Do you ever take a moment to evaluate where you and your family are in life? To decide whether or not life is happening to you or you are engaging in life? Transition is a time when you sort of naturally get the opportunity to reevaluate, to decide again.
I was listening to The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey today, which, if you are looking to dabble in the podcast world or really enjoy listening to chicks talk about hard stuff, good stuff, funny stuff, etc, I highly recommend, and she was interviewing author and speaker Shauna Niequest. Shauna, in my opinion, is a contemporary writer whose work will outlast so many others of our generation. She is genuinely a gifted wordsmith and storyteller with great depth and ability. There are a lot of women writing these days, a lot of wise women, but not all of them are genuinely fantastic, could-become-classics writers. Shauna, however, is. Does that make sense?
Anyway, I digress.
So, Shauna. She said again today on of my favorite things she says – it’s easy to decide what you want to be for. It’s hard to decide what you want to give up so you can be for those things.
For this next year, I want to be for rest. I want our family to be for rest. Above all else, encompassing every decision we make, I want rest to be the goal. This means the surrender of so many things – of my tendency to dive head-long into leadership and community making and general schedule overcrowding. This means no to most extra-curriculars and the pursuing of certain giant dreams. It means a lot, a lot of no’s. And it will go against every fiber of my being. Truly.
In addition to her comment about the “no’s,” she also made a comment about what your body and your life sort of repeatedly tells you – and whether or not you listen to it. She was referencing her desire to have four babies close together and her body’s refusal to allow that to happen. Sometimes, you just need to surrender.
Here’s how this applies to me – I promise I have a point.
My entire life has pointed me toward a career in education. Like, always and forever – it’s been education. But if I’m honest, teaching isn’t nearly so glamorous as any of the dreams I had in mind. Plus, I hear a lot of teachers talk about how very much they hate teaching, so there’s that. Teaching and motherhood – I get the same general vibe from some of the others who are doing those things – that it’s an uphill battle and they can’t wait for it to be over. I am old enough now to not be naive – to not assume that I’ll be different, that teaching will be Freedom Writers and Mr. Holland’s Opus and The Dead Poet’s Society.
I’m scared, though, to walk into a thing that I really don’t have high expectations for – that I want desperately to be an amazing experience – but that isn’t the same as being an author or running a business. Don’t hear me say that teachers are not amazing. They totally are. Teaching just isn’t my dream, and also it is.
The bottom line is, when I teach – and watch someone learn a new thing – when I see the lightbulb go off, the skill applied – I feel a joy explosion. This has always been true – always. Somehow, life always seems to bring me back around to some sort of teaching.
Sometimes, life thrusts you into a thing, and by life, I mean God. Circumstances align. You need to help support your family financially. You need a job that allows you to be home with your kids more than others, that provides good insurance. You love literature – deeply love it – and you love to watch other people love it. You believe in the power of literature to change people, to help them wrestle through their thoughts and beliefs about life. You believe in art. And you’re a decent speaker. You can organize stuff. You’re pretty creative.
But you’re also scared that saying, “yes,” to this means saying, “No,” to writing the books and running that company you’ve been dreaming of. You’re also scared because doing a new thing at 32 is freakin’ intimidating. That sneaking question keeps popping up again and again – “Are you really good enough?”
Am I good enough to study for my exams for my teaching certification while homeschooling my kids this year? Am I good enough to get a job next fall teaching somewhere? Am I good enough to let go of the dreamy dreams, for the solid, tangible, necessary ones of the moment?
And still I hear the general prompting of the Holy Spirit, “Let go of good enough and let me be enough. You are good enough because I made you. This isn’t the end of your dreamy dreams, but I can do far more than you ever asked or imagined – and sometimes that looks very different than what you had planned.”
Funnily enough, Shauna’s latest book is called Present Over Perfect (which is coming to me for my birthday from a dear friend), which seems just about perfect for me right now. Be present in your real life right now, today. Stop looking to be perfect or for the perfect thing. So, that’s my new plan. And I I have a sneaking suspicion there’s going to be some magic in it – that God is going to surprise me in good, good ways. And that teaching calling I’ve always run from? Maybe it’s the dream I never new I had.
What are you wrestling with right now?
Teachers, tell me. Why do you love your job?