As my time in graduate school is coming to an end, I find myself reflecting more and more on the journey that my family and I have been on the last three years. At the beginning of the program, this didn’t seem like a significant step to be taking. I was, in fact, a little underwhelmed at the beginning because it felt like going back to college, but without all the excitement of a brand-new beginning. Going back to school felt like returning to an old habit.
Slowly, the intensity began to pick up pace, and two years later, I found myself in the last year of the program, starting my internship year. This was exciting! I was getting to use all the skills that I’d learned in the last two years! This was going to be exhilarating; how could this year possibly be the hardest of the program? Well, I found out. Internship takes a lot of time, and energy. As the year has progressed, I’ve noticed that I’ve slowly sequestered myself as I push through to the end. Slowly, people have started getting just the bear minimum of what I can give; they’ve been getting my leftovers, which is not a great feeling for the giver or the receiver.
This tactic has also meant that I’ve been easily knocked off course when anything, as small as it may be, doesn’t go according to plan. And this is when I find, even though I feel guilty about giving people my leftovers, I am being blessed by leftovers. Leftovers! The very thing that I feel guilty about giving to my friends and family, my leftover, piecemealed time and energy. It may not look great anymore; it’s definitely not exciting; it’s the very thing that has sustained me through this year of internship.
“Leftovers,” you may be thinking, “what’s the point?” Psalm 23:1 says that God leads us through green pastures. When David was writing that psalm, he wasn’t in West Michigan, where green pastures are really, very green and rich with sustenance. He was in the Ancient Near East, which is more like little tufts that have maybe just a few mouthfuls of grass. Just enough to sustain. When I think back on this past year, I begin to think about the difference between a pasture in West Michigan and a pasture in the Ancient Near East; I didn’t have the time or capacity to enjoy the rich, abundant blessings of a West Michigan pasture. Small tuffs of grass on the other hand, were life giving and lifesaving.
All of these leftovers came in small amounts that I could handle. A spontaneous walk with a friend. A gift card for one cup of coffee. A husband who’d take the dog for a walk while I got dinner started. Learning the discipline of budgeting time and resources to withstand surprises that would pop up. Gracious professors extending a deadline. A supervisor helping me work on reframing my own view of life. A flexible job that was willing to let me pop in and out.
Coming to the end of my year of internship I find myself thinking of a song by Joy Williams called, “All I Need”. Some words in the chorus are, “All I need, I may not be everything I want, but I’ve got all I need.”
This is true; my cup hasn’t been overflowing with blessings, but it has been continually filled. In a culture that says you are failing if you do not have excess, this has been a refreshing lesson to learn. Blessing in the forms of leftovers. I have always liked leftovers, but now, I also appreciate leftovers.
Audrey has been a counseling intern at Beacon of Hope for the last eight months. She enjoys working with all of her clients, and a sweet spot seems to be working specifically with teens and young adults. In her free time, she enjoys baking, brewing chai tea, and going for long walks.