one step at a time

[via my iPhone]
I've been wanting to post about everything I'm going through for a couple of days, but I just haven't had the energy or even the time. The next three weeks of my life are going to be hard, and the last couple of weeks have been hard, too. Not bad hard; just busy, demanding hard. 

I'm in grad school, and the class I'm currently taking, Global Perspectives in Biology (one of those random classes that's required for a liberal arts degree to make sure you're "well-rounded"), is probably the most difficult class I've ever taken, save Christianity in Europe at Georgia Southern (Hi Dr. Comerford!). Every week, I have an assignment due that not only requires a ton of reading (which is expected, of course) but a ton of writing as well. The scientific kind. Not the analysis kind or the interpretive kind at which I am well-versed (my undergrad is in Creative Writing, after all). I've received such low grades in this class so far over what, to me, seem like small errors (such as using the statement "Contrary to popular belief" on a paper, which resulted in my professor docking four points out of twenty because I hadn't cited sources to actually prove my statement was, in fact, contrary to popular belief) and it's been disheartening. 

On November 7th, I have a 12-page scientific research paper due on the Black Death where I have to discuss things like epidemiology, transmission, infection, and the history of the various types of plagues that could have caused this terrible event. It's been insanely interesting, but it's also required a mountain of research a month in advance which I've had to schedule around the following:

  • A full edit of my completed novel in preparation for the Atlanta Writer's Conference on November 2
  • Working and perfecting my book pitch (so nervous about that!)
  • Weekly class assignments and readings
  • Bible study twice a week (of which both my husband and I are leaders) and the logistics of making sure everyone knows where to go/what to read/what the hell we're doing
  • Volunteering at the church
  • A full-time job
  • And, last but most definitely not least, closing on our house no later than next weekend (which means at some point during all of this we will need to both pack and move)
Do I sound like I'm complaining? I never want to sound that way. But dammit if I didn't almost have a nervous breakdown yesterday at work. I had been sitting at my desk for hours, trying NOT to think about everything that has to be done between now and the end of the first week of November, and there was this dull, throbbing ache in my chest. And a gurgling in my stomach. And then I was short of breath, which is never a good sign. I am usually very good at handling stress. I am good at scheduling what needs to be done in order to keep everything manageable and I try very hard to keep the people who need to hear from me/have questions/want to meet up/matter updated about what I can do and when. But sometimes enough is enough. So I went home a few hours early to try and get my head on straight. 

You see, I've already done the best I can. I've stripped myself of extra social activities and plans for this month because I knew it was going to be tough. I knew it would require a ton of work. But it's the stress and fear of unmet expectations that ails me. It's also the sudden jolt of fear at the memory of my best friend, a female cop, being hospitalized yesterday after an arrest. She is so brave and her courage is raw and authentic, and sometimes I want to be just like her. I want to face the tough challenges that are bigger than the silliness of making a good grade or just getting through a few weeks, but I know she would tell me that my struggles matter, too. That they're just a different kind of struggle. And she would be right. 

You see, I know how it feels to put forth so much effort towards a friendship, an event, a group, or a goal, only to find that I'm the only one who really gives a shit about it. And I never want to be the cause of that kind of pain for someone else. It's not that I really want to please everyone, it's just I want everyone to know I care. Which, I suppose, is actually very selfish. 

I look at Christ, and I think, "Jesus, I really do want my efforts to be modeled after You." But how do I do that? What would Jesus really do when faced with a schedule that feels so full it might tear at the seams? How would He satisfy His spouse, be a good leader, keep His patience, keep His joy, pitch His book (though I'm pretty sure He doesn't have to worry about that since it's been a bestseller for, oh, I don't know, about five hundred years), maintain His friendships, pursue His goals, and keep His house clean all at the same time? 

I don't really know the answer to that question. When I got home yesterday, I tried to rest but I just couldn't. So I picked up my Bible and just started reading Psalms. Not any one in particular, but a few. I read them aloud. And, oh, they were so good. It was the only thing all day that calmed me down. The dull, throbbing ache went away. My pulse slowed down. And, all of a sudden, the world was new again and I wasn't quite so afraid. I talked to my dad and my friends and my husband, who all told me not to worry, that they would help, that I didn't have to do all this by myself so stop acting like I do, goshdarnit. 

And at the end of the day, I went to bed with a calm, steady heartbeat and a peace in my spirit. It's going to be okay. And, at the end of the day, if it's not I will still have a roof over my head, food in my stomach, friends who care, a family who loves me, a job that pays the rent (MORTGAGE!), my health, my dreams, and a Savior who is bigger than all of it.

What more could I really ask for?


Artistic Voices said...

Wendi, this is beautiful. You somehow managed to turn around the overwhelming feeling of stress (and as someone who goes through anxiety attacks, I know it's not easy) to the overwhelming feeling if peace and serenity. Isn't that what the Bible is ultimately supposed to do for us anyways? Thank you. I needed this, and I'm sure many others needed it as well. Stay strong. <3

My name is Wendi. said...

Thanks friend! I love you.

C.Curley said...

I'm glad you managed to find peace! I've definitely been there. Not necessarily these exact same struggles (pitching a!), but I know what it's like to feel in over my head and not sure how in the world it'll all work out and when I'll be able to REST. I'll be praying for you! (and congrats on the house! moving sucks, but once you're settled it's really all worth the stress.)