So, not much success at getting startitis under control. Two new projects in two days.
But that’s okay. Because I’m done. Finito. Last paper turned in. Woo.
You know, I expected to feel relief at this point. And people keep asking me if I feel relieved. But I’m not sure what it was – whether because I was enjoying working on a paper on a topic I’m passionate about, or the fact that I threw my back out last Saturday and I have been sore and grumpy ever since, or the fact that I get no breaks from my real job of being a mom – but I don’t feel some amazing wash of relief.
I really enjoyed school. I enjoyed the structure, the learning environment, all that. It was no perfect ideal; having a kid meant I became very solitary and self-directed in my learning. In a way that’s great, because it means I’ll be disciplined enough to keep learning and working now that school is over. But it also means that life after school isn’t going to be all that different. It just means I have to figure out for myself how I’m called to invest my time and my mind.
Finishing seminary isn’t like finishing undergrad. There isn’t this huge rite of passage (ordination is a whole separate Process [TM] that will take me at least a year and a half to complete). Graduating seminary means I know generally what I want to do with my life – “ministry” – but don’t yet know how that will be occupationally fleshed out, and probably won’t for a while. Again, self-direction is the norm; I have a ministry right now, but it’s a ministry of the ordinary. It’s a ministry I have to discern, track, pray over, and commit to on a day-to-day basis. Which again, is good, because that’s the heart of what ministry always is, no matter what your job title.
What I wasn’t expecting is that instead of relief, I’m washed over with the overwhelming quantity of possibilities. There are so many ways that ministry could look, because there are so many things I love to do. I had to sit down and write a bubble chart just to put all my ideas in perspective, so I don’t run off on some peripheral idea just for the novelty of it, when there are things I can work on that have more relevance to our lives.
One of my best friends talked about this when she graduated, and I was sympathetic and all, but I didn’t get it. It isn’t that I don’t know what I’m called to, or even what I’m supposed to do next. It’s just… well, I’m just out there. I won’t say I’m quite as vulnerable as one of my daffodils that got shocked by a late-April snowstorm (I hope I’m tougher than that), but I’m about as surprised.
But as one of my knitting ladies said last week, “We all have to grow up sometime!” At first I was miffed, but she was right. I am not extraordinarily put-upon. I’m responsible for my own decisions, in concert with my family and the calling God has for each of us. Naval gazing time is over, and worrying about the future won’t make it better; it’s time to just start doing what’s in front of me.
And that something is CPE. Clinical Pastoral Education. 10 weeks, 400 hours, of chaplain internship. Starting the last week in May. Seriously. To paraphrase Matthew, “Why worry about fall? The fall will worry about itself. Just try to survive the summer first.”
The first stitches of my reward sweater. At least I swatched this time!