“But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”—1 Samuel 30:6b
What is “the dream”?
The past 2+ weeks have been some of the busiest and most frustrating weeks I’ve ever experienced. I don’t quite remember the last time I feel not obligated to study. 5 hours of lecture, 2 hours of lab, and 6-7 hours of studying at least afterwards, every day. Sleep for 5-6 hours. Wake up. Have breakfast. Do your quiet time. And the cycle begins again. And the materials we’re learning never stops. Someone described it as being sprayed with a hose on full blast, and the analogy is an apt one. Quite frankly, I’ve learned more in these 2 weeks of school than I did in a half semester of undergrad.
To make matters worse is the fact that you never feel quite ready. You spend hours and hours studying, but you still feel overwhelmed, like you haven’t memorized enough or spent enough time looking at the diagrams in the anatomy atlas. You begin to mentally compare yourself with other people. You can’t help it; you’re constantly rubbing shoulders with your classmates and since our conversations are always about med school, you feel like you are underperforming, as if every one else is “getting this stuff” and you aren’t. I remember one of my M2 friends telling me not to be “psyched out by other people in your class,” but I can’t help it. No one likes being the guy who looks clueless in front of a cadaver.
Someone asked me a few days ago whether I was living “the dream.” What dream? He laughed. “At least to the thousands of pre-med students across the nation, we are living the dream.”
It was a question that kept nudging at me. Am I really living “the dream”? Because it feels more like a nightmare… A nightmare that I can’t wait to wake up from…
Yes, I have been in that place before. I dreamt about getting into medical school, thinking that I would enjoy every moment of it. When I didn’t get into school, I got frustrated, disappointed, and angry at God. “Why do You keep hindering me from reaching my dream?” I kept asking God. But now that I’m on the other side, I realize that this is far from a “dream.” In fact, I still feel the same emotions: frustrated, disappointed, and overwhelmed.
I guess call this a lesson learned: if ever I set my “dreams” on anything in this world, this will be the result: disappointment, frustration, and anguish. Worldly dreams will fail us. Whether it be a dream job, a future family/spouse, a dream standard-of-living, or a seemingly wonderful workplace. If I set my sights on these things and view them as my “dream,” I will be disappointed.
Instead, I must realize that the real dream that will not disappoint lies in this:
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Heb 11:13-16)
I must learn to have an eternal perspective.