Quarter Life Crisis

After talking to many of my recently graduated friends over the holidays, I came to a comforting and disheartening realization that we are all just a little bit (or a lot bit) dissatisfied in where we are at right now. Landing a job at a cool company or being an altruistic, life changing teacher is just not what we thought it would be. There’s grief because the the hope we had in what we were working towards has been lost. The “dream” and the “goal” of the past few years does not live up to the “hard work” we were putting into preparing for it.

We all lie in this weird balance of recognizing how good we have it (we have jobs, we are educated, we have friends, etc.) but also living in a state of disappointment and disillusionment questioning why we ever chose this for ourselves.

I had a few çar ride thoughts on the way home from a conversation with an old friend:

  • It’s a fight for joy. I can either get frustrated that my frenzy of trying to figure out what to do, how to prioritize, and how to even prepare for teaching is going nowhere. I can feel defeated at the fact that all my work seems to be getting blown away by the wind. I can feel lost in my disillusionment and frustration of not even knowing how to help myself. Or, I can fight for joy. I can commit to seeing the good and seeing past what is in front of me. I can continue to hope and believe that it does get better.
  • Life is not a race. It’s not a race to figure things out, to get to the end of the year, or to have it all together. It’s not a race to the top, or to the power, or to success. I have to believe that this first year of teaching is actually helping me learn and improve. I have to believe that where I am at right now is where I need to be, and I don’t need to be at the “finish line” right this second.
  • Recognize what you have done. I have to recognize what I have done, the success I have experienced, the changes and growth I have seen in my students. If anything else, I have to see it. If it doesn’t mean anything to anybody else and if nobody ever sees or values what I have done, I have to be the one to see it and value it and treasure it. I can’t be looking to other people to point out or name or recognize the things I’ve done. I have to be able to see it for myself.

There has to be beauty in the current standing of where we are at. There has to be purpose. There has to be a reason. And we have to be the ones to see it for ourselves.

Advertisements

years go by

In the past year, I have student taught, graduated from college, said yeah to marrying this guy named Josh, accepted my first teaching position, survived half a year with the most energetic, spirited 1st graders, and planned half a wedding. There were so many major life events jam packed in what seemed to be a few short months. I remember distinctly at the beginning of the year being keenly aware that life would start to move fast and that it would be a big year for me. And it was all I had thought, and much more.

This fast forwarded motion was something I was totally not cool with. I love for things to move at a pace that I control. I like taking my time when I want to. I like being ready. Double checking my readiness. Triple checking that I double checked that I checked that I had everything on my check list to be checked. It’s serious, this whole preparation thing.

But, oh how God had plans to teach me and stretch me and make me uncomfortable. Oh how I did not have control of the timing of all things. And oh how I have experienced and recognized more and more of God’s kindness and grace through this relinquishing of control.

2014 was a big year, not just because of all of these things, but also because this was the farthest year in time that I have ever thought about or even considered. Even now, I have not planned things past 2014. Except the wedding. It’s scary, frightening, exciting, and exhilarating all at the same time. I am still getting used to the concept of being an adult, and of being considered a peer to people 20 years my elder. It’s weird. And empowering. But, mostly weird.

I am humbled by the blessings of teaching and marriage, all of which I do not deserve. All of which I’ve done nothing right or good to deserve them. But, grace has been poured into my life, and I get to experience the joys, struggles, heartbreak, victory, healing, redemption, and grace in both of these unique adventures.

Here’s to 2015. Where I will say that I have survived my first year of teaching, and hopefully be asked to return. Where I will spend half the year living in limbo, fighting to be present in the moments I’m in. Where I will make the 2nd most important and greatest choice of my life in marrying Josh. Where I will spend half the year just beginning to learn what in the world it actually means to be a wife and stop putting myself first all the freaking time. It’s the start of something new in this new year, and I’m more excited than scared to walk through it. I just hope I don’t try to run through it too fast – knowing that my plans are not always His plans and that His plans are always better.

I’m finally old enough to see that years go by every year, no matter if you’re ready or not. I pray that I stay young at heart, eager to explore and excited by the possibilities of the unknown.

Austin.

The more that I drive around this city, the more that I realize why God has placed me here.

I never thought I’d say that, but here I am. In the past few weeks, I’ve driven in more parts of this city than I had in my four years in college here. It has been so enlightening to see the diversity that I’ve known of and talked about simply in driving in different pockets of this city. The diversity of architecture and people and lifestyle is vast and great and beautiful. I love it.

Many people fall in love with Austin right away. It’s a cool, hipster, trendy, and a music-filled city – I get it. But, I was not one to be won over so quickly. If I have to choose to be in love with a city, it’d always be San Antonio because that is where home is and I. love. home. Austin was the place where I could go to college and grow up a little, but home was always the place I wanted to get back to.

