“I have to get out of here”…”I can’t leave this”

Since I wrote about my grad school application anxieties in “Does it Matter if I Get In?” (and the sequel to that post), I have had several occasions where I have thought to myself, “I can’t leave this [to go to grad. school].” Now, it looks as though I do not have to choose whether or not I should leave behind the things I ought to be doing here, and as I predicted in those earlier posts, I was right to anticipate feelings of invalidation.

(A parenthetical prescription: The answer to this feeling is the same: shifting the source of my validation.)

There still a very small chance that I will be admitted into the religion program. Unfortunately, it is likely that this opportunity will present itself with little time for me to mull over the decision. It is likely that I will receive a phone call and they will expect me to respond with my decision on the spot. What will I say?

If I have thought to myself on several occasions, “I can’t leave this,” then does that mean that I ought to stay? I want to go. I see a lot of opportunity in going. There are a lot of exciting things that I would like to do in graduate school. A part of me is even nauseated by the thought of continuing to be in the same place for another 6 months.

Perhaps my desire to be given the choice to go is stronger than my desire to go. I will feel much less like a failure if I chose not to go, rather than failing to receive that opportunity. It sounds so much cooler in conversation to say, “Yeah, I got in, but I decided to stick around ’cause ‘God wanted me to.'” This, of course, is problematic. My pride is irrelevant, and spreading a recognition of the Divine’s Greatness should be the only reason why I would wish to be given such an opportunity. The conversation could go like this, “I got in, and it was an excellent opportunity, but I trust that the Divine desires that I delay my departure.”

If I am completely honest with myself, my desire to go is not particularly rooted in anything but me. When I picture myself in graduate school, it is not as though I am thinking about new opportunities for loving others (most of the time). Instead, I am thinking about challenging courses, exciting philosophers, becoming an intellectual badass, teaching, etc. I day dream about TAing on a regular basis. Sometimes I miss entire classes because I am thinking about how exciting it will be to watch my student’s heads explode when they first understand the problem of induction.

When I think about staying, it is kingdom minded. There are so many relationships that I have not valued properly. There are so many people who I have failed to love well. There are many kingdom-constructing projects that seem to need some attention.

Are the seasons of my life determined by the university’s standards of academic progress? Is the point of my existence to pursue a career and the approval of Ph.D’s? Nay, the seasons of my life are determined by the footsteps of the Loving one. The point of my existence is to “live and move and have my being” in Love. I might not even need a burning bush on this one. Its a no brainer: If I am given the opportunity to go, I will stay.

(A parenthetical petition: God, I would appreciate it if you correct if I am wrong about this one, eh?)

There is, of course, a danger: a part of me still seeks validation from academia. The problem with continuing to seek validation through the approval of Ph.Ds , however, now seems larger than a lack of equanimity. The very things that I feel like I should be doing with my time in Orlando are in danger of continued neglect. It is quite possible that I will simply devote all of my time to bolstering my CV, and care not for the Harvest. May the path to graduate school be blocked if this occurs. Leaving Orlando is only my goal if I have done what I am supposed to do here in the name of Love.

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