The Phone Call

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I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty intelligent person. One of my favorite stories to tell is of an incident that happened in my sophomore year of college. I had decided to take a sociology elective, but I couldn’t seem to find the time to read the major book assigned to us. I mean, between socializing, reality television and taco night in the cafeteria, my schedule was PACKED! Later in the semester, I wrote an essay on the book (I still hadn’t read it) using only the information I had gleaned from class discussions. A few weeks later my professor hands me back my essay (with “A+” written on the top) and commended me in front of the entire class for my insights.

I share all that to say that, since I was a kid, this school thing has come pretty easily for me. I may not be the prettiest girl in the room, or the most talented, but I’ve always considered myself to be the smart girl. I let that define me for a very long time. This was my reality until I entered graduate school, where everyone around me seems to be my intellectual superior. Since I’ve been here, my identity as the “smart girl” has been shaken and that’s really scary.

It all came to a head a few nights ago, when after days of struggling through a very late draft of my dissertation, and reading a not-so-patient e-mail from one of my committee members, I sat in front of my laptop, immobile.

And then the phone rang. I picked up.
 
“Jael?”
              
My heart sank as I heard the voice on the other line. It was the head of my dissertation committee. This is the phone call I had been anticipating for a very long time, where I envisioned he’d finally say, “GET OUT OF HERE, SILLY GIRL! You’re not smart enough to do this! I can’t believe you wasted everyone's time!”
 
“Hi Doc.” I finally said, feeling a lump begin to form in the back of my throat.
 
“I just wanted to call you to let you know that everything is going to be ok. I’m here to help you. Just work hard and call me if you have any questions. You’re going to get through this, ok?”
 
I don’t remember how I managed to end that conversation, but when it ended, I began to sob. It was the first time in a very long time that I felt hope regarding my project.
 
I said a prayer of thanks and asked God to open my eyes to the pain of those around me.
 
Just a few moments ago, I got off the phone with a friend who is struggling with a personal issue.
 
The conversation began something like this:
 
“Hey, it’s me. I just wanted to call you to let you know that everything is going to be ok…”
 
"Encourage each other and build each other up..." (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NLT).