Saturday, July 7, 2012
So Long, Status Quo...
Well, friends, the state in which I find myself physically, emotionally, and spiritually is being challenged on a daily basis for me these days. The existing state of affairs in my life is changing in many ways and for many reasons, whether I'd like it to or not.
Here's the key. I want it to.
I'm embracing the changes as they come. That's what this journey to a new me is about, after all. I'm not just talking about weight loss here, though I often focus on that aspect of the journey because it's obvious and measurable. I'm talking about a complete evaluation of who and what I am, why I do the things I do, what I will and won't compromise on. In essence...me.
Have you ever looked in the mirror and knew that things needed to be different? I'm not just talking physically - your hair, your style, your weight. I mean the deeper things. What makes you, well, YOU. I have to tell you, this is a scary proposition, and until recently, I'm not sure I have ever allowed myself to look this deeply into myself and evaluate what I found there. But for the past 6 months or so of this journey, I've been reworking who I am. Mostly out of necessity because the circumstances of my life wouldn't allow me any other choice. But also, because as I go through this season of my life, I'm learning the value of this type of introspection for my growth and happiness.
By considering every aspect of my life subject to change, by laying it open and saying that nothing is a given right now, I've allowed myself the opportunity to truly OWN the choices I'm making with my life and know for certain that I'm willing to be accountable for them. I'm living far more intentionally, and relying far less on the "it's always been this way" decisions that I default to.
Here's just one example of what I have been working through. My career means so much to me. I love being a teacher and believe that I am a very good one. I work hard at it, but to me, it seldom feels like work, because I enjoy it immensely. Well, this year, that was decidedly not true for me. In 24 years, this was one of the most challenging, difficult years I can remember experiencing in the classroom. In the end, I feel like I was successful, but it drained me. Emotionally, physically, intellectually - every way you can be drained, I was. So I allowed myself to use this challenge as an opportunity to consider whether or not my career needed an overhaul, a very scary proposition for me, honestly. You see, I derive a great deal of my self-esteem from doing this job well. Giving that up, even if it was my own choice to do so, was a difficult thing to consider. But I forced myself to try to evaluate fairly whether my career was working for me anymore or not.
The conclusion I have come to is that while I DO love teaching and am very good at it, that there are a number of careers that I believe I could love. When I broke it down to the values at the core of me, what teaching appeals to is my desire to serve and help others, especially children, and my desire to leave a mark on the world because I was here - to be significant. As you can imagine, there are many, many other careers that could accomplish those same ends.
I've always just assumed that I would be a teacher for my entire career. By allowing myself to step back and evaluate this choice for myself, I have affirmed that I do indeed love it, but have also acknowledged that a few other careers would also appeal to me and satisfy my needs and values. Therefore, I have begun investigating the possibility of entering law school, figuring out how it fits with my undergraduate and graduate degrees, what it would require from me financially and in terms of time commitment, and what I would gain when I successfully complete it.
Now, I'm not saying that I'm ready to leave my teaching career, become a lawyer, and never look back. In fact, in all likelihood, for the foreseeable future, because of some other circumstances in my life that require more immediate attention (like these knees!), I probably won't make any major moves in this area. My point is this...I allowed myself to go here. To look at this area of my life, my career, and evaluate whether or not it's still the choice I want for myself. It's not really about the changes. It's about the process. That's important. Let me say that again.
It's not really about the changes. It's about the process.
And herein lies the point of this entire blog post. I'm not just doing this with my career. I'm trying to be open to this kind of scrutiny, evaluation, and change in every part of my life. And not only am I doing it, but I'm also encouraging you to do it, too.
The Bible is important to me - and I've affirmed that belief in my life, by the way. Even that wasn't allowed to remain unchallenged! One thing that it encourages us to do is examine ourselves. To see if our lives measure up to our proclaimed faith. To determine whether we are prepared for communion and intimacy with Him. To ensure that we're walking the talk in essence. What I've determined by engaging in this action in my life is that it is wise to challenge the status quo.
Some things in my life have changed for the better because I've done this. Some things have remained unchanged, but even those have taken on more significance and meaning for me now because I know that I am intentionally choosing to live the way I am. Many more things have yet to be considered, but I'm certain that I will. I'm learning more and more who this "New Angie" is going to be by engaging in this process...who I want her to be, who I believe God has called her to be.
It takes guts to do this. What I've already figured out on this journey is that I'm a lot stronger than I usually give myself credit for. And most certainly what I've affirmed in the past few months is that our God is a lot stronger than I have given Him credit for, too. Oh, I've SAID that He's strong, but far too often, I've acted on my own without Him because I didn't really believe He would handle it. I've never been more happy to be so wrong about that. :-)
So...in the words of one of my favorite Nichole Nordeman songs, Brave...
"So long, status quo.
I think I've just let go.
You make me want to be brave!
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough.
You make me want to be brave!"