It’s not a surprise that when Josh was driving me back to Austin for “good,” I cried the entire way here. Yes, I chose to live here. Yes, I loved that I had a job here. Yes, in those moments, I was excited for the career that I was about to begin. Yes, I love Josh and this is the city where he would be. Yes, to all of those things. But – no, I was not pleased to not be living at home. No, I did not want to start this new phase of life without my Mommy and Daddy being minutes or seconds away. No, I did not want to transition to a new season of life and new living situation and new social group. No, I did not want something new.

Therefore, it’s actually quite a shock that I am reaching these realizations except that I prayed this prayer in the first few weeks of school when I was absolutely questioning all things.

Change me in such a way that the only explanation is Your power in me.

I wasn’t quite sure what I was praying in those moments, but now I am beginning to see it. As Josh and I begin to commit to a church here in Austin, we realize that it’s not the perfect or ideal situation or place. But, what is? I know I hate the idea of new things, new places, new people, new friends, new anything. Novelty and uncertainty is probably the most difficult thing for me. Yet, God has been providing me glimmers of hope amidst the uncertainty and darkness of the days that I am walking through.

Now more than ever, I know that my identity cannot be found in my career. Being a teacher is part of who I am, but never can it be all of who I am. Because, what happens when the Lord calls me to something new? What happens when this doesn’t work out? What happens when this doesn’t bring me joy? I don’t know if these questions will be questions that I ask – but what happens when they do? My identity to the deepest parts of who I am must be rooted in Christ.

And oh how God has taught me this over and over again.

Perhaps the newness factor in all facets of my life are purposed brilliantly and beautifully to draw me to His plans and not my own.

So, maybe I’m kinda sorta maybe starting to fall in love with this place that I will currently call me home. And yeah, I can say for certain that I am at peace with gratitude that God has led me to this place with these people at such a time as this. And yeah, I will stay here with contentment and joy until the day that the Lord calls me back to the place I called home for so many years.

Straight Up Craziness.

I want to capture the past 5 days and put them in slow motion. So many significant life events have happened that I can barely keep it. My mind wants to race forward and plan plan plan. But, my heart is not caught up yet and the first wave of good news has not even sunk in enough to let this second wave come in. 

Last Friday, Josh proposed. I said “yeah!” 

It was a frenzy of figuring out how I did NOT see this coming and how Josh was able to keep it a secret and how my mom and sister were able to keep it a secret and how I did not ever hear or notice the times someone almost ruined the surprise. Yesterday, as I was driving, I was almost in tears (again) as I let it sink in that the Lord has given me so much in this man. I do not deserve such blessings, such proposal or engagement or marriage. Not one bit. Yet, what a picture of grace and love God is showing to me through this whole process. All I do is whine and cry and complain and NOT trust Him, and yet He is so eager to give so much to me. 

Today, I was offered a 1st grade position. I said, “Yes, I would like the job!”

It was a sequence of conversations that left me going crazy as the suspense cause my thoughts to do backflips through my brain and heart. But, I finally got the call this afternoon with the job offer I had been waiting for. I joke that I am most excited because I don’t have to write a letter of interest or cover letter for a very, very long time. That’s partly true. But, although this process was not nearly as long as it could have been, the past few months have brought along some crazy emotions and doubts and breakdowns. Yet again, all I did was doubt doubt doubt…and all God did was give give give. 

Amidst all of the congratulatory messages and support and excitement from friends and family, I can’t help but feel like this is all not supposed to happen to me. This is all so good and all so wonderful and the attention is being pointed at me. But, the crazy thing is, for once in my life, I feel like I had NO control over any of the milestones that have been reached in the past 5 days. NO idea the proposal was coming. NO idea that I would actually get the job due to factors out of my control. Throughout the entire interview process, I kept calming my fears by reminding myself that none of the words spoken were mine and that if I got the job it would not be because of me. And, I feel the exact same way right now. I know that I am being congratulated – and no doubt it has been a blessing to realize how deep and wide my community stretches – but, it also feels wrong because the glory or honor should not be pointed at me. 

I don’t know how to say that in fewer words, but my heart is just rejoicing that none of these things are direct effect of anything I have done or made happen. There’s no way I could have made our relationship turn into marriage. Only by the grace of God. There’s no way I could have made the principal hire me. Only by the grace of God. 

“Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Maybe in the past few months, my heart has not necessarily been characterized by delight in the Lord. Or maybe there was 50% total panic crazy freak out mode and 50% peace and delight in the Lord that must have been the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, I know that within the course of me and Josh’s relationship, this verse has popped up over and over again. Even before Josh and I started dating, this verse was probably very prominent in my life. The Lord truly has given me the desires of my heart in marrying Josh. And I’m sure I barely know what that means yet, but this verse just sinks into the core of who I am when I think about God’s faithfulness in bringing us to this point. 

