(I can’t sleep so I recalled my defense experience. I just wrote it. I haven’t read it again. I’ll be revising it soon).
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” ~ Proverbs 3:5
Believe it or not, Proverbs 3:5 was the first verse I was able to memorize even before I encountered John 3:16. Probably, it’s because the first time I intentionally meditated on God’s Word happened when I read the Book of Proverbs. That’s way back in the early 2000s, and I have never imagined that I would count on the same verse in facing my greatest battle of 2017: my thesis defense.
It took me 1 year and 5 months to finally reach my thesis defense. (The story of my thesis is worth another blog entry, and since I’m still in the process of revising for the submission of the unbound copy, I’d rather share my defense for the meantime).
After submitting my manuscript to my panel two weeks ago, I got literally anxious about my thesis defense. But since I just came from revising the draft from my critic, which is the manuscript I submitted as my defense copy, I was still absorbed with everything, that I decided to breathe for a while.
For one week, I just watched series, read books, surfed the net, worked out, and ate a lot. I even went to an art museum with a friend. I chose to divert my thoughts to other things so that when I got back to my thesis, my mind would be fresh.
After a week, I visited my manuscript again, and I found several corrections that made me feel so sick. I was so terrified of those things, that it felt like I was going to be hospitalized for months.
I talked to few of my closest friends and asked them to pray for me. I literally kept on repeating my request hoping that God will hear my prayers more when more people are praying for me aside from me. There were nights that I wept to God, and like a child, I was telling Him my fears of the unknown. I recalled how He was faithful to me all these years in spite of my unfaithfulness and faithlessness. He has never let me down. Though I prayed, I often stayed late staring at the ceiling or thinking a lot of things while my eyes were closed.
No matter how much I prepared, how much encouragement I got, and how much help from my adviser and critic that I had, I couldn’t help but to doubt and accommodate thoughts that were actually destructive and discouraging. Still, I kept on holding on to God’s promises. I remained hopeful that things would be fine.
After I made my PowerPoint, I texted my adviser about the presentation, and I was shocked that I was only required to make 15 slides and talk about it in 20-25 minutes. But I made 50 slides already, and I was not sure if I could share many things with 15 slides.
On the last three days, I tried to rehearse my piece. As expected, I was having a hard time putting my paper into spoken words. Although I laboriously wrote and revised my paper, I couldn’t elaborate them as easy as I wrote them. I was sure that mastery was not my problem because I knew my thesis by heart. But I was too distracted and apprehended that I felt incapable and unconfident to deliver.
When I couldn’t focus, I even wrote notes in index cards. Once in a while, I bowed down and prayed to God that these things were too difficult for me.
On the day before the defense, I still felt unprepared. I have not mastered my piece yet. When I timed my self, I always went over time or I felt restless in the middle of my practice. When I checked my manuscript, I felt unease with some of my presentation that I even contacted friends to help me verify my work.
I finished everything and I tried to sleep as early as I could but I failed. Like the other nights, I slept at 3 A.M and woke up at 6 A.M. I commenced my practice.
My defense was scheduled at 1 P.M. but I left home by 10:30 A.M. because I had to buy light food for my panel. By the way, I did not ask assistance from anyone although there were some who already volunteered. I always have that feeling that I might feel comfortable if somebody I know would be watching me. So I did everything by my self. I even bought correction tape, which I didn’t know why. I just didn’t have that supply at that moment.
After buying the food, I have a confession to make. That day was the first time I rode a cab in my five years of studying at UP. I couldn’t attempt to sacrifice myself to haggardness. I felt happy (not boastful or proud) showing my ID to the guard. Finally, I was doing it. When I entered the campus, that’s the time the driver and I had a conversation, and he told me that his children were already taking up doctorate degrees. I felt inspired with his story that even when I was alighting his taxi, he continued to share more.
Since no one was there to help me by choice, I prepared the room. That room was my room with one of my cognate subjects. It was very small. I turned on the aircon and the lights, but when I tried to switch on the TV, it never worked. I got the remote control from the guard, and still it did not work. I came back again to seek help, and when the maintenance staff came, he just turned on the switch at the bottom of the screen. I didn’t notice it because I thought that the switch was at the side.
Minutes later, my panel members came one by one until we started. It took me 30 seconds before I began my presentation but the moment I started, there was no turning back. I didn’t know how I did it but I surely believe that God empowered me in the most anticipated and scariest presentation I have ever done. While speaking, my mind was wandering and entertaining several thoughts.
After the defense, it was my third panel member who led the discussion since the other two have alrady scrutinized my work. Few of the things that I was too scared and too worried did not even come out. It happened several times to me already even before this defense. I habitually worry on things that in the end do not happen. Thank God, they didn’t happen.
There were several concerns that we have noted. I tried to answer without being defensive or rude. We discussed on how I can improve my thesis. The changes were minimal but maybe classified as drastic. I was afraid that if I won’t fail, I might even get conditional, which was also not favorable for me.
After the discussion, I was requested to leave the room for their deliberation. I tried to relax but I was both excited and nervous of the possible outcome. I whispered several short prayers. I had faith that I would pass, but with my performance, I wasn’t totally sure.
When my adviser called me in, she asked me if I could still work on my thesis and she asked me if I enrolled for graduation. Like what she did in my outline defense, she was insinuating that I did not pass. It turned out that she was joking again.
I PASSED. PRAISE GOD! I PASSED MY THESIS DEFENSE!
I thank the Lord! He is really an awesome and wonderful God.
My panel congratulated me and we had small talk about some clarifications that I still had. I told them not to change their minds. I remembered that I got food, and I gave it to my panel. When they were giving a sign that they were leaving, I told them to have a photo for remembrance.
I’ll really not forget that day.
Because it’s another day that God showed how he loves me. Jesus saved me as always.