Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Getting Uncomfortable and Taking Risks

Over the past couple of months I've done several things that were significant in large part because they were so uncomfortable. And also because they felt like big risks.

One of those things was submitting a piece to Mockingbird, something I've longed to do but due to fear and laziness haven't pushed myself to do.

Another one of those things was applying (after being approached about it) for a teaching position. It would have been a part time, but regular JOB. A serious job. A grown up job. Like, the kind of job I've never really had.

I felt like it was time to get out of my comfort zone a bit.

Wouldn't a third kid have been enough for that?

With the births of both my children, I was forced out of my comfort zone in different ways. Annie was a ridiculously easy baby but I had to really look my anxiety in the face a lot of days after she came. I had to stare it down and realize I couldn't let it eat me alive.

And also, I had to grow up. Fussing over a restaurant not having a grilled cheese seemed first of all, like a dumb thing for a mother to do but additionally, I felt like that kind of thing was truly unfair.

With Graves, he transformed my life. I had to get totally outside myself and I chose to readjust a lot of my expectations for him (nursing, potty training, ect.)

 I'm fairly certain that New Girl will significantly upend my life in some sort of way.

Even still, I guess I just wanted to push myself a little harder.

I brainstormed about the MBird piece, wrote it, rewrote it, edited it, finalized it, and submitted it. All without saying a word to anyone. Which is so not typical of me. But I just wanted it to be my thing. I didn't even tell Peyton. I knew I'd tell him about it later, regardless of if it got published or not but for some reason I wanted the answer first. Either way, I wanted to share the risk with the result. He ended up seeing it pulled up on my computer and admitted it to me. He didn't read the whole piece until after it was published but he expressed how incredibly proud he was of me just for giving it a shot. And I was a bit proud, too. Submitting my writing somewhere, anyway, is terrifying to me and was a step it took me a long time to finally take.

Clearly, the essay was published and I was ecstatic.

The teaching job worked out differently.

When the headmaster at a school I'm quite fond of approached me about some openings, I considered several, figured out which one would be the best fit, and tried to determine if it would work with our lifestyle. Since Peyton is off the majority of the week, I knew it could work logistically. So, did I actually want to do it?

I realized pretty quickly that nearly every single reason I had for not doing it was based in fear- fear of committing to something for a full year, fear of missing out on stuff at home (mostly with the baby), the fear of total overwhelm, and of course, the fear of failing (or at least not being very successful).

I decided none of those were good reasons. However, in some ways this school leans a bit more conservative than I do and during the application I realized that there were some things about my beliefs (mostly pertaining to evolution, which I believe to be scientific fact and which I don't find to be mutually exclusive with Christianity, a high view of Scripture, or the foundational things the Biblical creation account teaches us about God's character and ours) and if I wanted to be up front and honest, I needed to disclose those.

In the end I didn't get the job and I'm fairly confident that is the reason why. I have absolutely no bitterness but it was a hard blow and I had to grieve it a bit. I hope that every word in this post is gracious and honors this place I love very much. At the same time, one of the perks of not having a job (any job) outside the home is that I have more freedom to write about my experiences, thoughts, and feelings than I would otherwise and for me, it would be a shame not to take advantage of that.

The head of the school was SO kind and told me that I was smart and plenty qualified and he had really looked forward to seeing me in front of a classroom. He acknowledged that some people on the school board thought these issues weren't as essential as others. And he told me that he was heartbroken and grieved about it. Of course, that all meant a lot to me.

In one way, I feel like it's absolutely the best way to not get a job. I mean, I basically didn't get it because I was honest about what I believe (which he also said he appreciated so much, too). I couldn't really take it...personally?
And I tried very hard to do what I said I'd do all along if I didn't get the job and see it as God working things out just like He did when I lost another job right before I found out I was pregnant with Annie. I was so disappointed then but I KNOW now it was for the best. In some ways, it was like total deja vu because not only did I not get the job because of the reason I shared, but the position I was most interested in ended up not actually being available because of a change in the size of enrollment. To me, that felt significant and confirming of God's provision and protection because it was so similar to what had happened almost eight years ago.

I guess I was just looking forward to something different, but maybe the timing would have been terrible? Maybe I can work on some other personal stuff like getting back in shape and maybe even making a goal of submitting my writing more places and that sort of thing. And also just enjoying my last little newborn =) I will say that it felt good to push hard into something and to push even a little against myself and my fears. To challenge myself.

Anyway, at that final meeting I told the headmaster- a man I respect and admire very much- that I was really disappointed, that I love the school and I love the people there. But I told him that I was also grateful that the decision was made for me. That if it was that big of a point of contention and that if it would be a deep discomfort to some of the families, I really didn't want to be in that position. But that even knowing that would be a possibility, it would have been VERY hard for me to turn it down. 

Recently, I was reading a post about disappointment by one of my favorites, Shawn Smucker, and he said this:
"Almost three months ago, my wonderful literary agent Ruth began approaching publishers about my book The Day the Angels Fell, the very same project that you all helped fund on Kickstarter almost a year and a half ago. Ruth read it and loved it and thought she might be able to find a home for it, so we sent out a book proposal to publishers. Initially, the response was strong. One publisher was immediately interested. I thought it was going to get picked up. I thought my longest-held dream, of being a novelist with a publisher, was about to come true. But then the weeks passed. We still haven’t heard back from the first publisher. In the mean time, I received a kind rejection from one of my favorite publishers who said “the writing is absolutely beautiful, but…” Always “but.” Right now there are two houses still considering it. Can I be honest? I’ve felt a lot of disappointment in this process. The waiting has nearly paralyzed my creative ability. The weeks of silence and the few rejections (and even the vast, empty nothingness of no reply) rip at some raw place I didn’t know existed in me. I went into this feeling like a relatively self-confident person, someone who could take or leave whatever might happen, but I’m learning a lot about myself. I’m learning I’m not as confident as I thought I was. I’m not as independent as I thought I was. I crave this “one last” approval more than I thought I did."

But here was the big take away for me..

Why is this disappointing to me? What does this disappointment tell me about what I think is important?And is it possible that the location of my disappointment leads me closer to the location of my true hope?"

Gracious, this resonated. I recently really put myself out there in these two ways I've shared. One worked out and one didn’t. But both did help clarify (and drive me to think about further trying to clarify) what I desire to be doing with my life and what that could look like logistically while still being home a good bit while my children are small.
I did realize that the idea of working (SOME) outside the home appeals to me more than I thought I did. Not full time- that was a definite perk with this. But it's so different to be approached with an opportunity than going out and looking for something. I know that's something I'm not ready to do yet.

I wrote much of this in an email to a friend and I told her that (even though I knew I really didn't need to) I felt like I needed to clarify that I love being home with the children so much and I feel like I need to clarify that here, too.  For some reason, I've had a really hard time articulating exactly what I'm feeling about it all and it's taken me awhile to get this all out.

This year has been a difficult one in many ways, but the Spring brought many good gifts I'm grateful for. Challenge and clarity and a strangely satisfying lack of comfort and desire to take some risks, among them.

 It has me excited about what lies ahead.

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