Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gobble (and Boo and Ho Ho Ho)

The holidays? Really? The flurry of the fall hustled me through October and November, and now the holidays are here! I suppose I should stem my incredulity and just accept the fact that times really does seem to go faster every year.

The fall has been an interesting one, emotionally challenging in ways I didn't expect. Once I got my feet under me at school and remembered that I love teaching honors kids, I began to feel antsy. My antsiness manifested in researching vacations I probably won't take, looking at houses I probably won't buy, researching graduate programs that I probably won't attend, and looking for jobs in cities to which I probably won't move. I remember doing this quite a bit when I was first teaching in Sunnyside, and back then it was a manifestation of the "I don't want to do this forever" thought.

The challenge for me this time around is that the "this" that I don't want to do forever is hard articulate. "What don't you want to do forever?" I asked myself.

Teach? No, no problem there. If anything, I enjoy it more now than I have before. Sure, I'd like to get an MA in Literature so I can try my hand at teaching collegiately sometime, but I'm not chafing underneath the saddle of public education. I love my kids, my classes (even the ones that are dumber than a box of rocks), my school.

Live in Yakima? Nope -- I love living close to to my family. Wyatt actually said to me, "Our house is your house, Marah, especially during the holidays. You come over whenever. We love you." And I know my parents feel the same way. Do I wish for more cultural stuff to do here, sure, but Seattle/Portland/Spokane are not that far away. I got to see Harry Connick Junior in concert this fall and almost had a kitten about it. Fantastic!!!

Franklin Hill? They are my faith family. I love us, am planted there, am committed to staying. I have weathered the funky season of leaving ministry leadership and am confident that there are plenty of ways to stay connected, even should my involvement morph and change some more.

Young Life? Sometimes I feel that this may be the rub, the aspect of my life that gives me an emotional wedgie, but I haven't figured out if that's just spiritual attack or a real mis-fit of ministry to life. I get to tell the kids I love from school about Jesus in a way that doesn't break my contract, and for that I am so thankful. The challenge of this year in ministry is that I feel alone in it. I have four 19-year-old leaders who work with me, so that is another layer of strength and challenge. They have so much energy and creativity, so that is glorious; they are 19, though, so I get to lead them through their 19-year-old-ness. But to stop leading at YL? I'm not sure. At times I feel like I fell ass-backwards into it to begin with, but that feeling always begs the question of whether or not I believe in God's sovereignty. The aspects of YL that I feel fit best are the camp stuff in the summer, cabin leading and assignment team. Being a work crew boss was the hardest thing I've done in quite some time, but it still was just perfect. Huh.....

At any rate, all of these thoughts reached a critical point a couple weeks ago, causing quite a bit of emotional funk. I just felt oppressed by the "nothing will ever change" thought. Or maybe the thought of "my life will never change unless I make it change but the changes I want are not ones I'm willing to force." One Sunday morning in particular, I spent the pre-church time in a haze of questioning what I'm to do with this season of my life. Is this just a stepping stone to something else? I have no idea what that something else would be; I feel like Katherine in Anne of Avonlea: "Bend in the road? There's no bend in my road. I can see it stretching straight out towards the skyline."

Then I went to church. Message: the road to wholeness starts with gratitude.

This isn't spiritual rocket science, but so help me if that didn't turn me around a corner I didn't know I was at. I don't need to "figure out" the next step, what comes after "this". I can, quite fantastically, be thankful for the extra time in my schedule, the kids in my classes, the leaders in Young Life. As much as I play with ideas of doing something else, I also know -- when I'm quiet before Jesus -- it's not time for anything else.

And when I look at the past few months, they are good months. How many people can just pick up at fly across the nation to spend a weekend with a college roommate? I got to see Boston (in the fall, no less) and spend a fantastic few days with my wonderful Jayme. I spent Halloween hiking by Walden pond, wandering around the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, exploring Louise May Alcott's house, and camping in tent in Jayme's backyard. Seriously? How cool was that.

I have space in my life -- margin -- so that when stuff hits the fan, I have time to process it and deal with it and help others process it and deal with it. And there are good things on the horizon; in particular, I've been asked to be a Head Leader at YL camp next summer. As much as I loved being a work crew boss, I think the HL job may be an even better fit. Plus it's planned to be during Session One, so I'll still have six weeks of summer vacation after I get back from assignment.

All of that to say, there is so much for which to be thankful. Thank you, Father. Thanks for Davis, and Young Life, and Franklin Hill, and Bennett, Erin, Jaelynn, and Tyler, and my family, and my Hobbit House. Thanks for really good friends who drink coffee with me, watch movies with me, and text me about the latest greatest tv show episodes that I must see. Thanks for healing the piece of me that was freaking out last year about spending another holiday season "still single." Thanks for Christmas, twinkle lights, and coming for us.

You deserve so much more than thanks, so in addition to that, You can have it all.


  1. I love your wonderful thoughts, Marah. Thank you for thinking them out loud for us.

  2. I can't figure out how to not do this anonymously, but I do appreciate this essay. Thank you for posting it.