Finishing a doctorate is glorious and wonderfully freeing (see previous post). But it's amazing how quickly reality sets in after a brief moment of victory. One set of goals is replaced by another and the challenge of navigating along the unmarked, foggy road of a DPhil is followed by the equally challenging task of locating the next road to take. I am a newbie to the post-viva life and very far from mastering it, but I thought I’d share a few thoughts I’ve had as I get used to this new part of the postgraduate journey. I’d welcome hearing the advice and experience of others who’ve walked this road!
- Trust in God's goodness: I have been reminded that the blessing is in the waiting as well as the receiving for a Christian: it is in 'between times’ that we have the opportunity to trust God in new ways. Waiting and trusting is hard work but it is actually an enormous privilege for Christians! Once He comes through with the next job or the next stepping-stone, I will be shown his goodness (again). Right now, I have the opportunity to trust in his goodness before the gift is in-hand. I’m not very good at this. Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14 (ESV)
- Pray for the unknowns: There are so many unknowns at this stage! Do I stay in academia or do I take an exit-ramp to a regular job? What postdocs do I apply for, and/or, what jobs? There are so many questions and I have the answers to none of them. I can pray for wisdom and ask for God's provision though, and that's a relief. Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Ephesians 6:18 (ESV)
- Work to God's glory in the 'between times': When I spend three weeks working up a proposal to have it rejected in two days, when I am confused what even to apply for, it seems my striving is coming to nothing. I am tempted to dismiss the value of this ‘work’ because it doesn't come with guaranteed results or a pay cheque, but I must remember that God is a master who values faithfulness more than anything. I can work for his glory, even if nobody has paid me for my proposal-writing (yet). I must trust that he brings fruit from my toil, even if it’s only in my heart at the moment. On a practical note, I find it helps to do this sort of work outside of the home and during work hours to show myself that I am being productive, even if not in the ways I'd like! Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Colossians 3:23 (ESV)
Please post if you have any wisdom or experience to share on this period of the academic journey!