Monday, January 28, 2008

"I Don't Like How Emotions Make me Feel!"

That's the quote I heard while Tim was watching Jon & Kate + Eight (a tv show about a family with twins and then sextuplets--it's amazing, but it makes me tired). It's true, I hate emotions. Well, sort of. I hate negative emotions. (Duh. Don't we all?)
Yesterday our pastor asked me whether Katie was for real when she e-mailed and sounded like everything was going well. At first I didn't connect the confusion...then slowly I realized why he was wondering.
Katie had expressed lots of doubts on the phone to me that day. That day it felt awful to be separate from her and have so much feel undecided. One girl was leaving the school for good that day because of doubts about the department in which she had her major, the same major as Katie's--voicing the same doubts about it that Katie had come home with over Christmas.
Katie had gotten me doubting, too, mine snowballing onto her doubts, and the hardest part was that I didn't know a single one of the answers, didn't know where to find out, and wasn't there to help her with it: Was it the right college? Was it the right major? Should she take 18 credit hours, or drop a course? How many hours of work could she handle? How many hours of sleep could she justify whittling it down to each night? Should she change majors? I knew that Pastor Ken had asked her a couple of times why she had chosen that particular college. I know somewhat why he might have asked that question, since we'd started realizing that we might be developing some differences of biblical views from those of the college...yet it was the track we'd been on so long, and no college is perfect, and it was unthinkable to change at such a late date...
So in view of the "why that college" question that he had asked her, I thought it was appropriate to send him an e-mail regarding her doubts regarding the choice of college. I never have a lump in my throat; that was a notable feeling in putting my doubts into words. Doubt is one of those negative emotions, in my book. I was hoping that he might have some advice for us, some insight regarding the college question.
Still, I don't remember even being surprised that Katie so quickly recovered; I was just relieved that most of what she was wrestling with of her own from that point was more minor, and that she was back to sharing the (publicized) prayer requests of others. I understand, looking back, where she got some of her perspective about her doubts; it was those prayer requests. They have a way of making one's own troubles seem infinitesimal. How can a person even ponder their own minor doubts when compared to the extreme concerns of others?
Katie told me that she had come to accept that the student who left the college had the same doubts, but that the girl's decision to leave didn't mean leaving was the right decision for her. I'm so glad that she evaluated it for herself. I also feel convinced that her ability to cope with all the doubts and all the difficulties she does is because people are praying for her. We pray for her; our pastor does; and various people every Sunday are asking about her, keeping tabs on how she is doing.
I've never resided in a dorm, and I don't relate to how hard it must be; easy in some ways, and yet hard--meals are prepared, laundry is on-site, almost everything is available right there on campus, and her church is even adjacent to the property. There are friends right on hand, so there's lots of moral support and encouragement; yet there are people everywhere, so there is no privacy to speak of. Katie is very aware that the effort she puts forth in every subject in the present may affect so much for the future--eligibility in the short-term for very necessary scholarships, and possible job eligibilities in years to come. The pressure from this seems like an unfortunate burden to add to all that which is inherent to all that classwork and dorm life.
Still, by the grace of God, the happy things outweigh the hard things for Katie. She loves to be near her friends, this girl who was homeschooled and never quite clicked in her youth ministry all through her teen years. There are great students, professors, dorm counselors, and we even know some people off-campus who live nearby. She's got lots of moral support and more importantly prayer support. By God's grace also she has a pretty resilient tendency to see the bright side; our reminder to each other is "BJA, PC"--"Be joyful always, pray continually"--and she takes it to heart. She loves her classes this term, loves her profs, loves her work-study supervisor. How can so many things be so good, how can she do what-all she does? I can only attribute it to the power of all the prayer going up on her behalf, and God's grace.
In all of this, there's a reminder, something of a rebuke to myself--I need to update people with whom I share these requests, when their prayers are answered and it's time instead to praise God for His goodness; God is so good! Hallelujah! Amen.

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