Six months have passed since I posted on this sorely neglected blog. Six full, stressful, eventful months. The loss of my foster daughter, the traumatic roller coaster ride that was our last few months together, and the receding waves of grief have uncovered so much inside me.
Once she was gone and I regained my health, I had almost nothing to do but work and reflect. (My job had been stirring up its own mess inside of me for a long time.) In the regained hours of quiet each day, I discovered things that are newly essential to me. Somehow once the immediate rubble of trauma was clear, so was what I want and what I need. Below are six things that have been uncovered this year.
- I want more adventure. I tend to be an indoorsy homebody. When I finish my work week, I usually burrow into my couch with a good book. Of course there’s nothing wrong with reading and resting, but I want some more adventure beyond a great story. I want to discover new sights and smells and people. To simply get out in the world and bump into unexpected moments and hopefully see more beauty.I started 2019 with a BIG adventure. I’ve moved across the country from California to southern Florida! I’ve taken a job as a chaplain once again, but this time in a large retirement community. Once I’m fully settled in at work, I hope to have many more adventures exploring Florida, Cuba, the south, and the Caribbean.
- I need neighborliness. I lived in Silicon Valley for 4 years. On my days off I spent several hours running errands. I’d see many people along the way, but usually no one would make eye contact, return my hello, or say anything other than what my total was at the checkout stand. My extroverted soul needs more human interaction and warmth than this. Part of my extreme relocation was to get away from the coldness of the Bay Area and find a more warm and hospitable culture.
- I will let go of proving myself and focus on simply being myself. For young professionals–especially for women in ministry–many of our early professional years are weighted with the need to prove ourselves. One of my pastor-friends says that we women have to be twice as good as our male colleagues to get noticed, receive affirmation, and get jobs that we are well-qualified for. I don’t believe that exactly, and I detest the implication that ministry is some sort of competition, but I believe it’s true that women often have a longer, more twisty and pot-holed road to fully living out our callings.I’m confident my new job is an excellent fit for my gifts and skills, but even if it wasn’t, I’m ready to leave behind every thought of justifying and/or proving myself professionally. I’ve been at this for 15 years. It’s time to stop pushing and striving so much, and to realize that I’ve arrived. I’m both the professional and pastor that I always wanted to be. I’m called and gifted and competent and have received all the affirmation I need to stay on this twisty path for life. Criticism will come and go. Growth and learning will never end. But from here on, I’m going to unabashedly minister and simply be me to the glory of God.
- I will not be a part of complementarian churches. (If you aren’t familiar with the theological categories of egalitarian and complementarian, you can google that.) I have many dear friends and family members who have complementarian beliefs and I love them. We disagree and still maintain a healthy relationship. However, I won’t compromise again and take a job with a church that doesn’t have a decided and clearly articulated egalitarian view. It’s excruciating to see the church hold women back. (Truly, the church holds itself back when it holds women back.) It’s discouraging and frustrating to watch churches devalue women and girls in active and passive ways. I’ve worked for three churches. Each one has gone through some process to discover, articulate, and/or reevaluate its stance on women in leadership. I feel like each process has taken a bite out of my soul. I can’t go through that again. And I can’t compromise again professionally because that would make me complicit in nurturing a system that sends harmful and erroneous messages about the gifts, value, place, and purpose that women have in God’s kingdom.
- I want more family time. Silicon Valley was a golden cage for me. I was blessed to have the income to live there, but I had no cash to travel. My family lived far away and I rarely got to see them. Though unmarried and childless, family is one of my highest values. I couldn’t get more time with my family if I stayed in California. With the cost of living in here in Florida, I’ll have much more access to my family and friends-who-are-family. I already have my first plane ticket purchased!
- I need therapy. I’m not trying to be funny. I really need to find a therapist. I still have processing and healing to do after my foster care experience. I’m putting this down on the blog to hold myself accountable. I can’t afford to minimize this need or to be lazy. I deserve to be as healthy as I can be for me, but also for the people I serve.
This is how I’m entering 2019. I’m honoring that what I want and what I need is important and of the highest priority. Honoring my needs means that I’ve made some very difficult decisions and huge changes to have these needs met. Even though the fall of 2018 was a whirlwind of transition, I feel refreshed, positive, and so very hopeful for the future.
What is essential to you? What are you living toward this year?