Angels and Applications -- Part I


Last spring, in the midst of a torrid long distance love affair with a boy in Scotland, I had an idea. What if I went to the UK....? He couldn't come to the States and we had to be together. (Despite never having met in person. Anyway,) Could I transfer to a university over there? It's the easiest way to get a visa. And, . . . And! I wouldn't have to take more classes, I'd be a research student. Write my dissertation and I'm done! No more Incompletes. Goodbye to that 5 year old burden! Also, I'd be on the same landmass as the boy (a boy he truly turned out to be). It was so clearly a great idea.

I realized this might actually be a way out. A way to escape the unfinished work that taunted me day and night. I had a plan. An exciting plan. I became absolutely elated: flying, my chest warm with joy, my shoulders weightless. Free. This was right. It was divine. I could feel the Spirit rejoicing with me. Maybe this was the miracle I had prayed for. The angels might be on my side afterall.

But. Days later. The doubt rolled in. How could I possibly get in to such a prestigious school? I'm a grad school drop out. I had published nothing, done nothing scholarly. I was out of my mind for considering it. The process terrified me anyway: Ask old professors for recommendations? Track down records and transcripts. Deadlines I'd miss and forms I'd lose. Read through my sad papers to send some for review as proof of my scholarly value? --Only to fail again? No. No way. No. I couldn't bear it. I already suffered daily anxiety attacks. Applying would break me for good. Besides, even if I did get in, I had no money. I wouldn't qualify for fellowships, not enough anyway. It was ridiculous. The whole idea, impossible. It was time for me to behave like a practical, responsible adult, this silliness did not qualify. I should forget it.

I didn't forget it. It stayed there. It nagged me for attention, 'apply, apply, apply'. Two months passed this way, with me not forgetting it. Meanwhile, my Scottish romance fell apart. And I still couldn't let it go, it wasn't about him anyway. Then, my life began to close in around me, each disaster forcing me to the point of despair. I had no other way out, only this one long-shot. I needed to transfer. But I didn't have enough faith to bother.

No matter how much I wanted to deny what I felt that one exuberant night, I couldn't. I knew. The Lord wanted me to do this. So, finally, in April, I had a hopeful thought. There is a back door; if I had a sponsor, a professor who wanted to work with me. When a big deal professor wants you in, you get in. That, I could work on. I would have to know someone. Someone with my same specialization. I searched all the faculty lists in Britain. . . What?. . . No! It can't be. . .

Oh, yes, it was. I knew someone. Probably the best person in the whole world to be there. He's a leading specialist, we work on exactly the same subjects, and he would be an awesome supervisor. I couldn't do any better. We'd met at a conference many years ago. We were both in a group that went out afterward, and he talked to me. We had fun, and quite a bit of flirting. Though it was unlikely he'd remember that, or me. Really,though, what were the chances? I know very few people and have flirted with maybe 3 professors in the last decade. I took it as a sign to move forward. It seemed the angels werewith me.

Besides, I have done the impossible before. I already learned that lesson, this truth: That in order to triumph, you have to step off the cliff into the darkness, the abyss of the unknown, heart in mouth, eyes closed. That's how you reach the glorious heights. You take the leap, and be willing to fall down.

Look out below.

to be continued. . . .

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