• Edwin Lin

Struggles of a Sheep: Part 1

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Over the past several weeks, I have been transitioning to working at Berkeley for 87% of full time. This amounts to what feels like nearly full-time work, between my class time and office hours, grading people's papers, commuting up to Berkeley, and ministry work. It has been a solid five weeks now, so probably more like six weeks, since I have been hired and probably about four weeks since I have gotten comfortable and have a much better sense of my day-to-day. Actually, this week will be my first week that is truly going to resemble what the rest of my semester will be like.

It has been a tumultuous past four to six weeks. Some weeks have simply been crazy where for roughly three days, I have little sleep and am constantly moving from one thing to the next. There have been days where I literally am working the entire day from when I wake up to when I go to sleep. I've missed a couple meals here and there also due to work.

Yet at the same time, there have been times when I am utterly free. I work Tuesdays to Thursdays, so a few times over this stretch, I try to "recover" from my busyness on Thursday nights and Fridays--it sometimes spills over into Saturday.

Even weekends have been busy, with great social celebrations and ministry-focused activities, but I definitely have felt exhausted at the very thought of weddings, mini-groups, birthdays, and church activities. Of course, every time I attend these events, it is great and I have a good time, but at the same time, my introverted self rejects the happiness and enjoyment and remains utterly spent.

Over the course of this transition, I have felt on the one hand happy and excited to be involved in my new job, but on the other hand, constantly exhausted and tired, without ever entering true rest. I think perhaps last night was one of the best nights of rest I had (I woke up 30 minutes late and didn't remember at all whether or not my alarm had gone off) over the course of the entire six weeks! I try all kinds of methods to escape my tiredness, some healthy and some less so. I play games, watch shows, eat food, try to sleep early, read books, stay on top of my tasks, exercise, etc. I keep thinking that if I just get the right combination of activities or make the right decisions, I will find rest. Yet nothing has fulfilled my thirst.

At first, I thought that this tiredness and my difficulties and struggles with this transition was because of the up and down nature of my weekly life. I have such intensely busy and exhausting days, sometimes weeks, on the one hand, while such empty open days (at times) on the other. I thought, "I have no balance and no stability in my weekly routine." But the more I thought about it the more I realized that I don't think this has anything to do with it. I guess I just realized that balance wasn't all that important to me, and that I usually preferred this way of life--that in fact, I often liked the feeling of having little to do in a day and having space to my life. After all, isn't a four-day weekend every week a good thing? Usually, this brought rest, even amidst hectic weeks.

But now, I am starting to think that something deeper is going on here. Yes, my circumstances matter and they are the catalyst for my desires to escape, my thirst to find rest, and my feeling of being trapped and unable to feel free. Yet in many ways this is a pattern of my life in general: how many times have I felt this way when even for one week I am extraordinarily busy? How many times have I approached busyness with a desire to run, with a thirst for something more, and with a feeling of no freedom?

Yes, something deeper is at play here. And it is showing itself in my complete inability to find what I need in God--in my inability to Trust God with my life, to live in the present, and to rest in Him.