Friday, November 26, 2010

I Want to Write Love

As I was driving my son to school on Wednesday, we got into a conversation about what he'd like to be when he grows up. The conversation went as follows:

Me: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Josh: (with an unsaid "duh" in his voice that I particularly appreciate coming from a four-year old) "A man."  Right. Rephrase.
Me: "When you're a man, what would you like to do with your spare time?"
Josh: "I'd like to write. I'd like to write love all by myself."

It took me a minute to catch up with him but I got there. At first glance it sounds like this incredibly spiritual and deep answer that reflects his desire to explore the concept of love. The truth is that I'm always making him sign cards to people and he's got the whole writing of his name thing down.  Lately, though, he's been wanting to write the whole phrase, "Love, Josh" all by himself and he's having trouble. It seems that his current life's ambition is rooted in his most pressing frustration.  See problem, make life's destiny solving that problem. Very practical and I can respect him for that.  I definitely wish all of life's problems could be dealt with by having a clear goal in mind and just putting your whole self into it.

However, the bigger lesson I took from the whole exchange was not his problem solving skills. It was his answer to that first poorly phrased question that we ask of people of a young age all the time. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Not a question about what you'd like to do (although that's what we mean by the asking), but a question that ends up revolving around identity. I was so glad he responded the way he did. He told me exactly what he'd be- a man. Now, hopefully there will be some wonderful adjectives that precede that identity that are rooted in his relationship with God, but at the core, his identity will not be wrapped up in what he does.  It will be in who he is.

I will be 32 years old in about one week and I still feel like I ask this question of myself all the time. What do I want to be when I grow up? And I think my screwed up self still attempts to attach my identity to some sort of career, some job. When I took this job with InterVarsity at the ripe old age of 23, I did not foresee doing it for this long. I'm not sure what I thought I'd do after it, but I sure as heck did not envision raising my own salary for 9 years and still walking around college campuses every day of my life, wondering how it's possible that 80's fashions have made a comeback or why people are running around with water guns and headbands in the middle of midterms.  And while I'm glad to be on campus this year, I've felt a certain restlessness, a certain desire to reevaluate that question of what I want to be. Of  whether or not this is still my calling. I was certain of it at 23. Now, I'm not so sure.

Don't get me wrong. I love my students. I still think I have one of the most interesting and challenging jobs in the world. It invigorates and exhausts me all at the same time. But I'm finding my mind wandering more than it used to. The fear of what it would be like to stay home with my son full time was conquered last year during sabbatical.  My very real sense of his leaving for kindergarten in less than two years has created this urgency in me to make sure I enjoy every minute, particularly as I can't be sure he won't be my only child and I really don't want to miss a moment of his growing up. Do I regret having worked these last four years? No way. But I am at a place of wanting to be sure that if I continue to work it's for the right reasons, that God is continuing to call me to minister in this way, rather than staying out of comfort, momentum or fear of change.

That leaves me in an interesting place. I had hoped a job decision could easily be made by a pregnancy but have learned, yet again, that waiting for that to decide anything is a procrastinatory copout and could really prolong any decision, well, for forever. There's no real way of knowing if or when that will ever be a deciding factor.

Sabbatical last fall was an intense time of exploring who I've become and growing in who I understand my God to be.  It was a phenomenal journey that set me free in so many ways to embrace who God has made me to be as woman, wife, mother, friend, secure in the love of God.

For the first time in a long time, I'm asking some hard questions about my calling and desires, trying to dig deep and figure out if there are new steps to take or whether the path I'm on is still the right one. This new season is a whole different type of dreaming and praying that I never really did last year.  What do I really want to do? It may lead me right back to what I'm already doing or it may not. 

Either way, I thankful that I'm not looking to answer the question of who I want to be and hopeful that I won't confuse the two questions as easily as I have in the past.

1 comment:

  1. wonderful! I enjoyed reading this! I'd have to say I too wonder how I should define myself. I definetly define myself as a child of God, born again with the Spirit! But on a personality level, am I fun, or quircky, or outgoing, I dont know. I feel like I can morph my personality into whatever I want without any real identity that is my own. But I guess what I do know is God is the potter, and I the clay! And I shall follow Him and be a lampstand for the light of Christ to shine! -to Him be the glory, Alex