You know, I really do not understand how people get through life, or even graduate school, without God.
I spent this summer studying for qualifying exams. For those of you who’ve avoided academia, qualifying exams are the first step towards being a PhD candidate. I had to sit three 3-hour exams in each algebra, analysis, and topology; if I passed them sufficiently well, I’m considered an official PhD candidate. Great success, hopefully.
Since so much rides on these exams, my cohort and I spent literally three months studying for these tests in an effort not to embarrass ourselves. This was a long, stressful process that ultimately led me to a mild mental breakdown. Thankfully, my friends supported me as I sought psychiatric care and I’m doing much better now that I have medicine to regulate my mental stability. I’m not super thrilled to be dependent on medication to function like a normal human being, but hey – a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
What’s truly made a difference in my life, though, is my new roommate. Melanie is literally one of the most inspirational Christ followers that I know, and she’s totally responsible for keeping me on track when stress got to be too much. I remember one of the first few days after she had moved in, we were studying in the living room and I was freaking out because I didn’t understand something. Mel just turned to me and said the following:
Those words really resonated with me – why was I so worried about my exams? Yes, they are important, but my worth as a person, my success, isn’t rooted in how much I study or how well I do on a math test; rather, everything is rooted in Christ. It’s only through Him that I am capable of doing anything, whether it be study, teach, or live. If He wants me to get my PhD, it’s going to happen. I still have to work for it, but if God’s there to support me in my mission, nothing can ever stop me.
Believing that takes so much pressure off of me as a student. The Lord knows I’m going to screw up; I’m imperfect, sinful, human. Yet, He loves me anyway. He sees the potential in me that I don’t see myself. He saved me, and put me here in an effort to use me for His will.
That’s pretty rockin’. 🙂
A bunch of people from the math department went out last night to celebrate the end of quals (for 2nd years), the successful completion of the first week of school (for 1st years), and the general awesomeness of all of us being back in the same place again. As somehow always happens, the topic of religion came up, and someone asked me what exactly I believe. I realized that I didn’t actually have an eloquent answer for that, so I thought and prayed about it and decided to include a brief description here, in case I ever need to reference it again.
I identify as an Evangelical Christian. Wikipedia has a decent description of the history and general beliefs of evangelicals, but let me break it down for you:
- The Bible is the absolute authority. It’s the divinely inspired Word of God, the way that we learn about His character and desires for us, everything.
- John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The Bible says that whoever believes that Chirst became man on Earth, died for our sins, and rose from the dead will have everlasting life. Belief is the essential component of salvation. While good works, baptism, etc should follow from the life changing experience of being saved, they are not a requirement for salvation. Some people refer to this as being “born again”.
- I dedicate myself to being as Christ-like as humanly possible. This involves reading from the Bible daily to better understand what that means, spending time in prayer to build my relationship with God, consciously turning away from temptation and sin, and spreading God’s message to anyone who will hear it.
That doesn’t mean that I’m perfect at it in the slightest – there are days I sleep in instead of reading the Bible, choose to indulge in a sin rather than abstain, and ignore that which God is calling me to do. I’m a sinner, just like everyone else. That’s why I need Christ in my life – to save me from my sin. This life we live on Earth isn’t the end; it’s just a blip in the radar of eternity.
Now that we’ve gotten that straightened out, here’s to another semester of life, of walking with God, and of awesome math. I know I’m ready for it; are you?