Monday, February 1, 2010

Communicating the Glass Ceilings

In Mrs. Zawrotny's 9th grade english class, emotions could run high. For one, many people didn't particularly enjoy Mrs. Zawrotny, feeling like she might be past her teaching prime. For another, I think it's just generally difficult to get 14 year old boys to settle down and enjoy reading Romeo and Juliet, especially when the teacher plays down the feisty parts. I do have one lasting memory from this class, however. Right around the new year we were asked to prepare an oral report on something that interested us. It didn't even have to relate to literature- I think Mrs. Z was just hopeful that something, anything might bring a spark of interest to her charges.

Surprisingly, I chose to do my report on women in the workplace. (Hear sarcasm along with much laughter from husband regarding the word "surprisingly".) I spent weeks researching the types of jobs women do and what they got paid for it, particularly compared to men. Understandably, I was pretty fired up at what I found and when it came time for the oral report, I was probably the least nervous I've ever been about giving one. After all, I cared about this topic, I knew it well and I wanted everyone else to be just as enraged over the injustice of the glass ceiling as was I. Looking back on it, I think most of my classmates were more amused than impassioned, particularly when I banged my fist in anger on the table during my speech, but it was the one and only time Mrs. Z and I connected. She was just as fired up as I was. I got an "A" on the report.

As I've been getting used to this whole idea of working again, I've been really excited to have the space to learn. I've been gobbling up books on how to be a better communicator and enjoying time to really sit in the scriptures I'm going to communicate in my talks. And of what I've read, it seems increasingly obvious that I may have unknowingly learned my most important communication lesson back in English class. The more I can own the topic, the more I'm excited about it, believe in it's truth and want others to be changed by it, the more likely I am to come across as authentic and for the information itself to be memorable. So, as I'm asked to speak at different schools, some of whom are giving me great license in what I get to speak on, I'm asking myself what those hot topics are. What's my "glass ceiling" topic at this point in my life, that thing that I can't learn enough about and want desperately for others to understand and embrace?

I'm not sure yet that I can answer this question, nor that it would be narrowed down to one topic. Certainly, a lot of what has set me free during my sabbatical is in the forefront of my mind. Margin, living in the now, fearlessness and hope, waiting on the miraculous and believing it exists...all these things have been powerful, life-changing concepts for me. The thing I want to avoid is making that terrible assumption that all people need to experience exactly what I've experienced. We've all done it, come home from some unbelievable adventure or challenging retreat and made everyone around us feel like he or she has missed out on the biggest event in history and will never possibly catch up to where we are as a human now. I don't want to approach it that way. I'm humbled by the gift of my sabbatical and any lessons learned were learned for a reason.

I'm hoping that as I have more time to steep in these new books, more time to actually pray through these talks I'm writing, that God will make clear in the moments which "glass ceiling" topics are for now and which ones are to be savored alone for awhile longer. I guess if I feel like I can't figure out what to talk about, I could always pull out that old oral report. After all, who wouldn't at least get fired up about that?

1 comment:

  1. Love, love, LOVE the heart behind this. Desire to be authentic and to inspire passion. Sounds like faith expressing ITSELF through love, which the Bible says is all that matters. :-)