Graduation: A lesson in stability

Joy Wildfong, RAW Photography

I feel like I should’ve been warned about the post-graduation “crash.”

I woke up Monday morning feeling totally disoriented.  My routine was all out of whack.  I didn’t need to be up at 5:45 to leave my house by 7 to be in Philadelphia by 9.   I didn’t have to put 7 hours into my internship, then sit in class for hours, to get home at 11, to wake up the next morning to do it all over again.  I had to take my friend to the airport, but then I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted with my Monday. No obligations. No appointments. Nothing scheduled.   I met a friend for lunch and met another friend for a chat, and I did so basically on a whim without feeling guilty.  Mostly.

I know there are people out there who relish that kind of unstructured existence, that like to come and go as they please and feel boxed in by life when they can’t.  I am so not one of those people.  While I love those people, and even envy them to some degree, generally they drive me bananas.  Because I’m a person who likes structure and routine and predictability.  I feel sane when I have a framework to operate in, and these days that framework equates to the appointment book held in my Blackberry.  I see a week without appointments, as last week was, and I start to think that I’m unproductive, and then start to feel about as useful to the planet as a stinkbug.   I guess that’s something that I’ve learned about myself in the post-graduation crash: I crave stability.

Seriously.  I crave it, like my very pregnant friend craves cheese and pickle sandwiches.  It may not make a whole lot of sense to anyone else, but I feel satisfied when I have it.  The part of myself that is pyschodynamically trained to analyze people has turned inward on this point.  What I’ve come up with is probably glaringly obvious to anyone who knows me, but…

I was raised an Air Force brat. I was in 9 schools in half-a-dozen states by the time I was 12.  If I were my own client, I would say, “Oh. Well, sure. You spent the most pivotal years of your development in a state of total upheaval.  It’s no wonder that your adult self wants stability so badly.”  It just makes sense.

This gets a little tricky when it plays out in my relationships, though.   And it feels like I’ve had to navigate a lot of “tricky” over the last few weeks.   The relationships I have with the people closest to me, those people that I count on, haven’t been very stable.  Family, friends, friends who are my family – it’s all been shifting.  And it’s work for me to hold on to hope that everything will settle again, and that those relationships will be better for the shifting.

But, hope I do have.  Hope in Christ.   Hope that He is sovereign. Hope that He can be trusted. Hope that He is Love. Hope that He wants for my good and the good of the people I’m in relationship with.  Hope that He’s stable, even when it feels like nothing and no one else is.

One of my favorite verses comes out of  2 Timothy.   Paul’s writing to Timothy, a young guy he’s mentoring and discipling, and Paul’s writing this letter to encourage Timothy to stay the course, to hold hard to God and to maintain faith, because following Christ means sharing in His suffering.  It means facing hardships that are going to want to make us chuck our faith altogether, because it’s going to feel like the pain  just isn’t worth it.  It means that sometimes we’re going to face situations where we’re going to want to waver.  It’s an inescapable piece of being human.   But, Paul – knowing these things to be true because he’s in the midst of the hardship of being in prison for his personal following of Christ – says to Timothy, from prison,  “If we’re faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).

…”He cannot deny Himself.”  Faithful. Steadfast. Stable.  This is who God is.  I waver. I change my mind, and my feelings change based on my situation.  I have moments where I want to chuck it all.  But, God never wants to chuck it all.  He’s never going to get so frustrated by my neurotic analysis that He needs “space,” and  He’s never going to operate without a plan.  All the things I fear most in this world, He’s got covered just by the nature of who He is.

So, maybe I wish someone had told me about the post-graduation crash.  But, I think Paul, through Timothy, gave me what I need to know to start to dealing with it: “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 2:1).

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4 thoughts on “Graduation: A lesson in stability

  1. I suppose I should have warned you about the post-graduation crash. I think I was so happy to have survived that I blocked it from my mind:) Structure and routine will come soon enough.

  2. You are completely right about this. TRANSITIONS are exhausting, even when they are welcome and long-waited-for. It’s like we are in a free-fall until our feet land somewhere. And they will! But the in-between time….we just lose our bearings and, as you say, our sense of accomplishment because we are used to running with certain hurdles at predictable places and we are accustomed to gearing up for each one, hoping to scale it and then the relief at having done so….all before gearing up for the next one. And now….where are the hurdles? Somebody has moved them. Oh, heavens…I’m on a ramble. But you have spoken truth about transitions today.

    I think transitions are given as a gift, as breathing space, as regrouping time, but getting over the unsettling feeling they bring and being able to receive them as gifts is always a big shifting of gears for me. Great post!

    p.s. I am not a runner and really have no experience with the metaphor.

    1. I think it’s a perfect metaphor! I hadn’t really thought about it like that, like part of what’s unsettling is that I’ve been living in this kind of forward momentum always braced to “jump.” It’s definitely a cool-down season for me right now, and I should embrace it. It’s a time to just rest w/ Jesus, a time to listen to Him ’til He puts me back in the race. Now that you’ve got me thinking about it, this is actually a pretty necessary time. I think it’ll help me stay charged to run the race with endurance, as Paul would say.

      Thanks – as always – for the thoughts!

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