The months of November through February were a bit of a scramble of applications for me. I believe that God has been working in me to attend grad school, so I was doing a mad search for schools and programs that I was interested in, scrambling to get references lined up, writing essays, deciding on research topics, contacting faculty. I started out behind the 8 ball a bit, because by the time I had really settled in my heart that grad school looked like the next step, the deadlines were only weeks away for some programs. But I managed to finish everything on time and settled in to wait.
By mid-February, the good news started rolling in. I was accepted to one of my top two schools: Imperial College London, a top-ten engineering school with a great program, and in the UK no less! Color me excited. And things were looking good for my first choice. I was in touch with faculty at the University of Bristol; they were highly encouraging, liked my research proposal, and seemed confident that they would be able to track down a funded position for me.
Then the bottom started dropping out. While waiting for offers to come in from the four schools I applied to, I had begun looking at scholarships and other funding options from my end. I began with a list of about five that looked promising. I quickly crossed them all off, realizing that I was ineligible for each for one reason or another. (This one is only for study within the U.S. That one’s deadline had passed. The other one was only for students who graduated from undergrad less than two years ago. And pretty much every. single. option. in the UK is for EU students only. What do they have against Americans?) I searched out new scholarships, only to have to cross them off too. I have spent hours and hours on the internet searching for funding only to end up with a long list of scholarships, fellowships, and grants that I’m ineligible for. Imperial awarded me a substantial scholarship offer, but not nearly enough that I could hope to cover the rest of tuition and cost of living on my own. My Bristol contact ran into wall after wall after wall trying to scrounge up funding for me–it’s all for EU students, and they won’t even offer me a place without the funding lined up. I got wait-listed at MIT…
This all pretty much came to a head on Thursday. It was crappy to wake up to an email that pretty much said, “We’re sorry and wish there was more we could do, but it’s really not looking good for you.” Immediately, God whispered, “Trust me.” Trust You for what, God? I don’t think the war is over, and I intend to keep fighting. And at this point I intend to win and be enrolled in a grad program next fall…but I have no idea how it’s going to happen. I’ve been in this place before, and honestly it’s a great place to be–out on a limb where only God can catch you. That’s where He does His best work. And I’ve seen Him come through over and over.
But there have also been times when the “coming through” didn’t happen like I wanted it to. Like when I went to Milford Sound with my friend and although we prayed for good weather it rained (HARD) all day, but then there were THOUSANDS of waterfalls streaming down the cliffs EVERYWHERE. More beautiful than sunshine, for sure. Or the summer after college. I was fully ready to have a second internship with the company in Reno where I had interned the previous year. I’d had a great time, gained amazing experience, made friends, and they’d told me they would be happy to have me back. Only when the time came…they didn’t have a position for me. I was pretty jolted. That summer I ended up peeling logs and singing opera at Macaroni Grill. It was a really, really odd summer. But it was also a lot of fun and really good for me. That job kicked my butt regularly and taught me SO MUCH that I never would have figured out in my safe little engineering internship. So even worse case scenario–all grad schools fall through and I have to re-figure out what the heck to do with my life–is sure to yield something interesting.
I’ve been reading Philippians, preparing to do a teaching AT PHILIPPI (how friggin cool is that?!) during a Bible lands tour coming up in a few weeks, and have been struck by Paul’s amazing attitude. His whole life (at least after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus) was basically a worst case scenario. It’s actually laughable to compare mine with his. He lost everything in one moment. He became a pariah to everyone who was previously important to him. He lost all of his worldly status and credibility. In Philippians 3 he himself says that he “suffered the loss of all things.” And he had it pretty rough from that point on. Just look at 2 Corinthians 11.
2 Corinthians 11: 24-27 (ESV)
24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
In fact, Paul wrote Philippians from prison, where he was on trial for his life, and he wrote of his future as a very uncertain thing. From his wording, it seems he believed death could be imminent. Yet the most marked thing about Philippians, consistently noted by commentaries, is that it is Paul’s most joyful epistle. He used the word for joy or rejoice 16 times in a relatively short letter. Even his contemplation of death is quite cheerful.
Philippians 1: 18b – 21 (ESV)
Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
I want to be like Paul, joyful under any circumstance. I’m not yet. Haha I thought I was getting there, but it turns out I still have a bit to go. The reason this thing is being posted at 2 am is because I’m wide awake. I’ve been tossing and turning, head just whizzing, trying to figure out how I can make this all happen. But that’s not really my job, is it? If I made it all happen God wouldn’t really get the glory. Probably I need to just sit still, and remember that He is God. To nudge my soul to bless the Lord and not forget allllllll His benefits. And to remember that even worst case scenario, God is still God. God is still good. And God still has adventures up His sleeve for me. Bring on tomorrow. Because honestly, there really isn’t a worst case scenario, it’s all best case scenario with Him.