colleagues

It’s weird growing up. At some point, you hit a threshold where the people who you always respected as your elders become your colleagues. I would use the word “equals” instead, but that’s not what I mean to imply. Whether younger or older, I’ve always seen those people who I respect as my equals, but I have always considered myself subservient to them (when I say subservient, I really do mean, servant – not in the sense of a housemaid but in the sense of a person who serves others). Like it says in Phillipians 2:1-4, we treat others as better than ourselves because we are of one mind, one mold. 

On orientation day for optometry school, one of the speakers talked about how he really wanted to see us O1/first years really get involved with the political arena of optometry. Another professor mentioned “One day, you will no longer be our students. In four years, you will be MY colleague.” Yes, I meant to capitalize the word MY. Somewhere between graduating from college and starting graduate school, the world shifted its view of me and its expectations. This past week, O1/first years were invited to attend a TSO sponsored dinner where we were able to converse and mingle with Houston area private practice owners. Before attending, I had a friend who said, “I don’t really like small talk.” On many counts, I can say the same for myself – it feels shallow, and networking is a necessary evil. However, I don’t really have a choice, because all these super successful people who have made it through the trenches of optometry school and somehow managed to open up their own practice, braving the storms of taking out massive loans and sacrificing any semblance of free time for the next 10 years… <insert transition from a run on sentence> These people treat me as their colleague, and they have and will continue to maintain expectations of me about my posture, character, dedication, and communication. And to be honest, it’s joyfully overwhelming. 

Small group at church takes small spin; all the guys are older I am (as are the girls), but I’m slowly simmering into the community. At church, it’s not so much about being the youngest one as much as it is about figuring out if and how I fit with this group of guys. They game a lot more than I do, have more free time, and spend more time with their significant others. Did I also mention they also all work? That’ doesn’t bother me much though. I just feel unsettled knowing they’re in a different stage of life than I am, but everything shared is also insightful because I always have a lot to learn from them. Personally, I feel like because I am the youngest one there, I have the most to prove (I don’t think they actually think of me this way, but I think of myself this way). I have potential that is uncorked and unknown by the community around me (probably just my pride talking) because no one who I’m at church with currently knows my past and what I’ve accomplished. In contrast to the perceived expectations from my “colleagues” I at school, the expectations from people at church seems peacefully underwhelming. 

Tomorrow, I will be attending the wedding of two people who I respect dearly. One is my discipler in college and the other was a camp counselor who I met as a high schooler. I’ve lost touch with my discipler since moving to Houston mostly because of the busyness of life, but this man guided me for the better part of the last 3 years of my life. I owe him a lot, starting with that verse I referenced earlier. I’ll post it for you here.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

He taught me how to care for others by treating me as his equal, lifting me up for my sake. Our dis-skype-pleships were never focused solely on Epic, but instead on me. He modeled for me what it meant to do life with your disciples because he walks in the footsteps of Jesus. My debt to him is worth more than any wedding gift. He always treated me as his equal, but somehow my relationship with him feels the most weird. More so than the relationship I have with my small group and even more so than the ones I have with my colleagues. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I don’t really know what he expects of me. The rest of my life has transitioned dramatically (setting, community, profession, education, finances) but somehow things with him don’t seem to have lost a step. I mean, losing touch with someone you care about is never preferred, but when I see him tomorrow, i will feel like we will converse like nothing’s changed. The weird thing is i feel like if I only saw him once a year for the next 20 years, things still wouldn’t change. I would still respect him just as much as much (if not more) as I do right now, looking forward to meeting up with my equal. I would seek opportunities to serve him, support him, and pray for him. 

My relationship with my discipler is special. Or it was, depends on your preferred tense. While the rest of my life is moving swiftly along, this one part of my life seems to be exactly where it’s supposed to be. I still don’t know what he expects of him, but for whatever reason, I don’t really think expectations matter with him. He has done exactly what scripture dictates should be our manner of servitude. At least for one person in my life, I hope that area doesn’t change. 

Thanks Jonathan.

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