Here we are – just FOUR days away from Christmas and a measly ten days away from a new year. What happens to the time? This past semester simply flew by and, although I’ve been home for 4 days now, I needed some time to sit, reflect, and enjoy being around my parents and sweet pups before I was really ready to sit at my computer and hash out an adequate recap of the past 4 months.
As cliché as it may be, the past 4 months were kind of a crazy roller coaster ride. There were times I found myself hanging on for dear life and there were also times where I had my hands thrown up in the air and was enjoying the ride. Regardless of where I was at emotionally, mentally, and physically, I learned so much along the way that, as I look back, I’m having a difficult time remaining bitter or angry about the not-so-great parts or things that occurred.
I took on WAY too much this semester. I had 18 credit hours and was also working anywhere from 8-12 hours each week. No one warned me that sophomore year classes would be tough and despite the workload outside of class not being too awful, classes were just more difficult and demanding in general. If you’ve been with me from the start of the semester you may remember how disappointed I was with my initially orchestra placement at the start of the semester. Well, as the semester progressed I tried so much to keep my eyes of God and see what relationships He would be building or what things I’d be learning through the process – and I can say that, either He’s teaching me to be patient and wait out a blessing that has yet to come, or He is simply teaching me to endure uncomfortable and not-ideal situations with a positive attitude (which I admit, is a lesson I am in need of because as the semester went on and I got increasingly tired and frustrated my positive attitude dwindled too). At the start of the semester I was super excited about my chamber music group – we were pursuing Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir De Florence which is a massive and exceedingly difficult work. You can listen to it by clicking this link:
Scheduling rehearsals and coachings was a nightmare because there were 6 of us – all with different schedules and obligations and outside things to attend too, but for the most part, we made it work. Then a week before our assigned concert one member of our group got a bad case of tendonitis. For those of you who aren’t aware – that is a devastating diagnosis for a musician. Thankfully, she caught it early and took steps to prevent it’s getting worse – one of which meant taking the rest of the semester off from playing. We were all crushed – primarily for her, but also because it meant we wouldn’t get to perform. Our chamber coach was flexible in working with us and still allowed us to received a grade for the semester without a performance of our piece, for which I am so so grateful to him! So, that was tough to swallow because I had gotten so frustrated with other aspects of school that chamber music had quickly become the one performance opportunity I felt like I had to look forward too.
(Rachi was an honorary member of the sextet!)
To complicate things even further, around mid October I began feeling extremely tired ALL of the time. I was nodding off in class, falling asleep across my desk at work, having trouble getting out of bed in the mornings, and getting straight into bed upon arrive home in the late afternoons…none of which is like me. More often than not, I’m accused of not allowing myself to get ENOUGH sleep, and yet, now I couldn’t STOP sleeping. Ends up that I had a partial bundle branch blockage in my heart which persisted for 2-3 weeks before it dissipated on it’s own. I’ve had minor heart issues in the past such as an elongated QTC or heart murmurs, etc but this one threw me (and my medical team) for a bit of a loop. There are multiple possible causes, none of which we were able to pin down with certainty.
But those things happen and such is life. It was nobody’s fault that things played out (no pun intended) like they did and it was one of those things where you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and move forward to the best of your ability.
One of the biggest lessons I learned this semester was that I am doing the best I can and at the end of the day, as long as I’ve done my best – there is nothing else that I can do. I won’t always get everything done and I won’t always do everything right. I won’t always be what other people want or need me to be and I won’t always be who I want or need me to be. But I can promise myself and everyone around me that I gave this semester my best shot. With only a couple years distance from intensive treatment for my eating disorder – things are still fairly fresh….there are still lessons to be learned and strides to be made. I have more things on my plate (again, no pun intended) than most college sophomores and that is still something that I need to come to terms with. I have this tendency to look to my left and to my right and then get upset or frustrated with myself because I feel as though I am not capable of doing what the person next to me is doing, or of achieving the amazing things that they are achieving. But our situations are not the same. WE are not the same. We were made for different things – none of which is of lesser or greater importance than the other. I’ve got a lot of different things going on and a very unique situation and my time line and trajectory does not and will not ever look like the people’s around me – neither is right or wrong, good or bad. What’s important is that I am continuing to move forward and also encouraging others around me to do the same.
One of the greatest ways I was able to move forward and to help others move forward this semester was through finally finding a church home. I visited Trinity EPC back in May one time and then started attending regularly this past August and it has quickly become like home to me. I sing in the choir and play in the praise band! It brings me SO much joy to worship God with my music and to help others to worship Him as well. It is the little push I need every week to keep my eyes focused on the right thing and my heart in the right place. There are so many distractions and things that pull at my heart – begging for my time, money, mental and emotional space, that attending church regularly and feeling as though I am a part of it and contributing are vital aspects to my well being and my spiritual/emotional health and continued recovery.
In addition to finding a church to call home, there were some other great parts to the semester. As usual, my private teacher is AMAZING and I love him! He is always so encouraging and uplifting. He looks out for all his students and I truly feel like he has everyone in our studio’s best interest in mind when making plans/suggestions. He is inspiring as a performer and as a human being. He is always willing to listen and offer up advice in regards to music, but also in regards to our personal lives. He is invested in creating an environment where we, as students, feel safe and encouraged, but also challenged and inspired to grow even more outside our comfort zones.
And what type of lame blog post would this be if I didn’t mention my saving grace, my angel, my best friend…
This was the first semester that I had Rachi living with me in Ann Arbor, and I can honestly say that she was my saving grace more times than I can even count. Coming home to her wagging tail and wiggly squeals or joy made the worst days bearable. Spending time walking her and talking to her (my neighbors probably think I’m totally crazy) was the highlight of my day. Snuggling up next to her as she slept with her head next to mine on the pillow made the worst nightmares seem silly. And laughing at her antics (like trying to get in the tub with me when I took a bath, or her chasing her tail, or the way she LOVES to go to school and see my friends, etc) made every day a little (LOT) brighter. There were days where I doubt I would’ve even gotten out of bed, much less left my apartment to attend class, if she weren’t there asking to go out or be fed. This past Sunday, at church, my pastor said, “God sends angels into our lives to help lead us to Jesus.” and as soon as he said that, I knew that that is EXACTLY why God sent me Rachi.
Rachi had a pretty cool achievement this past semester as well – her adoption story that I shared with the Petco foundation won the Lynchburg Humane Society a $5,000.00 grant! You can read her full adoption story here:
(A HUGE thank you to everyone who came out to Petco last Thursday to celebrate the humane society and Rachi!)
The general overarching lesson of this past semester was simply that a big mess requires a big God. And I was shown time and time again that my God is big enough to handle anything and everything. All we have is today’s strength and so we need to meet today with the strength God has provided and allow God to worry about the future while He also heals the past.
As I sit at home, curled up on my living room couch with my pup napping in the sun I am overwhelmed by the amount of things I need to get done during my 10 days in VA. But then I catch myself and must remind myself that all I have to do is give TODAY by best shot. The rest is up to God and He will provide the strength needed to power through this big mess of a life that we all live. Our big messes (and our little ones too) require the mighty strength of a big God. What a wonderful thing to know – that we serve a BIG God who loves us enough to provide us with strength daily and to help us clean up our BIG messes!
Merry Christmas to you and yours!
“I am aware that I am less than what some people want me to be, but most people are unaware that I am so much more than what they see.”
“Sometimes the hardest lessons to learn are the ones your soul needs most. I believe you can’t feel real joy unless you’ve felt heartache. You can’t have a sense of victory unless you know what it means to fail.”