Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Much Needed Reminder

“For I know the plans I have for you…”

It’s easy to wonder sometimes whether we are following the correct path in life, and this gives rise to doubts as to whether or not we have truly been “put” where we belong or if we have chosen it for ourselves. For those who choose to live their lives seeking God’s will in all things, it’s difficult sometimes to escape these doubts as to whether God chose our course and brought us where we are or if we chose it and brought Him there instead. These are doubts I’ve entertained for the last few months since beginning my second semester as a first year law student… They have truly tried my faith.

I had hoped to draft this earlier in case the novelty faded. I wanted to write this to preserve a reminder for myself in the event I become discouraged about the course I’ve chosen in life, which I’m sure I will do from time to time…

I must confess, law school has been harder than I imagined it would be. (This leads me to wonder if I perhaps watched Legally Blonde one too many times.) Given everything that took place last semester concerning the month long illness and eventual passing of my precious niece Abigail, I did not do as well as I’d hoped to do on final exams, which took place at the same time as this tragedy in my family. I let the fact that I did not score as well as I thought I could have get to my head. I started to wonder if maybe I wasn’t cut out for this after all. I started to wonder if I had chosen this course for myself and done so to my own disadvantage. I had once been sure that this was where I belonged, but I began basing the accuracy of my decision on the world’s standards and not God’s. Perhaps a truer statement is that I’d been pretty sure that this was God’s will, but I wasn’t feeling very sure that it was mine anymore. That was until last Saturday, when I had a powerful reminder.

Public speaking has always been one of my biggest fears, but in facing that fear in the past (through mock trial in college and L-D debate in high school) I felt strong and convicted; I forgot myself. I was worried that I had changed too much since then and that this would no longer come naturally to me in my mid-twenties when I learned that I had to compete in a first year Oral Arguments Competition last weekend. I was fortunate to have been proven wrong. Not only did I feel as strong and convicted as I did in younger days, but I felt stronger than I ever had. In the midst of arguing I nearly forgot the fictional state of my client. Every minute was a total rush that left me wanting more. The judge’s comments and encouragement at the conclusion of the round only fed this fire. I left the competition not knowing whether I would advance but feeling reassured. I prayed the whole way there making requests of God and the whole way home thanking Him just feeling something inside me reminding me that I was born for this. This is what I want to do. It’s what I was made to do. This was the reason I felt convicted to go to law school: so that someday I can stand and do this in an actual courtroom. I felt convicted that this was what God wanted for my life and I felt so grateful that He sustained me through it.

When I learned on Monday that I advanced to next round, which takes place this Saturday, I was thrilled beyond belief. It was icing on the cake. I already had my reminder and whether or not I go further, I’m positive I will not be one bit discouraged. The point, I guess is that sometimes we doubt and when we do, God usually gives us that gentle nudge (or great big push in some instances) to remind us what it is we should be doing.

How awesome is our God that He cares even about the trivial things, which we inflate to such great proportions in our tiny lives?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Keeping God in the Details

It has been some time since I posted. It is not because I have been completely destroyed by the death of my precious niece. I have not stayed away because I’ve lost an ounce of hope or faith. It has just taken me some time for me to be able to write again. (Fortunately, I was encouraged and admonished about this recently by a dear friend I had not seen in many seasons.) Abby’s death still weighs heavy on my heart but I am secure in knowing that God has a purpose, even if I don’t know or understand what it is right now and even if the details leading up to her death still haunt me.

In the months that have followed, I have been consumed with trying to keep up with the workload for my second semester as a 1L, which has been quite challenging. I have also been trying to recover from another car accident I was in just a few days after Abigail’s funeral in NY that was certainly a setback to my progress. To quote my physical therapist, I am "back at zero." But in these months I have discovered that it is more than just mind over matter, it is keeping God in the details.

About two years ago, after having one spinal procedure and one major surgery that left me hospitalized for a month and not walking unassisted for some time afterwards, I was told that I needed a double spinal fusion. I’ll spare you the gruesome details and just note that it involves removing discs, bone grafting and inserting metal rods and screws into the spine and pelvis. (I guess that was still pretty gruesome. Sorry.) This was before this last accident and after the second of three that have taken such a toll on my body. For years I wondered why God would not heal me. I struggled with being in pain all the time and muddled through physical therapy, which only seemed to make matters worse and showed me how far I needed to go to get better.

This time, I decided to try something new. I decided to work this through without doctors and with God. M and I moved recently into a great building in Arlington that has a rooftop gym with an amazing view of Washington DC. For the last two weeks, I have been going up there almost every day and “working out like a rockstar,” as I like to put it. I’ve been on spring break this week and so I have had the gym mostly to myself. I’ve been amazed at what I am capable of doing if I approach it in prayer. I know there is a long road ahead to recovering completely and I may not be able to push surgery off permanently, but I feel stronger and healthier and more capable then I have in years. I have turned my workout into a time of worship. With Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman blasting through my ear buds, I feel strength that I didn’t know I had and it is taking me miles – literally.

Sometimes there are so many distractions that make staying in constant conversation with God difficult. But it is in the little things, such as washing dishes, cleaning the house, going to the grocery store, or taking care of our bodies that we can magnify Him. (I'm sure there are some better examples that don't involve chores that could be inserted into that sentence too.) It certainly has taken me further than I ever could have gone on my own. And who knows how far I’ve yet to go! It helps to know that I'm not going it alone... and never really was.