protect

After quite a hiatus, today’s five minute friday post, in true imperfect form, comes on Saturday and took closer to 10 minutes. The free-writing format still does wonders for the soul, and I desperately needed this today. The past months’ emotions and thoughts swirling in my head have finally started to find their way to my fingers, so they type once again…

 

The ship is sinking. For the last six months, I’ve known it was leaking uncontrollably, and yet to those of us on deck, daily life went along as normal.  Gradually, the captain would disappear for long periods of time, sometimes leaving the ship at the mercy of the waves, and sometimes leaving guidance to a youthful, eager (yet unqualified) member of the crew. I continued to do my own job on the crew, working overtime to combat the erratic steering or the lack of captain altogether. Yesterday another crew member deserted the ship in what they could contrive into a lifeboat, marking half of the crew gone overboard since March. Deserted by our captain, ship sinking, who is there to protect us?

The ship, of course, is my life, my lab, my work. The captain is my professor who is giving up on getting tenure. I’ve watched half of my lab mates either give up or narrowly escape into safer labs. Those who remain are unmotivated. The offices and lab are hollow and lonely and often empty. Through all of this, I still have a captain.  I am not an orphan, so I am technically not in need of rescue. Yet my captain is absent and no one is looking out for me.

A nerve is touched repeatedly in my soul. I’m still the little girl who grew up with a mentally ill mother. Yes, a mother who was there–except when she wasn’t or when she was a monstrous someone else. The child whose wise, strong father did not protect her from the ravages of her mother’s illness. I’m still a small, timid daughter whose veins learned to pump fear because she does not know how to speak or act in a situation, and she has no one to look to as an example. I’m the quaking teen stepping out into a life of dizzying height and possibilities, paralyzed by the lack of control, and afraid to step out because she is unsure of stability and security around her.

I’m still that girl, 10-odd years later, now finding my life’s work on a ship with a deserting captain, tossed in the waves of academia, unsure how to survive or if I even will. Who will protect me?

The answer that God will protect me seems too trite for the gravity of the situation. Destruction is bound to occur, both emotional and career-wise. It already is occurring. Resist as I might, in these last months I have been scarred, become less trusting and more cynical, and have given in to self-pity more than I’d like to admit. In fact, this is not the first time that all my grad school dreams have come crashing down around me, which seems just a little bit unfair. (Yes, life is not fair, but this PhD was supposed to be the redemption of everything wrong with the first PhD attempt!)

So I sit on a Saturday tapping out my disjointed attempt at Five Minute Friday, pondering what God’s protection in my sinking circumstances looks like. His protection must be a sort of soul-protection that can occur despite my career drowning at sea. Yes, that’s what I experienced the first time around. But more subtly, His protection is also the guarding of the spark, the passion, the love for the science I study, the ache for His revelation through creation. On the days when I have no motivation to get out of bed, I am guarded from despair by His whisper to my soul that He wants to reveal more of Himself today, and He needs me to be present fully in mind and body to receive that.  It is the experience of being seen and known by Him and his desire to be known by me, that is the truest protection for my heart and soul, no matter what is swirling and sinking around me.

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8 thoughts on “protect

  1. How amazing is writing to distil the messages that swirl around in our heads about our circumstances? Sounds like your lab situation is so complicated, and bringing up agonising reminders of your past, but your final paragraph is so poetic and true. Beautiful. (An FMF neighbour right next door at #62 this week!)

  2. Oh, Katy.

    Your words are so telling, so true, and so poignant. Academia is the only road to a lot of worthwhile destinations…but as a ‘place’, it sucks. To the point that I would not admit to being a ‘professor’, only a teacher.

    And yes, ‘God will protect you!’ can sound very trite. As you have so clearly said, His protection is monumentally subtle, and not trivially obvious.

    Good post, and so glad to see you again.

    • There is nothing I love more than a good phrase to chew on… “Academia is the only road to a lot of worthwhile destinations” is definitely something I’ll keep mulling over. Your words are validation and encouragement to keep pressing on. Thanks, Andrew!

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