Saturday, October 25, 2008

Facing Challenges Together

Meeting with my District Committee on Ministry (seeking approval to continue moving forward toward ordination), visiting some crazy churches, throwing a baby shower, missing long-distance friends terribly, working 40+ hours per week, and working non-stop on upcoming projects and papers: these are some of the things that have made my life chaotic and stressful over the past few weeks.

It is in the midst of this kind of "busyness" that I struggle sometimes to remember that the very things that stress me out are the same things for which I should be most thankful. They are the things I can only have because of how privileged I am. That only upper-middle class educated folks seem to be privileged enough to stress over. That doesn't make me any less stressed, but it does help me to re-focus. To focus on why these very things are blessings that are helping me to grow into a stronger leader for Christ.

Even still, though, I cannot help but to sometimes wonder why we "do this to ourselves." Is education really so valuable that students should be required to live such a draining life to obtain it? It certainly doesn't make it easy for our lives to be "fruitful," or even for it to seem possible to learn 1/3 of what we are expected to... we are instead finding ourselves doing what we must "to get by," making the grade and moving on, checking things off our lists rather than engaging and digging deeper. This bothers me more than anything, because I am as guilty (if not more so) than most of my peers at doing just that... and yet I long to know the many things offered to me.

I know that a year from now, I will think all of the struggles I am battling today will have been worth it, and I will be faced with all sorts of new challenges. But one day at a time is all I can handle for now. I am anxiously working on plans for the future and I am excited to discover which path I will find myself on (as more and more seem to be opening themselves up).

Yet in the interim, I am also seeking space to focus on something new: allowing time and space for lament and sadness and struggle when things really aren't great, no matter how much we want them to be. I can no longer pretend that strangers on death row don't affect me. I can't pretend that friends I love and care about who are out of sight are also "out of mind," so I don't have to worry about them. I can't pretend like the economy or the state of the church or the election or the war don't affect my day-to-day life. Most of all, I have to stop acting as if my faith alone, independent of the faithful community that surrounds me, can hold me up in the midst of trials. Its okay not to be okay. In fact, it is critical to growth to allow for days like that. I know that a lot of what I am most struggling with now will not be resolved for several months. Yet I also know that allowing for this much-needed time, space, and prayer to guide me offers the possibility of burdens being lifted and become light as they are shared in community.

I know I am not alone in these sentiments these days... I pray that all of us facing such challenges would be able to find inner peace to make it through. (and that for those of us whose struggles are directly linked to lack of time - that we would make time for ourselves!). As always, I ask you to join me in such prayers.

1 comment:

Rock in the Grass (Pete Grassow) said...

Jen - things do not get "less busy" after you graduate, or after you are ordained, or after you reach a goal, or after you retire: being busy is inside of us, and we need to learn to manage it. The life of a student at college can be that place to learn how to manage you life so that you bome fruitful. A lazy student will produce a lazy minister - or a well grounded student will produce a well grounded minister. This is the time for you to learn the skill of balancing "the needs", "the oughts" and "the have-to's". Use youe mentor to discover how to balance your life.
Love Pete