By Andrea E.

Years of Living in the Space Between

2016: looking forward

In the next twelve months, I will, God willing, travel to Indonesia. I will, God willing, obtain a job offer, finish my experiments, publish several papers, write a thesis, and graduate.

I may travel to Afghanistan. I may become engaged — or I may see a promising relationship end. I may be facing a change of identity — in a year I will move from graduate student to post doc or even newly minted Assistant Professor of Food Safety at an as-yet-unknown university. I may face a more literal change of identity, if I get engaged, and if negotiations for keeping my maiden name fail.

In this swirling sea of possibilities and unknowns, I am still called to do the thing before me. To live in the now rather than then maybe. To love the people in front of me and do the tasks set to me.

2018: looking back

In the past two years, I have finished my PhD. I have married, and yes, given up my maiden name. I have moved across the country to the West Coast. I have started over in a big city. I have known no one and felt helpless to dent the poverty and brokenness around me. I have been jobless. I have tutored. I have adjuncted. I have applied for jobs. I have obtained a job offer as an Assistant Professor. I have written grants. I have published papers. I have traveled to Indonesia. I have traveled to Europe. I have hiked. I have backpacked. I have seen my younger sister’s dreams crushed again and again by mental illness and my older sister bruised by the turmoil of postpartum disorder. I have seen my parents grieve for their children. I have reckoned with my own mental health. I have learned to lean on my husband.

In all this, I have tried to live in the now rather than the maybe. I have infrequently succeeded. I have tried to love well the people in front of me. I have done the tasks set to me. I have seen that God has gone with me, that he has been the constant in the chaos, the lover of my soul, and the strength of my heart.

2018: looking forward

In the next twelve months,

I will move back across the country to the East Coast. I will likely travel to Chile with my husband, before I say goodbye to him as he deploys across the world. I will start a new job as an Assistant Professor — my dream job, a job God provided unexpectedly.

I may hire a graduate student. I will almost certainly hire undergraduate researchers. I may have my grant application funded. I may not. I may travel to Kenya to help a dear friend with development work. I may welcome a niece or nephew into the world. I may find excellent friends in my new home, or I may be bitterly lonely.

In this swirling sea of possibilities and unknowns, I am still called to do the thing in front of me. To live in the now rather than the maybe. To love the people in front of me and do the tasks set to me. The same God who has gone with me the past two years — and long before — will go with me to Vermont and with my husband to his post. God will be the strength of my heart and my song in the night, the lover of my soul and the constant in the chaos, for he is the Father, and he is good.

About the Author

Andrea E. will be starting as an assistant professor at a land-grant university in New England in 2019. Her research focuses on food safety and food microbiology. In her down time she enjoys hiking, reading, and writing about science, food safety, and faith.

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