done. There are new things to explore and new ways I can grow. I will always be working on my writing; I will never be perfect at writing and someone will always have suggestions as to how it can be better. The day that everyone says, "Oh this is perfect, " is the day I will be truly sad because it means one of two things: 1) I am finished and serve no purpose or 2) The person reviewing did not care enough to actually read it.

I know this in the idea that I am familiar with it (kennen auf Deutsch) but I do not have experiential knowledge (wissen auf Deutsch). I hope that as I try to remember these things that I will stop being so hard on myself. I am in progress and I need to be ok and understanding of this fact.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Life goes on. The past few days have been full of great productivity and incredible happiness. I am extremely blessed.

Then why this sadness? Why this sorrow that seems to shade my days?

I woke up this morning to see that a wonderfully talented woman that I go to school with has been accepted to a PhD program straight out of undergrad. I could not be happy for her. This is ridiculous of me but the tears came to my eyes and I could not hold them back. Even as I type this post, I am still sobbing. Why do I get this way every time someone is more successful than I? Why can I not just rejoice with them and realize that I am ok?

The answer: I have placed all confidence in myself and my accomplishments. I read on my pastor's facebook wall a quote that seems fitting:
 " We fear men so much, because we fear God so little.”
― William Gurnall
It is true. I have put my confidence in myself for so long. I allow my joy to be pushed to the side in favor of sorrow. I do not fight for joy. I give my heart to every other cause except the one that can save.

I need to remember these wonderful truths that were shared on Sunday:

  • My God desires an unprecedented personal relation with me (Joshua 1:9, John 10)
  • My God acts (Exodus 14:14, Hebrews 13:5-6)
  • My God is sovereign (James 4:14-15)