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Saturday, October 15, 2016

I Want A Lot

Psalm 20:1, 4, “May the Lord answer you when you are in distress… May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed” (NIV).

I am an excellent planner, but everybody knows I have these moments (OK, read this, decades) during which I am certain I can accomplish more than any human being actually can.

There have been many times in the past couple of years when I have felt like I either have to choose to be a fabulous mom or a brilliant theologian.  The truth is, I’m probably not either, but if you’ll humor me for just a minute here, perhaps we can all admit that I would like to be both.

Yesterday I spent eight hours in my vehicle.  I promised myself that when I finally landed a job, I was not going to be the jerk who complained all the time on social media about how busy I was and how difficult the schedule panned out.   When I promised myself this, I somehow thought the job was going to be ministry related.  I was going to be a pastor or a chaplain or on staff doing something… anything… at a University.  Never, in all my life, did I think I was going to be singing and dancing for a paycheck in an early childhood setting (or… let’s be real… anywhere…  it just so happens this is the only venue that would ever work for me for this type of vocation).  Everybody laugh.  It was funny.

It is difficult to look at your life and think to yourself, “This is what I always wanted to be doing…  twenty years ago…”  At this stage, oh my goodness, I never would have imagined that I would reach that far back and become “Ms. Yisa” again.  (Not a typo, I have the most precious child in my Friday preschool class who calls me this). 

In these first five weeks, there have been a few rough patches.  There have been a few incredulous moments when I stop to wonder if I’ve lost my mind.  There has been a ton of singing, and I don’t just mean at work.  I sing pretty much everything now.  All day long.  Everyday.  I’ve cried a little bit, but I really need people to understand that it’s not about the job.  My job is actually pretty fun… and I love the kids… and I love the parents and grandparents and babysitters… and I love the music.  In some ways, it’s like living a dream.  But it feels like someone else’s dream… which is OK… because I know whose dream it is.  It’s the dream of 17 year old L.  And I can do it.  I’m even good at it.  But I have to put some boundaries into place that keep me grounded but not pigeon holed.

For months now, my motto has been “Stay the Course!”

At the moment, that means a couple of very specific things.  In addition to my new/old life as an early childhood educator, I am very close to the completion of my M.Div.  As of this second, I still have a 4.0 in the pastoral ministry part of the program.  I would have to really bomb out on my last few assignments (which are already turned in) in the current class to lose that status.  Then I have a week off and just one more seven week session.  I need to finish strong. 

I have a number of tasks that I need to complete in order to be ready to apply for doctoral fellowships for next fall.  I honestly have no earthly idea if I am actually good enough to land such a fellowship, but I am giving it my best shot.  I want to say things like, “A nice, long break would be nice,” but the truth is, if I don’t get in I am going to sob so long and hard that I expect to be unrecognizable.  Anyone who may run into me deserves to know this upfront.  (There are months, yet, to prepare).

The most life giving thing I am doing, right now, is editing essays for a prolific theological blog.  I haven’t talked about it, because I know it is probably the most likely thing that someone looking at this from the outside would suggest as a reasonable “cut” if my schedule is too busy.  But I need this.  I need infrequent synchronous chats and my name on an email list that feels like it matters.  It’s the weird introvert who suddenly needed extrinsic motivation thing.  I don’t know where that came from, but I’m living with it now.

And I need theological conferences.  Because I love them.  And somehow, they give me focus and purpose.

What I do not need is for anyone to think I am less of a person or less of an academic or less of a worthwhile risk, because I also care so deeply about my family it hurts.  And this weekend, it physically hurt, because I was so exhausted when I got home yesterday afternoon that I couldn’t get my paper done in time to make the drive to Quizfest to watch my kids win and my oldest daughter three-peat as the top quizzer.  I feel a little bit sick about it, but it will be OK.  I mean, it has to be OK, because I can’t change it now.         

Balance is hard. 

Balance is hard, and I’m not great at it.  I’m like a steamroller.  I see a task and I push and push and push to completion, sometimes at the expense of everything else around me.  It’s not that I can’t multi-task.  Clearly, I can.  But there is a point at which I max out.  And I’m there.  And I’m going to need a lot of mercy to push through to whatever’s coming next.          

Psalm 116:1-2, “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.  Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live” (NIV).


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