Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Grief Observed

It’s been one week since I found out I didn’t get into the Southern Studies Ph. D. program at
UARK (University of Arkansas).

I think I’m ready to discuss it, now.

Day 1
It was late in the afternoon, when I received my rejection letter. I was on the phone with my sister, lamenting that I hadn’t yet received anything from the school. She tried to comfort me with words of false hope. “You may not get an acceptance letter, but you’ll definitely be an alternate.” Then I opened my email, while still talking to her, and I read this:

Later that night, I stared at my bedroom ceiling and prayed to understand.

I felt nothing but cold silence.

Day 2
I came into work the next morning, and my boss decided he was going to yell at me for something that hurt his exorbitantly large ego. After I escaped from his office, a chilling thought came into my head: “There is no escape for you, now. You are just like everybody else: stuck in a job that will slowly dull your senses and crush you ability to dream.”

Tears streamed down my face. I ran to the office bathroom, and turned the faucet on to muffle my sobs.

Day 3
I wasted this entire day. I didn’t do one lick of homework for my Spanish class. After all, what was the point of Spanish, now?

I then decided to get a little crazy with my credit card. I went to eBay and bought the following list of items:

1. IPod Touch (64gb)
2. An Optimus Nova+ (a white fuel backpacking stove)
3. Macbook hard drive upgrade and Ram
4. Keen Hiking Sandals

The IPod was actually a compromise. What I really wanted was an IPhone, but I couldn’t justify paying $100 a month for an effing phone. Next was the stove. I’ve wanted one of these for three years. You can use any fuel…ANY FUEL…with this stove. Then there was the ram and hard drive upgrade. I needed those in order to upgrade my OS (my computer was working on an OS from ’06). Lastly, the sandals. Let’s face it. Keen are kind of like a JEEP: they look pretty, they’re overpriced, and you can get them dirty.

Like I always say, “Nothing dulls the brutal ache of failure like blowing a bunch of carefully saved cash.”

Day 4
I sang “I Stand All Amazed” for the Easter program. It was pretty cool.

I took a four hour nap.

The iceberg started to thaw in my heart.

Day 5
A relapse of terror and anger caused an afternoon whine fest. I felt a profound conviction that I had somehow been robbed by having faith in my dreams and faith in God. What bothered me most was I had gone emotionally bankrupt betting on the one thing that you shouldn’t be afraid to bet on: yourself.

Day 6
With an upgraded Macbook and a spanking new IPod, I found a scripture and conference app made by the church. I started reading every talk given by Jeffrey R. Holland in the last 5 years.

Here are my favorites:
“Broken Things to Mend” April 2006
“The Only True God and Jesus” October 2007
“The Ministry of Angels” October 2008
“None Were with Him” April 2009
“Safety for the Soul” October 2009
“Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul” April 2010

The most important quote came from the first talk:

“I speak to those who are facing personal trials and family struggles, those who endure conflicts fought in the lonely foxholes of the heart, those trying to hold back floodwaters of despair that sometimes wash over us like a tsunami of the soul. I wish to speak particularly to you who feel your lives are broken, seemingly beyond repair.
To all such I offer the surest and sweetest remedy that I know. It is found in the clarion call the Savior of the world Himself gave. He said it in the beginning of His ministry, and He said it in the end. He said it to believers, and He said it to those who were not so sure. He said to everyone, whatever their personal problems might be:
‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’”

Day 7
Life resumes.

I began studying for finals. I also began to prepare for two trips to Canada. I bought my tickets, and began collecting the proper gear (another use for my soon to arrive white fuel stove). I even signed up for a university taught GRE prep course.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to me now, but I’m compelled by my will to keep fighting and keep seeking after hope.

Faith may be the one thing I get out of this whole copious mess of paper cuts and vinegar.