The creation of my bucket list has been a work in progress for a few years now and I found some reluctance within me to actually post it. I do not know why. Maybe, it was worry that my list was not good enough or that I would actually have to complete the items on it. The last six months have been dedicated to finally finish writing my list in December. I have already begun accomplishing and working on some of my goals (One was even accomplished a few years ago). The task of writing and completing my list has ushered me into a new season of new beginnings and adventures. My life the last few months has been cluttered with the first few steps toward one of my bucket list goals. Graduate School.
I feel as though there is no greater excuse for my lack of posting to my blog. In August I began my first semester. I do not think I could have anticipated just how much time that this goal would take up of my day to day life. Do not get me wrong. I am not saying that I regret my decision to start my graduate program. On the contrary, I love it! I have always loved learning and I am a lifelong learner. I also know this is what I am called to do right here and right now. What I did not mentally prepare for was how much I could handle, and the amount of time graduate classes would take up in my daily schedule.
My first month of school I began accomplishing another bucket list goal and began teaching English classes in the mornings and I was still working at my other job in the afternoons. My schedule was literally wake up at 4:00 am teach till 8:30 am, nap, do homework, go to my other job, come home and crash, then repeat. In my mind, I pictured how wonderful graduate school life would be I would do homework and learn. Our house would stay spotless and clean. I would have time to be a healthy individual. I would grow the closest to God that I have ever been, and life would be near perfect. The reality, our laundry stayed in baskets every week. Our house was a disaster (Except for when my wonderful husband had time to clean). I was exhausted every day and struggled to make time for school which filled every waking moment outside of work and church. This season definitely did bring me closer to God but in a way, I did not expect it too. It was not in the pursuit of discipline and knowledge that I grew closer to God but in the desperate need of strength and rest. I had to rely on God daily. I went from having times set aside for prayer to praying continually. I was finding myself going from one task to the next asking God for rest, strength, mercy, and for my anxiety to be eased. There were times when I had an exam with hardly any time to study. I would pray for God to somehow allow me to do well. As time passed miraculously, I would receive good grades on of all my assignments.
The first few months of the semester it did not take me long to realize that I had taken on too much. Maybe, not more than I could handle but more than what was healthy to handle. I felt like I barely had time to breathe. I learned the hard way that I cannot do everything. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and I am not God. I cannot just speak, and things will be done. I quickly learned my limit when I began growing irritable toward my wonderful husband who I could not have survived the last few months without. I realized it is ok to be imperfect. There is a deeper meaning to life than laundry. It is not worth trying to be superwoman and do everything. I do not know what it is about our culture that tells us an untrue and unhealthy narrative about women and what we are supposed to be in our world. I do not believe I was born to exhaust myself and do everything. I do not have it within me to live an existence of cooking, cleaning, and nothing more. I yearn for more and struggle with guilt that I am not meant for more. I already learned this lesson once. My life is an accumulation of teaching moments. I fail, reflect, learn, grow, and become a stronger and hopefully better person. During this season the pressure to do everything and be great at it was almost insurmountable. If God has taught me anything during the last few months, it is that I need him as the song Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher says;
“ Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You, I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You”
I knew graduate school would be difficult. I took measures to ensure that I would stay healthy. I asked my husband before the first day of classes to hold me accountable for eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep. He did a far better job than I had anticipated. My husband and I live our lives passionately and with purpose. We are both very hard working. We live our life on a mission and sometimes we both have a tendency to over commit. Before my current adventure ever began, we found ourselves at the end of a busy year. My husband just graduated and finished school while working full time. It had been a while since we had the opportunity to get away just the two of us. So, we planned a sabbatical to find rest, and spend time with God and each other.
We left the day after my first week of midterms as a graduate student. I learned a lot of lessons during our trip. This sabbatical led to a discussion with my husband about being healthier. I was doing great with being physically healthy, but my schedule was not allowing me to be mentally healthy. I needed rest. I needed balance. So, I started to choose to be healthy over constantly overworking myself and being stressed. I began saying “no” to things in my life. I quit one of my jobs. I even said no to some of the insuperable reading that was required of me and gave myself grace and rest. There is something freeing and powerful in saying the word no. I learned to accept my imperfections. I accepted my limits. I began to grow and find a balance.
I think that schools have a double standard. I love to learn. I am willing to work hard and dedicate time to education, but I refuse to let it take over my life. I refuse to not be healthy emotionally, physically, and spiritually for the sake of a good grade. It is ok to not do all of the reading. Even though I am not able to cross this off my bucket list yet. I have a year and a half left in my program. I thought I would continue to share some of my struggles and thoughts as I move through what will be some of the most personally shaping years of my life. I write this at the conclusion of my first semester with the second semester beginning next week. I am proud to say that I earned all A’s and one B+. I have to admit that at first, having one B stung but the time I spent actually enjoying this new journey was more worth it.
Lastly, I would like to take the time to thank my amazing husband who cooked dinner every night, cleaned when he had time, made sure I put down my textbooks and went to bed, told me to exercise, and helped me survive the last few months. Thank you, Mr. Horton, for staying up late one night to help me search for the take-home exam that I lost after spending days working on it. I appreciate your efforts in digging through all of our garbage bags at twelve in the morning. Even though we never found it and we both had to be up early the next morning. Thank you for making breakfast, packing my lunch every Tuesday, and listening to my thoughts about class discussions, different counseling theories, and annoying people. Thank you for praying for me when I was exhausted, stressed beyond words, and showing me grace when I was grouchy, tired and irritable. I could not survive this journey without you or live life without you. I love you. Everyone needs a spouse or person like you in their lives.