Tag Archives: submission

living in the ellipsis

For the last week or so I’ve been digesting a chapter of A Balanced Christian Lifetitled, “Blessed Are the Meek” as I consider what to do with myself now that I have officially left my teaching position.  The writer focuses on Moses, a character of the Old Testament who “attempted to help God with human wisdom and power.”  To make a long Hebrew story short: Moses grows up as the adopted son of Egyptian royalty, with all the power and privilege inherent therein.  The Israelites, who are his actual forebears, are slaves of the Egyptians and it is Moses who eventually leads them out of slavery.  But before this can happen, Moses is pulled from his comfortable life and languishes in the desert for forty-some years, so that by the time God finally calls him to do something, his confidence is pretty much toast.

Oh Moses, I can relate.  It wasn’t forty years, and it was ghettos’n’cornfields, not a desert,  but to my battered spirit this year was the culmination of a period of desolation.  “Again and again He places you there, without giving you favorable environment, so that you may submit yourself under His might hand.  This is to test whether or not you will do His will, for your own will must be dealt with.”  I won’t speak about my choice of teaching as a career, but surely my withdrawal from community and loss of my self was not God’s will, and I admit that I chose this path for myself.  I ignored several warning signs and plowed ahead, thinking I knew what I was doing, that I was bound by my own expectations of what my life should be like, and to some degree serving my pride over what I’d accomplished so that I was reluctant to turn my back on it.  But after my first year in the classroom, I have to admit honestly that I don’t feel very good at what I’m doing, and that perhaps classroom teaching is not the best use of my strengths.

But Nee also writes, “Knowing one’s own uselessness alone is still useless.  The important thing is to know the power of God….If we stay [at the place of no self-confidence and no self-reliance] and refuse to go forward by trusting in God, we will greatly displease Him.”  Right now I am quite ready to admit my own weakness, but rather afraid to move forward from that point and admit my strengths and passions.  Writing brings me to life.  Counseling brings me to life.  Hell, showing girls how to use makeup brings me to life.  And yet to pursue those means starting a new chapter, which always scares the crap out of me.  In the words of Maia Sharp, “…every beginning means something else is ending.”  We talked on Sunday about how any sort of self-death is terrifying, even for Christians, because you just can’t know (in the sense that we as humans understand knowing) that resurrection is going to happen.  But that’s where faith comes in, right?  Right?  Right…

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Fear and (self)Loathing in Columbus

I’ll admit that I hit the wall kind of hard the last few days.  It became quite obvious how attached I remain to my job and the status and security that comes with it when I had a meltdown after hearing the job at Metro had likely been filled already, and being told that they’d hired someone else for the Leadership Worthington position.  I started spinning my wheels, wondering whether I should retract my resignation and trying to persuade myself that I could make another year in Lima work.  The thing is, I possibly could: I’ve improved significantly in my mental and emotional health (though I still feel like I have a long, long way to go) and I had been working on finally making some connections with people outside of school (albeit very, very, very slowly).

I could make it work…I’m just not sure I want to.  “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”–if this is true, is the inverse also true–where there is no will, there is no way?  Speaking from my own recovery experience, yes, it is, and I don’t know that God ever forces us to do anything.  But let’s leave Calvinistic mind-wrestling out of this, except to bring up the patently distorted belief I still carry that there is exactly one correct way to live my life, and the fear that I am about to go the wrong way–and thus be abandoned–is the source of my present angst.  The Bible is quite clear:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you….The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” -Deuteronomy 31:6,8

The only reason I want to go back right now is because I’m afraid I won’t find a job here, afraid of the unknown, and possibly afraid of being happier and more whole than I was all last year.  If I do decide to go back to my old position, I don’t want it to be because of fear.  In the immortal words of Yoda, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering, a path I lived out all too vividly for the last two years.

I also know that I need to stop thinking in terms of a “perfect” or “dream” job, not just because there will be parts of any job that I don’t like at times, but more importantly because my job can not define who I am.  It’s obvious how much it still does by the way I’m reacting to its loss, even though I gave it up voluntarily.  It’s hard for me to know who I am apart from what I do because actions are discretely measurable while the qualities I wish to cultivate in my being are much less so.

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