Monday, January 5, 2009

5 Years as a Christian, Going for a PhD

Yes, you read right.
You can tell I'm crazy...

Last Sunday, on Sunday the 4th, I had a party at my house. To celebrate the fact that I was baptised 5 years ago. Yes, its been 5 years already. I remember when I was a baby Christian being all amazed by the guys who had been there 5 years, and even so with those who were 10.
Now, I'm 5 myself, and I'm involved in the life of young Christians. My evangelist is 20 years in the faith and still radical over all that time.
So, how is it to be kind-of-old? Well, its great! Through all this time, I have become more and more aware of God's Grace for me. I have been blessed so abundently in my life, before and after baptism. And I have goofed up and sinned so often in both periods too. Yet, God has enough Grace to keep on loving me. I have given up on being perfect, and I am accepting that truly, His Grace is sufficient, as the Scriptures say (2 Co 12:9):
'But he said to me, "My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.'
The brothers shared movingly too. I was touched when one said that I was impacting because I was ready to face all the hardships that normal Indians have to go through every day just to get to work. Another shared that he was amazed about how I made decisions thinking about God first. Two cases in point: choosing an apartment that is close to the church, when nicer and cheaper options are available closer to work. The other is that I decided to stop using the company bus and went back to the train, even though its more expensive and is more complicated every day, and that because (in part) I was coming too late at church meetings.
Those 5 years have been memorable in many ways.
I have travelled much (Montreal, Switzerland, France, USA and India), moved by the wind of the Spirit.
I have learned much (think about the 2-3 books of mandatory reading for MTP sessions... I miss those!).
I have taught much (conferences on apolegetics, 2-3 messages a week at my peak in Campus).
I have loved much (so many brothers and sisters who have become nearly a part of me).
I have prayed, cried to and supplied Heaven much (but that's still a fraction of what I should).
And I have seen many many changes in my life, by the power of the Spirit.
I have lived more in 5 years than in the 23 that were before it. And I feel I have lived much more than many people have in their whole life.
I am praying for God to give me a long life, so get used to read little introspections like those every 5 years ;)
On other news, I had a conversation with the big boss at my office. Not the CEO, but someone who is only 2 hierarchical levels below... the kind that wear a suit even on Fridays. Ya, that kind of very senior gentleman. I am doing a research job, so getting a PhD is a normal question to have. He told me that I had essentially 2 options ahead of me:
1) stick around for 3 years, then they might send me to do a PhD somewhere that'd be good for my research
2) stick around for 1 year, get confirmed in the company, then start a PhD with a local university, and get various scientists throughout the company to support me before and after.
One way or another, I have to write a research proposal before we move ahead. I'm expecting an easy OK on the proposal, although its possible that he may request more work on solid theoretical foundations.
I'm not looking forward to be still in school at 35, nor do I feel like to give myself a lot of sweating and hardship to do the entrance exams, etc. to get to Harvard, Stanford or MIT. Although getting a PhD from those places is great, it remains that its not a super important goal in my life.
I am vision-driven, and I want to get this project done. And I want to see LOTS of people using it in a professional context. The PhD thing is an extra. It will give me a structure to learn quicker, do my job better and I'll get some recognition for what I did.
I am aware that it will have impact on my job prospects. On one hand plain jobs will be harder to get, and on the other R&D jobs would be harder to get too (since I wouldn't have a top school). I'm not so worried about that. The first case is likely work I wouldn't want to do. The second case may be mitigated by having a good publication record.
And if anyone asks "Why did you get your degree from India?" I can always say "I'm married to an Indian". What, you think I'll stick here 3+ years and stay single?
Don't book your tickets just yet though. I'm praying about all this and consulting the leaders. It'll take nothing short of God's mighty hand to get me married here, for lots of cultural reasons I can't change.

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