Friday, September 28, 2012

The call to profession

I am truly grateful that in my family, one was really strongly encouraged to find a direction in life that would sustain one financially. Being a writer, a poet, an artist, a dramatic artist, an anthropologist, a naturopath... ahhh nah. Be an engineer.

Never mind, I didn't become an engineer, but I did obediently find a path somehow, that would keep me from being dependent on someone else. And THAT is a really important thing for a young female. And to my complete surprise, and what seems like completely by accident, I have a solid amount of education and experience under my belt anymore, I am finally discovering that elusive thing I couldn't find when I was younger: confidence.

My daughters, I don't think, will know this problem. They seem to have the confidence of a tsunami.

In retrospect, I realize I could have become anything, a nurse, a weigh station attendant (why does this profession fascinate me?), a waitress and even an anthropologist or a writer.

But at certain age, one might look at the career that they have ended up in and start thinking a little Parker Palmer, is this what I was meant to do?

I have. no. clue.

Do I know a lot about it? Yes. Am I knowledgeable and trained in my profession, oh heavens yes. And then some.

Do I feel like I am good at it? What measures that? Do I seem to be doing well at it? I have no idea. Am I doing something good? Ugh. How can one know?

I have landed as a teacher. For many years now! I think one comment from an immature friend who was great fun to be around, a comment which peeked out someone much more in step with what was important than what he usually portrayed, made a big difference:

If it will make me a better dad, than it will all have been worth it.

When he said that, I realized he had spoken something true and important, and at the time I had no kids much less marriage prospects on the horizon. If it would make me a better mom, it will be worth it.

My husband says, if you love it, these questions will go away. Because you love it so much you will inevitably become good at it. It might be true.

But sometimes I wonder why the notion that I would be a good teacher at all would ever occur to me? I am snarky, irreverent and come from a family who is selfish, arrogant and well, selfish (like me, at times).

I remember: I thought, I will learn much much much. And it is true. I have learned much. But I want to be a Very Good something or other. I am not sure if I will get there with teaching, because teaching takes something like an amazing personality or a tremendous mind blowing amount of wisdom like Yoda . I haven't found an educational program yet that will give me either of these things(maybe I should go back to The Evergreen State College, I bet they have a program to become Jedi Master).

Truth is, Great Teachers have something Special. A Confidence. A tremendous amount of knowledge, an ability to articulate and a fortitude to do so. And love, but half of that I have covered. Really, I do.

Except that, I feel like I have always been taught and reminded to keep my mouth SHUT.

How is one supposed to do all these things at once?

Once a student told me I had missed my calling, that I should become a photographer. I buckled inside. Who me? An artistic endeavor?

But that would go against EVERYTHING I HAD LEARNED.

I would love it, though. But for some reason I had learned that I was to be the weigh station attendant, not the career anyone feels born into, the one that you did because you could, and it served the purpose.

And truly, first world problems, anyone? That's what this pondering is, and I know it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Service. It's not easy.

In reading Mother Teresa some years ago, I remember she told her new helpers that all the people that came to the Home for the Dying were "Christ in his most distressing disguise,". That is to say, that the help and comfort that they were giving to people that arrived at the home were to be treated as though they were Christ. She went on to describe people stuck in sewers whose open wounds had attracted all varieties of nasty things, and for the sisters of Charity, those people were their opportunity to show love to Christ.

This all spoke to me.

Service is hard. Even when you are not taking care of people abandoned in death, it is hard. Taking care of the living is messy, hard.

Even if we get over ourselves enough to give a few hours of the week, there are challenges we never anticipated. People who take advantage of charity. People who somehow seem to know our weaknesses and go right at them. People who lack any gratitude, but rather complain about the quality of what they receive. People who ask much more than we are able to give.

It is enough to make almost anyone just quit.

And so?

My husband does a ministry he loves. It is the wood ministry. He delivers wood to people who need heat for the winter. He brings the kids, they make friends. It is altogether a good thing. He also makes coffee for a group who meet to worship and learn. He realized later he did have hopes of what might have come of these service ops, but they never manifested. Of course he doesn't stop. He loves to be useful.

My own work in service has been messier. It has played on personal weaknesses, have felt taken too far in what I could give. Life lesson? Boundaries, and perhaps a dusting of not guilting myself to give more than I could, because the end of that was quitting.

Where am I going with this? Am I saying it is better we don't serve unless we are good at it? I am not ready to say that.

I have heard that doesn't call us only if we are ready (or equipped), rather that he makes ready (or equipped) those he calls. So I wait. Equip me, please.

Service is not easy. Even harder when what lands in our lap is exactly going to need us to be strong where we are weak.

And when our "confidants" point out "Well the problem is that you are weak in this area," OH! Thank you, I was hoping someone would come along to offer some criticism.

My point is, at some point service will likely become hard. Maybe even too hard. Ministry work is not messing around stuff, your boundaries will be crossed, your anger may be activated and the areas of weakness in your character will be exposed. What is the use then?

Well, then I supppose one might ask themselves then "Why am I doing this?"

Is it because it makes me feel magnanimous?
I want to be redeemed for my faults to do something good?
Because I have nothing much more to do?
Because I feel guilty about something?
Because I want to do good?
Because I want to give back for what I have received?
Because I feel like I ought to?

Figuring out why to pursue doing things which are hard, painful, unpleasant is an important thing too, the motivation to service is really relevant, it will determine one's level of commitment for when things get hard, unpleasant, messy or inconvenient. And service-related work will eventually get at least one or more of those things.

But if one finds the enduring reason (for me, it is the example Christ set), then maybe in going through those times when one feels insulted, diminished and undervalued (by one's own perception) might bring some good wisdom, humility, honesty and reality to one's life.

Perhaps? Didn't Jesus get all that stuff too? Didn't St. Francis tell us to consider ourselves blessed in persecution because of our faith? Uh. Hard truths.

file this under: things I am still working on.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Perpetually hacked

For almost 7 years now I have published at

I am happy with the work I have done there, I see quite a change in the person that started that blog to the person who writes this today.

But is perpetually hacked these days. We have tried many things to undo this, fix and repair and amend and deal with it, and none of it sticks. Eventually it gets hacked again.

So I have given up I might try to print that blog and just start afresh here anyway, it had its run, it has taken me from the mom of one infant to the mom of 2 and erstwhile mom of a young lady.

I changed towns since beginning chezwhat, changed houses and a couple times changed jobs. So I still have so many things to write about, and now I am just going to write them all out here.

Welcome. Kick your feet up and perhaps at some point something I write will make you think or at least go "awww" when I put up the pictures of my extremely beautiful girls.