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What the Doctoral Journey Has Taught Me about Myself: Navigating the Challenges and Triumphs

I've just submitted my final paper for the quarter, and I feel compelled to document my reflections on this doctoral journey. It's a way to process and release the emotions tied to this last semester.

Earning a doctorate is challenging—not in the way that doing 50 crunches at the gym is hard, but more like running a marathon without any apparent reason. There's a distinct quality to self-imposed challenges that sets them apart from the trials life throws at us, where we often have no choice but to endure. Throughout this journey, I frequently questioned my decision to pursue this particular brand of hardship. Was there another path to make the impact I envisioned, aside from this doctoral endeavor?

Truthfully, I could likely have made a significant impact without the doctorate, but not in the manner I aspire to. This realization dawned on me due to the rigorous analytical detail demanded to successfully complete a doctoral degree. I'll be candid: I graduated with honors from my undergraduate and graduate programs without exerting extraordinary effort. Reading syllabi, textbooks, and assignments was part of my routine, and I had mastered the formula for securing 'A's. However, the doctoral journey demanded more—more analysis, more research, more revisions, and more adherence to APA style than I ever imagined.

This journey has been both incredible and unbelievable. It has made me a stronger advocate for my son, Manny. The perseverance needed to research, write, edit, and attend to details in a doctoral program has proven invaluable in navigating the complexities of Manny's health, academic needs, and advocacy. Tackling something I once deemed unachievable has shown me that I can also address Manny's needs in ways I previously thought impossible.

The process has also transformed me into a better preacher. The depth of analysis, detail, and research I now bring to sermon preparation far exceeds my capabilities before this journey began. I've learned that informed opinions, grounded in deep research and study, hold more weight than mere hunches. Earning this doctorate has aligned my instincts with research and facts, enabling me to speak with greater confidence and authority.

Embarking on this doctoral journey has highlighted a divine truth: God qualifies those He calls. While I initially believed my entry into education was somewhat accidental, I've come to understand it was a deliberate choice. Education, whether in higher academia, K-12, or within the church, is my calling. The PhD signifies not just an academic achievement but a spiritual affirmation of God's plan for me.

If you feel a nudge towards tackling a daunting challenge because something deep within you insists on it, I encourage you to step forward with faith in Christ. Yet, be prepared for it not to be easy. There will be tears and moments of doubt, questioning if you've truly heard God's voice. I've been there, wondering why I would embark on this demanding path while my son was still in the NICU. However, this intellectual and personal growth has not only been fulfilling for me but has also made me a better mother to Manny. Though I sometimes wonder if he minds the hours spent in front of my computer more than playing with him, I believe the journey benefits us both. I'm not sure how Tishe feels about it, though; I think he would prefer I stop and play with him and the legos.

His yoke is easy. His burden is light. <3


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