Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dear Woman: Trusting God in Grad School

Gopi Pitcher

I didn’t get into grad school the first time I applied. I remember getting all of the waiting list notifications, and feeling so disheartened. I was angry and frustrated, and didn’t understand why I didn’t get in, when years before God gave me the desire to go so I could get to my dream job.  I decided to apply again, and round two was completely different. Applications were given out in July, and depending on the school, had due dates ranging from Oct to December. All 27 schools had my application by the end of August.  Only God.

That summer I found out that my mom and I confirmed our trip back to my birth country (I’m adopted). I got to see where I came from, make forever friends, gain a new perspective, got to see my orphanage, and healed in areas I didn’t realize needed healing. If I had gotten accepted round 1 of applications, I wouldn’t have gotten that experience.  Only God.

I came back from my trip Jan 10, and Jan 11 I had a voicemail from my number one choice of grad school, and that I had been accepted. Only God.

The first year of school was rough. I, like most other students, had to re-learn to study, have an incredibly flexible schedule and needed to prioritize my day. Sometimes that meant taking a shower vs. eating dinner. It meant sacrificing my 1 hour of daily gym time, to 2x a week for 30 mins (on a good week) to make time for studying. My lovely 7 hour sleep nights, turned into 5 hours (or less) of sleep. My brain physically hurt for the first month of school. We received our first test grades back, and I didn’t do well at all. I had studied so much, and felt like I knew the information, and still didn’t get good test grades. I remember calling my mom in tears. Finals weeks were the worse, not only for the obvious reasons, but those weeks I felt the most distant from God. I felt defeated, and questioned why I volunteered to go on this emotional, physical, and mental roller coaster.

My teachers and older students reminded me it wasn’t about the grades. No one is going to ask me what my GPA was on job interviews. I started giving more time to God, thinking that spending more time with him, would be the answer to my tearful prayers. I figured if I spent more time with God, and still studied hard, my grades would be better. That actually didn’t happen. My grades didn’t change, and I realized that I was just a bad test taker. I know all the information, but when it comes to the exams, something wasn’t clicking. What did change was my attitude. Though I still get frustrated when my grades don’t reflect the work I put in, I’ve gotten better at trusting God, it was going to be okay. God constantly reminds me that my identity is in Jesus, not in my test grades. The Lord says that he looks at the inward most desires and makeup of a person’s heart, not their outward appearance (1 Sam 16:7).

Every day is a fight. I fight for sleep, peace, grades, continued healthy living. But I was reminded recently that Obedience is greater than Sacrifice. Obedience can require sacrifice and God rewards those who are obedient. When we hear God’s calling on our life, it requires an immense amount of trust and obedience to fulfill.
The Christmas season is here, and last Sunday at church we talked about Jesus’s birth with a twist. We think of how brave Mary was to be obedient to God, but we don’t look at good ole Joe. Without Joseph’s obedience the story would have been completely different. Mary had a baby bump, and clearly sex before marriage was seriously frowned upon. Everyone thought Mary committed adultery, and as punishment could have been stoned. Joseph put his trust in God, and continued to love Mary, and raise Jesus as his own. He also saved Jesus from being killed from King Herod. Without Joseph’s obedience Mary would have died, Jesus would have died before saving the world. (Matt 2).

What does this have to do with trusting God through Grad School? I told you that I don’t seem to do well on written exams, but am now ½ way through my program. Only God. I trust the Lord with all my being through this 3 year battle. Satan is trying to break me, discourage me, destroy my passion, and steal my trust in God. There are times when the enemy plants thoughts in my head of “not being good enough” of “not passing.” It’s not going to work. God placed me here to do HIS work, and I’m still here. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

God is going to get me through, He has already won. Jesus has already won. I admit, I get busy with the hustle and bustle of school, but my Lord and Savior reminds me He’s got this. He reminds me in the conversations with my professors, in my friendships, and support of friends and family. He reminds me of who HE is when I study for 10 plus hours on one exam, get a bad grade but still pass the semester. Jesus is in control, and when I am reminded of this, I wake up in the morning and say “God I give you this day. I give you this study time, I give you ultimate control.”

Last thing: I’ve recently been watching Netflix (yay free time) and a friend recommended a show to me. In the show, the high school football team that has a motto I really love: Clear eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Lose.   My eyes are clear and focused on Jesus in all things. My heart is full of love for God, and others.  With God in control, I can’t lose.


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