By Elizabeth Chang
What have I gotten myself into?
This is the question I tend to ask myself when I have a tough day at work. There’s something about this kind of work that tugs at the heart and bares the human soul. There is no escape from facing the realities of living in a broken world where innocence is lost or even stolen at the expense of young children. At times, there is not much else I can do but sit in the mess and embrace with compassion the people who live in it daily. This is the kind of work that calls for a great deal of hope.
I have been on this learning curve for less than four months, and I have asked myself, “What have I gotten myself into?” more times than I can remember. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Each time I catch myself thinking about this question, I find myself (eventually) responding with a deeper sense of commitment to continue on this journey with passion and persistence. At least, that’s how it’s been thus far.
So, what else can I get myself into? (Read as: What can a graduate student budget that has limited time, money, and emotional energy afford?)
The art and discipline of having fun.
Having fun is an art. I am single, I don’t have any kids or pets, I live alone, and I am living on a grad student budget (see above). This calls for creativity. I am learning to enjoy new hobbies, picking up old ones, playing with other people’s kids and pets, engaging with God in new ways, and laughing with friends every chance that I get.
I think there is an incredibly beautiful quality about the art of having fun, both alone in the presence of God and in community with other people. The joy that comes from good company brings restoration to the soul, and healing to the mind and body. Personally, I have a deep appreciation for the vulnerable honesty of robust laughter, and the humble exchange of loving presence.
And, what a discipline this is! It is so easy to get caught up in a busy schedule, or excuse myself “because I’m on a grad student budget.” But, what about joy? What about the fun in the simple expression of gratitude?
“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3
When is the last time you’ve laughed so hard that your stomach hurt? Or, the last time you smiled so wide that your cheeks hurt? I recommend taking up the art and discipline of having fun.
How do you have fun?
Elizabeth Chang is getting an MFT (Marriage and Family Therapy) degree at Seattle Pacific University. She graduated Taylor University with a BA in Psychology and Biblical Literature, and was raised in New York City.