Setback or Blessing?

I met with my thesis advisor and one of the readers on my panel yesterday to discuss the state of my dissertation. The question that had the most emotional impact came when my reader asked, “How important is it that you graduate this May as opposed to next May?”

He suggested that I take a deep breath, give myself eight more weeks, revisit the entire dissertation based upon the conversation we had during that meeting, and plan to defend in May or June. That way I won’t feel the pressure of having to get it turned in by March 1st and I can make it really good. I learned a great deal about the real nature of a PAR dissertation and how I am still missing some key components.

Of course, every fiber of my being was internally screaming, “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!” My plan is to be DONE, so I can move on. My advisor told me that she has seen me turn things around very quickly, and that I’m closer to finished than perhaps I think. So, she held out a glimmer of hope that I could finish on my time table.

Hmmm… My time table. This morning I wrote a devo on Matthew 18:1-9 and tonight I will preach a sermon on that same passage for Ash Wednesday. Jesus said, “unless you humble yourself and become like one of these little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

For whose Kingdom do I strive, again? Who called me to this PhD? Whose time table do I follow? Does it really matter if I rush to finish and walk this May, or give myself a little more breathing room, finish when I’m actually finished, and wait until next May to “walk the platform?”

Honestly, it doesn’t really matter. It’s not like my job depends on it, or my family desperately needs me to have three silly letters after my name, or somehow the fact that I wore a goofy hat and had the magic academy dust sprinkled on me will make me a better teacher and servant of God’s mission in the world.

So, I will work diligently, managing work at Grace on one hand and finishing this paper on the other. If I finish in time to walk this May, wonderful. If not, so be it. Perhaps this is my version of becoming like a child. Word to the preacher…be careful what you preach. 🙂