I know that my life right now looks absolutely amazing and picture perfect, but I also want to balance enjoying this time and being keenly aware of reality. The next year of my life may be the hardest one yet. I will be preparing to get married as well as entering my first year of teaching. I know that God has planned such events to happen all at the same time for His good purpose. I want to trust Him so deeply and with much steadfastness remembering these moments where I lay here in awe of His rich blessings in spite of how undeserving I am. 

People have asked how I feel, and I tell them that I feel absolutely crazy. What I mean by crazy is that I feel the weight of God’s grace on my life and it is way too much to believe and process so quickly. I want to take it all in, but it all moves so fast. Yet, this is only a shadow of what is to come and my mind is blown by that. I am delighting and reveling in the joy of knowing that this good news and these earthly goals and accomplishments are made meaningful and purposeful because of the Good News we have in Jesus. 

My heart overflows with joy and with so much more than I can even name because of how much I don’t deserve these gifts, yet how pleased God is to give them to me anyway. 

Has, Not Hasn’t

In the frenzy to figure out what happens next, I have been so fixated on what hasn’t happened yet. I.e., I haven’t found a job. It’s basically an obsession at this point, and I don’t know how to approach this crazy weird transition in a healthy, grace-filled, pleasing-to-God way. I know that I am supposed to trust in God’s plan for my life. I know that I am taken care of and loved beyond what I can imagination. I know that I am incredibly fortunate to have parents who will support me and catch me if I fall. Seriously. 

But, the struggle ensues and I must take action and change even if it doesn’t seem to make me feel better. For the sake of my sanity – and the sanity of those closest to me – I really need to think about what HAS happened instead of just focusing on what hasn’t happened. 

So, what HAS happened in the past few months? What are the things to thank God for and what are the things that reflect His faithfulness in the times I have doubted Him? (In no particular order…)

  • I finished student teaching! And total teach! And PDS!
  • I’m graduating on Friday (WUT)
  • Celebrated 4 years of being part of Epic Movement with friends that have walked alongside in struggle, triumph, apathy, and joy.
  • My sweet 3rd graders and CT sang the song “Seasons of Love” to me as a going away present
  • 2 friends recently got baptized and their stories are a testament to God’s sovereignty. 
  • Fancy Mice aka the sweetest (not) freshmen girls showed me that imperfect, limited intentions and efforts are of great meaning and worth 
  • 2014CK4 friends continually push me to pursue God, encourage me in who God has made me to be, and provide such genuine and fun friendships even from miles and miles away – and PLUS, our sweeeet reunion is in just a few weeks.
  • Celebrated 3 years of getting to date the most bold, unapologetically-steadfast-to-the-Truth, strong, forgiving, sacrificial, trustworthy, and loving man ever. 
  • Conquered mountains with Confusion S (aka the group of girls I walked through student teaching with) and got to see each of them grow in confidence, grace, and love as future teachers.
  • Developed more-than-just-teacher-friendships with the girls in my cohort 
  • Had numerous conversations with friends as we reflected on God’s faithfulness throughout college and all that we’ve walked through together.
  • Reconnected with friends from past years and realized how undeserving I am of such consistent friendship and encouragement – maybe not from the same people for 4 years, but from different people at just the times that I needed such specific truth/stories to be spoken to me.
  • Saw the beginning of the era of going to friends’ weddings and realized that my idea of marriage needs some more processing/growth. Also, realized that this means I am an adult. 
  • Experienced grace from the people closest to me who continue to give me love even though I so often spew out hurtful words/actions.

The close of these 4 years of something to be celebrated, not something to be terrified of or to dread. This summer of camp is something to be humbled by and grateful for. My heart has just been shattered into pieces and the pieces have been thrown into all the random responsibilities that pressure me – job search, friendships, living places, graduation, camp, etc. But, this morning (through prayer, which apparently I need more of in my life) I began to realize how undeserving I am to even be able to work camp this summer. And right now, I’m realizing how undeserving I am to have experienced these last 4 years of college and to be graduating. Everything in my life is an absolute privilege that I have so disgustingly taken for granted and turned into this stressful web of lies and idols. 

I want this transition – in all of its’ glorious mess, confusion, and struggle – to be marked by hope, truth, patience, grace, trust, and peace. These words continue to pop up for me and these words are much easier to say, write, and read than they are to feel and to live. I want to live in hope, truth, patience, grace, trust, and peace that God really-actually-forreal-certainly-seriously does have a plan for my life. That Jeremiah 29:11 is a real thing. And that what His plans are for me and way better than what I am trying to pave for myself. 

