God, Graduate School, and Ultimatums

I struggle (as I expect most people do) with waiting for God’s plan. It’s very hard for me to be at peace with the way things are. I’m consistently trying to focus on the next thing, and plan for the next next thing.

So when God left me waiting, I fought back hard. I would cry, begging for something to change. I would sit in anger because I believed I knew better. I would often wonder if He was listening. I even gave ultimatums.

One such ultimatum dealt with my plans for continuing graduate school. My frustrating situation (of being an overwhelmed 4th year graduate student) coupled with my anxiety and depression has left me bewildered about God’s plan for me. Is completing this PhD really what He wants for me? So I laid down an ultimatum.

If I end up needing to teach, I’m done.

It sounds strange because I actually really enjoy teaching, but the workload would be significant. Piling teaching responsibilities on top of research on top of juggling an infant – no fun, high anxiety. The clock was ticking as my funding was limited after this upcoming fall semester. More than likely, I would need to teach in the spring. And with our lab technician leaving, I was taking on even more responsibilities.

I didn’t really think that God would answer my ultimatum. It’s petty and childish of me. I imagine He watches me in the same way I watch Lily when she’s overtired and can’t decide if she’s happy or fussy. He knows better than I do, but I still fight it.

Oddly enough, He responded in a BIG way. Because my advisor called me into his office today to tell me that the biggest grant that we had applied for had been funded. It wasn’t just a small grant to get us through a year; it was five years of funding with the ability to renew. It was a grant where the odds were not in our favor (because we’re a new lab with minimal publication record). So I know that God has a hand in this because I am still in shock.

I also know that God had a hand in it because the first words out of my advisor’s mouth were “So you don’t have to teach ever.” I was floored with those words. I could hear God’s voice, saying, “I have a plan – trust me.”

So I’m giving up the ultimatums to God because He’s been really making things happen for me this month. In really big and unexpected ways.


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