Closing a chapter

Whenever I think back, I feel thankful, and amazed. I've been wanting to write this, but unfortunately thankfulness tends to be easily swept away by dissatisfaction.

First impressions - odd, self promoting, and abrupt. I was offended that first day when you asked me what percentile I was, and quickly came to the conclusion that I was playful, wanting to do the minimal amount of work, and clearly anxious because of my legitimate questions. I thought uh-oh. Actually, I was irritated even before we met, with the months long lags between the email correspondence. My fears were confirmed in the following weeks and months with your unorthodox ways, and how you refused to engage in my questions in a straight forward way.

I was plucking ideas out of thin air, attempting to implement them with the active discouragement of those who were supposed to help. And just when the plans were to be executed, the internal strife, the gossip and knowing looks, and your boss pulling me aside and asking me to pick sides. You went away temporarily and the person replacing your role almost didn't want to do what she agreed to do, when she became angry after seeing that you had taken her material. Then, you left unexpectedly in the last few months, and they said I should be okay to sort things out, myself. Not once did I have any direct feedback about the final product from anyone there, or anyone else, until the process was complete and buried. Indeed, perhaps as you've intended, I've learnt much through the process. But to this day I can't decide whether your method was intentional and effective, or whether the free reign (or negligence, depending how you see it) went just a bit too far. You were right, I was anxious. The uncertainty, and how out of my hands the whole process was, disturbed my sleep more than any exam.

I disliked you intensely, but I read God's word and prayed constantly too - avoid gossip, be respectful, reflect God's character, and work as if we're working for God and and not for man. Over time, the interactions changed, rather - God transformed them. Far from perfect, but workable. In the end, you had surprisingly positive comments and well wishes. And I wrote to myself, "I never thought I’d cry at the end of this whole thing. Cry because of his sickness, because I don’t like to see suffering or hear of suffering to that degree even in the person I once loathed. I have to thank God, thank God and only God for helping me have a neutral and eventually positive attitude towards his strange ways. And thank God for him being receptive to me too."

During the time, when all that felt dark and hopeless, I was also hurt and shattered by the intentional lies of someone I trusted, and weaving through the complications that followed. Like Job, I felt God was sabotaging various areas of my life. I wanted to trust God, that he had good plans for us, that he promised to be with us and never forsake us. Much of the time, I probably didn't believe that, but other times, I did. Since there was no consistent guidance, and I didn't know what to do, I always made the comment that God was the one who was guiding me in this work. So when it came to penning acknowledgments, I thanked all the usual suspects, and (after contemplating whether it would be weird and deciding I had to include it) thanked God for giving me the people whom I thanked, and "for being the source of my purpose, strength and guidance each day." I worked, but it was through (or together with?) what God had given me.

I thought that was it, but there was one last thing. And finally when that was complete, we could close that chapter. There's nothing extraordinary in any of this, but walking with God makes ordinary paths (with its ups and downs) special, and when I look back, I'm amazed at the journey and where he's brought me. Although it's tempting to think I did it all myself - see the passage below.

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increases and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions... You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. - Deuteronomy 8:10-18

I stop to remember and record, because it's easy to quickly forget. God wants his people to remember, make a monument, mark the milestone. The Passover feast was to be a yearly reminder to the Israelites of how God spared the Israelites who had the blood of the lamb on their doors, whilst striking the Egyptians (when Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go). Similarly, after the second crossing, God instructed Joshua to command the people to make a stone monument to remind future generations of what had happened.



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