Jesus and Social Justice and My Life?

For the past year, I’ve thought a lot about social justice in terms of education because of the classes I have taken. But more importantly, this has spurred me on to think deeply about what my response and responsibility, as  a Christ follower, is to the injustices that I see all around me. There are a lot of people with a lot of ideas on how things should be done and who should be responsible and who should be in charge of making everything more “fair” or “equitable” or “equal” or “just.” I’ve seen the ways that political views weigh on many peoples’ perspective of social justice. But, what has troubled me is how the truth of Jesus Christ should be at the forefront of my passion and movement toward social justice – not my political views – and I’m not quite sure how to navigate all of these issues and perspectives and people and opinions and oh my goodness. It’s a lot.

I have zero answers and minimal insight, except to say that I am trying and that I am seeking. My heart stirs when we speak of social justice from societal and educational viewpoints. I know that there is something inside of me that desires to see justice in this world because of the ways that the Spirit lives in me and thus this is a characteristic of God that is now reflected in my heart.

I know that justice can be brought forward through my decisions on where/who/what to teach, but more importantly in how I teach – this is what I learn about in school. This is justice that can be brought forward when the “small,” “powerless,” “non-dominant,” “marginalized,” and “oppressed” people in society are given a chance to have their voices heard and opportunity to succeed in a society that so often seems to be scaled against them. (From my observations, this often seems to bring forth conversations that are largely political – how do we do this? Who is in charge? Who is responsible – the government? the people? Who is to blame? On and on those questions go. However, I’m not convinced that those questions are the most important.)

I know that there is something more than this – something more than politicalizing social justice and making it into a buzz word that people latch onto because it sounds good. There is something far deeper than just how the government should function and what citizens ought to do about all of these problems. The fact of the matter is that injustices exist because this world is broken. Everything else is simply (or complicatedly) a symptom of this brokenness. It’s a deep rooted issue that delves into the human condition and the state of this world.

I cannot fix the world’s brokenness. Nor can the government, or any privately owned organization, or any well meaning group of people. We. Cannot. Fix. This. Brokenness. We reach and grasp and long for a solution to injustice based off of human ability and power, when this is not even the question to be asked or the outcome needed.

I know in faith that Jesus is the One who has already come to fix our brokenness. He has provided the solution. He has paid the cost and He has already offered to heal and redeem the darkest parts of this world, this country, this culture, and these people. I know that the answer lies within Jesus. But, with this knowledge, what do I do? 

Clearly, I am still at the start of my process and journey of understanding how social justice in terms of society and culture at this point in history fits into the ever constant and never changing person of Jesus Christ. I want to begin writing about these thoughts and issues even though my vocabulary or communication skills on these topics feel so limited and small compared to the vastness of problem. This is a way for me to practice voicing my thoughts and understandings – however undeveloped or small they may be – in responsible, respectful, and truthful ways.

Note: I have placed certain words in quotes – not as a way of trivializing them – but as a way to recognize the weight and diversity in the usage/understanding/definition of each of them.)

Time.

Last weekend I went to see a family friend in a musical at my old high school. These physical buildings hold so many memories of friendship, insecurity, growth, and development. I was blown away by the talent that a mere high school production could possess, which made me think back to all that I was a part of while I attended school there. As I walked through the hallways that I used to tread through daily, everything seemed so foreign and distant. A foggy memory that was all to familiar and brought back a flood of emotion.

ImageI remember the heart and aching that I put into accomplishing so many things through music – region band competitions, solo and ensemble, chair tests, leadership roles, etc. Yet, four years later, I return and all that is left of me is a small picture of the entire band while I was there, my name on a small plaque in the corner of the band hall, and miraculously a poster that I had made that still hangs on the bulletin board at the front of the room. It’s hilarious to me – for a few reasons. I think it’s hilarious that I even have left a small mark on the physical space of the band hall. Yet, it’s also ironic to me because of how much time, energy, and heartbreak I committed to advancing myself in such a small realm.

I can’t help but think back on all of the ways my mind and body changed over the four years I spent in those buildings. But, even more so, as I get ready to finish out my last semester of college, it is incredible to see the ways that my heart, mind and soul have transformed in these past four years. Time has a crazy way of changing the world – society, culture, individuals, the Church, etc. I am remembering back on so many moments in the past four years where the Lord has remained the same, yet my circumstances, perspective, and heart have been in so many different places. I am questioning the ways that I have left a trail here at UT and it’s hard to see a way I have left marks on this physical space. However, I pray that the sharing, giving, and loving that I have sought after will leave a mark and a trail that serves purposes that go far beyond myself.