Timely Encounters

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings
You are my everything and I will adore You, I will adore You.
-“Revelation Song” by Kari Jobe

      In a dark room, a brightly lit screen displayed these lyrics. Some of us had our heads
bowed. Some of us had our arms in the air, reaching toward the Heavens above. Some of us
kneeled in prayer with our foreheads touching the ground. We all claimed to adore the Lord God
Almighty, our King of Kings who made all creations that were, that is, and is to come.
While everyone was deep in worship, tears streamed down my cheek. I wasn’t exactly
sure why, but I knew it had something to do with my life priorities. At the time, I was a senior
whose life revolved around completing a history thesis. I was struggling to figure out whether I
wanted to go to law or history graduate school in the future. Fear gripped me, and I decided that
I would pour in “my everything” into writing this thesis.
     Each time I went to Chi Alpha and worshipped God, I felt him gently nudging me to let
him embrace and take care of me. I knew that he wanted to be part of the process because he had
been integral in some of my creative works. Although I had previously experienced how
thrilling and humbling it is to partner with him, I did not want him to be creator of my thesis. As
silly and foolish as it sounds, I wanted to be its sole writer and creator.
     Each day, my schedule was planned down to the minute about which section I would
complete for my thesis. A typical schedule would be as followed: 9 am to 11 am was dedicated
to researching and organizing. 11 am to 1:00 pm was time to make lunch and relax. Anywhere
between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm was time to attend class or meet with my advisor or my three
trustworthy Hume tutors. 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm was my designated nap. 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm was
making dinner. 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm was my dinnertime. From 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm was reading
time for other classes. 9:00 pm to 2:00 am was my writing time. And then I would sleep. The
day repeats.
     Despite having this planned regimented schedule, I could never adhere to it strictly and I
was considerably considered behind my advisor’s suggested schedule. At the start of spring
quarter, I still had to finish the least developed chapter in my thesis, transform my previous
Writing in the Majors paper into a thesis chapter, rework my two chapters on Claudia Jones, and
write my introduction and conclusion. It seemed like no matter how much work I attempted to
do by myself, I was drowning in quicksand.
     To complete my work, I started to skip bible studies because I knew that God would
understand that I was too busy and I would resume once I had things under control. Again, I
wanted God to understand that the thesis was my creation rather than to acknowledge his
omnipresence and his greatness. He quickly showed me how naïve I was in building up walls
that were transparent to him.
      The week before my thesis was done, I had managed to write my two chapters on Angela
Davis, rewrite my chapters on Claudia Jones, and write my introduction and conclusion. I
thought I was done a week earlier and all that was left were the dread footnotes. However, my
advisor told me that she believed that my thesis had evolved since I wrote my first chapter,
making forty pages of my thesis completely irrelevant. Not only that, she also believed that I
could establish a more coherent narrative structure to better unify my work. I was absolutely
devastated to say the least. To top it off, I became sick that week.
     Unlucky me caught the stomach flu, and I was unable to stomach food for a couple of
days. Although I made a schedule to work on my thesis, most of my days went to sleeping
because I was too exhausted and sick to work. In the middle of the week, I had this sudden urge
to go to Coho. I didn’t think they had any food that would make me feel better, but I decided to
follow this desire that appeared out of nowhere (or so I thought).
     As I walked past the entrance, I ran into Adrienne and her friend. Instantly, I felt the
warmth of the Chi Alpha community that I had been neglecting to finish my thesis. It surprised
me how happy I instantly became because I had imagined that I would feel incredibly guilty and
condemned for ignoring God. Adrienne asked me how I was doing, and I vented about my thesis
and my poor health. I told her I had not been able to stomach food for three days, and I had no
idea how I was going to have the energy to finish the daunting task ahead of me. She simply
asked if she could pray for me, which I graciously accepted. Adrienne and her friend prayed that
the next meal would nourish me and spark my recovery. She prayed that the ideas for my thesis
would flow without any barriers. Her prayers were answered and showed me God’s grace,
goodness, and love.
     As Adrienne had prayed, the vegetarian pasta dish with the added grilled chicken was the
first meal I ate in three days that stayed in my stomach. I felt so energized and was able to
completely focus on my work for the next three days. I rewrote an entire chapter that my advisor
deleted in a day and made major revisions. I finished all of the major writings by Saturday and
left Sunday for the works cited page, citation, and edits from my secondary reader.
     Although this seemed like sufficient time, I experienced another huge obstacle, and it was
God that carried me through in the end. I had diligently cited all of my work, but I still needed to
properly format everything. I had finished the citations for four of the six chapters by nine at
night. I just needed to go to the printing place by 5:00 am to bind my thesis so that I can turn it
in before 12:00 pm. However, due to my lack of sleep for a couple of days, I could hardly finish
formatting the last two chapters, and I still needed to incorporate edits for my secondary reader
and make a title page.
     Around 1:00 am in the morning, I realized that I was not even done, but I was a couple of
thousand words over the word limit. I felt so broken and disappointed in myself. I was in
complete tears, and my body was shaking uncontrollably. I woke my best friend Sharon up and
pleaded her to help me. She was unbelievably understanding and stayed up with me the entire
night. She made me tea, helped me format my citation, helped incorporated edits I made, and
deleted whatever I needed from the works cited page. At 5:00 am, she drove me to the post
office, and we printed and bounded the thesis. At around 10:30 am, I turned in my thesis to the
history department. A few hours later, I received a congratulatory email from my thesis advisor
and learned in our meeting that day that I got an A and received High Honors.
     On the way home on what seemed like a never-ending day, Adrienne texted me, and I
called her. I shared with her my healing process, the adversities I faced during my final hours of
the thesis process, and the incredible love Sharon gave me. Adrienne told me that for some
reason when she met up with Brittany, the first thing that came out of her mouth was “Pray for
Olivia.” We were both in awe of how gracious God is to us during times we felt our weakest and
most vulnerable.
     God made it so clear to me that even though I wanted the thesis to be my own creation,
He showed me his love through so many different people. He gently taught me how He wanted
to be included in the process and revealed to me how many people supported me without my
knowledge, reiterating the importance of selfless love. Although the thesis writing experience was one where I isolated myself and became lost, He found me, his lost lamb, and adored me.

Thank you God for everything.

– Olivia, Class of 2016

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