Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Tried to Be Supergirl

And since I'm human, I failed.

I've mentioned before that I've been trying to squeeze my current correspondence course requirements into a shorter timeframe. That's what I set out to do the moment my books arrived two weeks ago, and, well, that's somewhat why I failed...

When my "schoolyear" officially began, I set out as ambitious with my personal goals as ancient China was with the Great Wall. I wanted to do a nearly triple-dose of the suggested study pace, I wanted to maintain all my ministerial duties, I wanted to keep my cyber-life almost as active as before, and I wanted to do a thousand other things. Many people died building the Great Wall, and many parts of me died these two weeks. I lost all quality time with my family, I was always rushed even when expressing concern, I couldn't read, I couldn't help around, and I had no time to rest.

I tried to be supergirl, and since supergirl doesn't exist, I failed.

The first reminder was my health. Having no time to eat, sleep, or exercise well, I lost weight "without reason." My eyes and back became unduly strained by long hours at the computer.

Reminder number two was my mom. She was nagging me since day one that I was over-shooting my goals, but I dismissed her advice as mothers-have-to-nag syndrome. "I'll prove I'm okay," I thought. Well, I was okay for a week, during which I used up all my reserve energy. After that, I faltered, often leaving work undone or just nodding off everywhere around the house.

Yet still I was insistent. Surely I could achieve what God would have me do, right? His strength shall be sufficient for His work, right?

Then strike three was Elizabeth Elliot in her book Discipline: "There is always enough time to do the will of God...when we find ourselves frantic and frustrated, harried and harassed and hassled, it is a sign that we are running on our own schedule, not God's."

Ouch, now that hurt. Yet at the same time, it relieved me, because it showed me the problem.

While I am too happy with studying to be frustrated, I really have been "harried and harassed and hassled." I had been running on my own schedule, not God's. When I think about it, God never required me to cling obstinately to all my activities while studying overtime. God never told me I had to finish 33 lectures, four books, and two major papers by the end of the year, even while handling camp, Christmas, and other matters.

Well, if it hadn't been from God, then from whom?

Me, it had all come from me and my stupid pride. I was the one who wanted to be a non-resting, over-achieving supergirl. I was the one who wanted to outpace even my parents' expectations and awe everyone with the amount of responsibilities I could handle. While it's true that God wants me to maximize my time and perhaps give up an addiction or two, He never told me to cram like crazy, never rest, and neglect everyone around me.

God never wanted me to be supergirl; He only wants me to be His little girl, a sinner child adopted by His grace.

I tried to be supergirl, because I thought it would be cool. I tried to be supergirl, and thank God I failed. After all, that's never what I was meant to be.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On Worth and Waiting

At long last, I am a studying college student. True, distance education isn't the norm around me, but the difference of that fact doesn't make things lighter for me.

In an effort to maximize all the time I have at hand in the face of an uncertain future, my parents and I have determined to squeeze the requirements into a much shorter time. In other words, even as I try to maintain my church commitments, social interactions, and basic family responsibilities, I have to "double up" on all my college assignments. It can get draining.

In the vocabulary of college students everywhere, I could be having "hell week" every week. Yet strangely, at the same time, there is something heavenly about these hell weeks. There is a gratefulness, an excitement, an enthusiasm about my studies that I seldom had before. It's strange, yet it's true, and I know the reason behind it.

For the past two months or so, I have been frustratedly idle. I did not have any studies or work to keep me busy, and I was impatient for my college books to arrive. There were days when I would sulk silently; there were days when I would complain ceaselessly. I wanted my books to arrive as soon as possible, and I bugged everyone--the school, my family, my friends--about my frustration over boredom and idleness.

During that time, I was tempted to anticipate my college assignments as heaven, as if anything on earth could be that. My mind would rant, "If only they would come soon, all would be well." Looking back, I feel that if they really had come sooner, if these assignments had directly followed my high school requirements, I would probably have broken down in overwork and tears.

That period of rest made me energized for this new challenge of life, and even more, that time of inactivity restored to me the joy of industriousness. All these requirements that I am trying to rush...they bring me mental labor, but they bring me joy and gratefulness. Because of that time of waiting, I learned to treasure their worth.

I did not wait because I felt this thing was worth it. Instead, this thing increases in worth because I had to wait for it. It's not that there's waiting because of worth; there's worth because of waiting.

God is the wisest indeed. Perhaps when I keep these pointers in mind, waiting to drive, waiting to travel alone, waiting to work, waiting to love, waiting to teach, waiting to lead, and all those other "waits" won't seem as daunting. If worth comes from waiting, then perhaps at times I'd rather wait more than less.