Friday, March 14, 2014

What my Ph.D. Means To Me

Kinda Crazy

I have gotten so many congratulations in the past week and it really means the world to me. Graduate education can be kind of a silent battle, as most people my age are full-time working and people can forget I am still in school. I often get the "You're still in school?" looks and comments. Which I totally understand! 9 years in college---wow! What kind of crazy people do that? Yep, that is apparently me.

Here is a pic from my undergraduate graduation in 2009.

Here is a picture with my husband, mom, and step-dad after my Master's graduation in 2011.

My Dreams

The funny thing is I never had big educational dreams for myself growing up. I never wanted to have a big career. My family laughs and says out of all of the kids, they would have never thought I would be the one with a Ph.D. (and I try not to take offense...ha ha). I just happen to have a sister and step-brothers that are geniuses. So comparatively, I didn't have the "smarts" in the family, or that is what I tell myself:) When I was little, I always said I wanted to be a teacher, but as I grew older, I often felt like I didn't have much motivation, as it seemed as if many of my friends knew what they wanted to "do" or "be."

The things I wanted to be seemed insignificant at the time- I longed to be a wife and a mom. I really didn't have a desire to do anything else. That was where my passion was. I often times felt insufficient in high school and college compared to my friends who wanted to be doctors and nurses and lawyers, and I "just" wanted to be a stay-at-home mom! What was wrong with me?

My dreams from when I was little was to marry my prince charming! Just like in Cinderella:)

What I soon learned was that "just" a stay-at-home mom was an incredible job. Being a wife and mother were the best and hardest jobs I will ever have. Some of my best friends stay at home with their kids and others work, and I am amazed at all each job requires. I fully support working moms and stay-at-home moms. The constant debate about which is harder is a lose-lose battle. They both are incredibly hard. I believe the key is doing what  you feel God is calling you to do, and then following that journey with confidence.

As for me, I am still not completely sure what my calling is- working mom, working wife, stay-at-home mom, housewife. But the thing is-- it really doesn't matter. What I do is not what defines me. I know I will be called "Dr." and that is something I should find pride in. But that is not something I find value in. I wish in our society the question would be, "Who are you?" Rather than "What do you do?" That is what I am interested in. Sadly, I think much of our culture finds their identity in what they do, and I am just not very interested in that. I want to be more interested in the who, rather than the what.

What My Ph.D. Means

Don't get me wrong, I value education but wanted to share with you more of what my Ph.D.
 did and meant for me:

  • It means I have worked very hard. I strive to work willingly at whatever I do, as though I was working for the Lord.
  • It means that I will hopefully have the flexibility to spend more time with my family if I decide or need to work.
  • It means that I had something to keep my mind pre-occupied during cancer, which at times was essential to my emotional health.
  • It means that I am able to help marriages and families even more effectively.
  • It means I have learned essential components of healthy relationships that will aide my family and future family.
  • It means I have stayed the course. I have finished this "educational" race.
  • It means I have followed the path I feel like God had planned for me.
The Future

So, when people ask me if I am going to open up a private practice or start a new business, the answer as of right now is "no". As of now, I am just continuing to follow my main passions of being a wife and mom, and trusting that God will show me of what to do from here.

So, my Ph.D. doesn't mean that much to me. It is what it allows me to do that means the most. To have the peace of knowing I followed God's plan for my life and now I sit quietly and wait for Him.

Psalm 61:1-2. "I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from him.
my fortress where I will never be shaken."

Prestige? No. Smarts? No. Title? No. Just thankful for what it allows me to do...continuing to follow God's plan and purpose for my life and my family's life. Yes, I love the Ph.D. initials after my name. But I love the "Mrs." even more. And I can't wait for another second-best title- "Momma." 

Who or What?

Are you defined by what you do? Do people know who you are? I encourage you to really get to know people this week. Instead of just stereotyping them by their title, education, family-life etc... Find out who they are. They are probably dying for someone to be interested.

For you, how can you show others who you are? Do those you work with, eat with, live with, know the real you? Do you know the real you? I can guarantee you- not because I fully know yet, but because the Bible says so, when we invest into who we are, we will be what we are to be. The what will flow out of the who. As our Pastor says often, "We must be in order to do."

Focusing on the "who",


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