So I'm done with my defense. I'm graduated from school. I'll walk at commencement in May but I am finally done with this chapter of my life. My defense went really well! I wrote in my last blog post that I was afraid of the presentation...that it might just highlight my inadequacy and unpreparedness but it actually was the opposite. It went pretty smoothly and I got so many more compliments on the presentation and on my slides than I got difficult questions.
|I made all these tabs for almost no reason. I used one of them to answer a question. Better prepared than not.|
So I feel a little bit... strange. I know a HUGE milestone was put behind me but now I feel as though I have another daunting task set before me... and that is to study for boards and PASS. I'm not good at studying. It's not my favorite thing to do. And there is SO much material to go over. I groan just thinking about it. Anyway... so I am not exactly enjoying my newfound freedom because... there really isn't much of a difference. When one thing is done, the next thing comes up. And... I also had a little thing that I placed at higher priority last week than studying for boards.
On March 8, 2014, I was the speaker at a women's brunch, hosted by a church that I kind of have very little affiliation with. Not so coincidentally, my cousins go to this church but I think that they were placed strategically for my comfort and support more than anything else. I will go back and tell this story from (more of) the beginning.
On my birthday this year, a good friend of mine asked me if I would be interested in being a speaker for a women's brunch. She said that a good friend of hers asked her for a recommendation on a woman-speaker and my friend said that mine was the only name that came to mind. I can't remember what I was thinking in the moment. What do I ever think when I get presented with these kinds of situations? Oftentimes, I'll just say "sure" at the moment knowing that there's a high likelihood that things will fall through or that nothing materializes... but let it not be because Tiff said "no" upfront. I think part of what really happens is that I don't exactly count the cost. I get myself into situations like... going to grad school... because in one moment of time, it seemed like a good idea... but I never really think about the consequences of it until I'm already in it and committed. Go figure. I'm a weirdo like that.
The last time I remember being presented with a similar situation was when a friend of mine recommended me to be a retreat speaker for a college women's retreat in San Diego. I think when I was approached by this friend, I thought to myself, "oh that sounds cool... sure, let's start the process". I somehow didn't think about the fact that saying "yes" doesn't just mean that I'm agreeing with a good idea. It also means that I need to prepare and plan. And being a retreat speaker is no small task. I think a little bit of time passed before I asked the retreat coordinator, "so... how many messages do I need to prepare?" and when she said, "4"... I think that's when I began to freak out a little bit. One message, I could kind of BS, but to speak in front of the same group of women 4 times? How was I going to get this done? Thinking back on it now... I met up with a pastor friend and presented my ideas and I got his feedback. I think it was in a moment of divine inspiration that God gave me the structure for my messages at that time: (1) share my testimony, (2) God loves us, (3) I love God, (4) I love others. Not coincidentally either... that retreat fell on Valentine's weekend so I was already thinking about the topic of love. What I prepared for that retreat... has taken on deep meaning in my own life and those 3 things are points I come back to repeatedly now. It's how I organize my life. Saying yes to that retreat was not only for them. I doubt that any of them remember me much or remember what I shared with them, but I remember.
|The 7 Tiffs|
Have you ever been to a retreat where there were 15% of the people in attendance had the same name as you? Yes, friends. Seven Tiffs were at this retreat.
K, I've spent enough time reminiscing about this and I've got to get back to studying about medical heart failure... but I was motivated to blog this morning by today's Bible reading. I read in Exodus 24 about how God called to Moses out of the cloud on Mount Sinai... where His presence was seen like a fire over the mountain. And Moses walked right into the cloud. What is in the cloud? Maybe from outside the cloud it looks like darkness and uncertainty... and maybe some trials or the "unknown"... I don't know if this little "tea talk" was just the mist that precedes the actual cloud... but where God is calling me and where I'm walking into... is going into God's presence. Whatever will happen inside that cloud... as I'm covered with His presence... will be awesomeness and amazingness... and things too wonderful for me to know.
I'm a crier. I cry a lot. Apparently, I have a lot of meltdowns as well. I don't walk into any of this with full confidence that I can conquer any of it. I walk into it broken and fearful... and very, very aware of my own unworthiness. But also in today's Bible reading was Paul's letter to the Corinthians.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 ESV)
In my weakness, Jesus has the opportunity to shine through it. There are moments when I know I cannot do it alone. There are moments when I cry out to God because I have no respite, no peace...when I am struggling to stay above water to keep from drowning...and I cry out and He brings rest and peace and strength to go on. To be kept in a state of constant reliance on God is not a bad thing. It doesn't feel lovely on one end but on another...intimacy with God is a prize that exceeds the value of any peace or happiness this world can provide. Loneliness, singleness, stress, being overwhelmed with demands and expectations, hurts, pains, and anything that makes my heart cry out...brings me that much closer to God and in Him is perfect peace irregardless of today's circumstances. Or yesterday's.Or last week's.
Will I ever get to a point when I DON'T have a meltdown before sharing in front of a group of people? I have no idea. Will I ever get another chance to share like this again? Who knows. Only God knows. I see how each time, the feats get a little bit bigger and the crowd gets a little bit scarier. I can only wonder what this "tea talk" is preparing me for in the future. Regardless though... the message I prepared for the women at this talk IS something that I needed to solidify in my own life. I am beautiful and I am worthy...because I am loved by God.
To all the women from the retreat in SD... you may have moved on with your lives and you may have forgotten me by now... but I have not forgotten you and the lessons that God taught me through the circumstances by which we met. And now to all the women at the women's brunch in Glendale... you may not remember me a year from now or recall what I said... but I will remember and I will keep the lessons God taught me close to my heart. Because of you I may have had major meltdowns but also because of you, I learned how much God loves me and how far He will go to care for me and comfort me. Saying yes to you meant saying yes to God. Thank you for the opportunity and thank you for the tears. And to all my family and friends who always support me through whatever craziness I tend to find myself in... thank YOU for your love. Alright. Too smooshie. Back to studying.
much much love,