Who's in control here?

So this summer I'm gravitating toward memoirs by women who have mastered the self-confident, high-achieving world of academe, and then learned, through medical crises, that they were not in fact in control of their lives, and that they needed help from others, and that that was more than okay, in fact, it was more important than all the intellectual success they could accumulate on their own.

I keep telling myself, and others, that a Ph.D. is not something you put the rest of your life on hold to get, you have to keep living your life at the same time. But I'm not good at remembering that. I keep thinking, "just think of all I could achieve if life didn't keep getting in the way!" But of course, life always gets in the way. If it's not one thing, it's another. People get sick. Their parents get sick. They have kids. Life happens. Fortunately, I seem to be in a program that's humane enough to recognize that reality. But I'm the one who has the hardest time of all getting used to the idea.

The first of these books was Sing Me to Heaven, by Margaret Kim Peterson. Now I'm reading Expecting Adam by Martha Beck.

The part that made me cry the most so far was when Martha was horribly sick but it didn't even occur to her to call any of her friends and ask for help, because she didn't exactly have any of those kind of friends as a graduate student, and Harvard had trained her well never to admit vulnerability. And then, right when she needed it most, an angel thinly disguised as an acquaintance showed up at her door with a bagful of groceries and peace.

Martha describes the "eerie impression that my life was completely under control -- but not my control."

She doesn't know the name of the Being who has her life under control, but she somehow knows that it's beneficent.

This is one of the hardest lessons for me to learn. (Which is probably why I have to keep coming back to it.) My life is completely under control, but not my control. It's under the control of One who is able to do infinitely more than all I ask or imagine. But I keep trying to hold on to control until I'm exhausted from trying to do a job that is infinitely beyond my power and wasn't even my job to begin with, and I fall to pieces and can barely even summon the voice to cry for help.

And then I'm surprised to find angels at my door.

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