So……long time, no blog. It has been a while since I have posted. Not because I had nothing to write about- (yeah-THAT never happens!)- but I have not had the time and space to process all that has happened these past few months. I graduated from Seminary, and then came home to finish up another school year with my small students. I just sent another class of Pre-K’ers off to Kindergarten, and finally have some time to think about the question many people have asked me since my graduation a month ago…….”So, what’s next?”
A year ago, I would have told you that I would be looking for a ministry job right now. I would have told you that I would be keeping my current teaching job, and looking for an Associate Pastor job on the side. Twenty hours of teaching and thirty hours of Pastoral ministry work, that was my goal for the fall of 2015.
That was before the soul crushing winter of 2015. Ice dam damage, my Mom having mental and physical trauma adjusting to the nursing home, and finishing my Master’s thesis and my last two Seminary classes at the same time almost crushed me. By May of this year, I was experiencing a level of exhaustion that was mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. The weariness was deep, deep down in my bones. My bones actually ached. I was tired of everything, and it truly felt like I would not be able to get my strength back. Ever.
I did though. I did get my strength back. It started to come back the weekend I went down to Washington DC to accept my diploma, with my husband, my dear mother-in-law, (who actually acts much more like a mother), and some very special friends cheering me on. It started to come back when I came home from that trip and found gifts and cards waiting for me on my front porch and in my mailbox. It started to come back when I experienced a few days away; and learned that my Mother survived just fine at the nursing home without me. It started to come back when I first set foot on my beloved Cuttyhunk Island and smelled the beach roses. It stared to come back when my husband and I began to have alone time together, taking long walks on Cuttyhunk and snuggling in the bunk of Oasis with fresh, hot coffee. It started to come back when I realized that I could have actual sabbath every weekend, and not have to work on crossing off items on my giant “to do” list. It started to come back when my life got a lot less busy.
The result of this rebirth in my energy level has been amazing. I am seeing and experiencing serenity and spiritual clarity in a way that I never have before. I am cherishing it, and I don’t ever want to go back to juggling that many things again. I do not want to live an overextended life anymore. Juggling a teaching job and a ministry job would put me right back there. I would be riding that train right back to Busytown. I don’t want to live in Busytown. I want to live in Serenity Springs. Joyful Junction. Prairie of Peace.
Does that mean that I think my life will not have challenges and that it will be calm and quiet all the time? Quite the contrary. The Christianity that my husband and I practice, and the Christianity that I was trained in at Seminary, places a very strong emphasis on community. I believe in community. It is only within the context of community that we can practice the Greatest Commandment, which is to love God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. That can only happen fully in community. Community with God must come first, and then community with others. That means that life will get messy. There will be conflict. There will be crisis. We are all broken. We all come with issues and scars, and when we come into contact with each other, our rough edges brush against each other. That happens in community and that is good. I will not isolate myself from my fellow human beings, but I will allow more space for myself to breathe, rest and be with God. I think that will make me a much, much saner and healthier servant to the people that God places in my life.
Does this mean that I think Seminary was a mistake? No way. No how. I will never think that. The experience of Seminary has been one of the richest, most challenging and helpful experiences of my life. I still believe that I was supposed to be there. I still believe that God called me to accomplish that goal. I also think, however, that He used my overextended lifestyle in Seminary as a learning experience. I see now, the vastly different mindset between a person who is pressed on all sides, and a person who has room to breathe and rest. Both of those people were faithful, believing people. Both of those people were (and are) doing great things for God. I could not be doing the small things, that I am now able to do with great love, if I had not lived my Seminary experience.
I am not saying that I have given up belief in my call. I am saying that I am completely comfortable with fulfilling my call within the context of my seemingly ordinary life. I am in no hurry to try and juggle two jobs, and I am in no hurry to leave my current one. I am much more concerned with finding a church home, where Allan and I can practice our faith in the context of Christian community, than I am about finding an official ministry position. God will work it out. He promises me that in His Word. All I need to do is show up and be comfortable waiting. I am fine with doing that. For now.
One thought on “So……..what’s next???”
Ah, that beautiful peace that surpasses all understanding! Great post, Christine. Your attitude is exactly what all of ours should be: hopeful expectancy for what Christ has in store, matched with peace for the present.