Today is my last day in the office as faculty. Tomorrow is the last day of my year long contract.
The finality of this moment hit me when I started closing the Pages files that I’d had open for weeks and weeks. My ongoing projects are either completed or wrapped up neatly, awaiting the next person.
HR has reviewed my last pay check. My co-workers took me out for Lebanese food lunch. I put all my books back on the shelf.
A year come and done, and my office window is still open to the fresh air and sun.
A year ago at this time, I remember waiting with baited breath for things to settle. I was concluding an extremely busy season of work, ending one job, starting two more and adjusting to the then-reality of being pregnant with our second child. Having a faculty contract for a year seemed such bliss. An office all to myself. Dedicated time to study and grade. Reliable income. And in the realm of my counseling job, no more case management! I knew things would only be for a year, but even that year was a vital reprieve.
Of course the year was riddled with surprises and quite a bit more stressful than I imagined. Who know teaching 18 credits in my first six months would leave me quite frazzled. Births are beautiful, but always unpredictable, and in this case connected to difficulties, complications and long recoveries. Could anyone have predicted that the whole city would be shut down for almost a month because of snow? And I would not wish on anyone the surprise that your landlord is suddenly selling your house and you need to move. Perhaps the heaviest reality was that the level of toxicity in our church community finally reached a point we could not tolerate and we began to actively seek a change.
Still, we are alive. We are family. We are committed to each other and to Christ.
A year ago, I knew I would look at my faculty position with markedly different eyes than when I started. Fresh in my memory were other jobs which I was so excited to start, then so desperately excited to leave. Things tend to not be what they initially seem, and sometimes they are worse.
In the case of my employment at the university, delightfully, things are somewhere between neutral and better. I’ve made no enemies here, and in fact have developed good friends, reliable colleagues and potentially profitable networking connections. I can take the experience they have given me and venture out into new things.
And venture I must, for all things are changing. This is what I meant by “Ongoings.” Next week I will have heard back from a job interview about a new position, and we will have moved into our new house. By the end of the summer, hopefully I will have settled into a new job situation and we will be actively investing in our new church community.
Always something new. Always another adventure. I like the excitement, the variation and never being bored, but I’m starting to long for simplicity, stability and the opportunity to invest in and fully inhabit a space.
The hardest part about the last half a year has been retaining priorities. All the collective stressors and shifting life factors have served to keep me in perpetual fight or flight mode…
…more precisely, life is happening on life’s terms as it always has and always will, no experience being truly unique or abnormal. My interpretation of life has been through a lens of fear more often than not, thus I am stressed and uncertain and desperately grasping for something, anything to make me feel in control…
…and in fight or flight mode, in the perpetual reaching for stability and control, I have deviated from what I consider my core values. Those values being faith. Family. Generosity. Hospitality. Creativity. Social Justice. Mindfulness.
I have faltered in these and begun to prioritize money. Comfort. Convenience. Isolation. Extreme experiences. Distractions.
The book I wanted to write about grown up homeschoolers actually building their lives on the Kingdom turned into a sci-fi novel using mutants as a metaphor, then even that book got shelved in favor of a fun flick about vampires and dragons.
There’s a message in here somewhere that must be declared. There’s a purpose somewhere near that must be held. There’s a truth all around that must be known. The cost of living this abundant life is everything I have, but the price of ignoring what I know is true is even greater.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the Christ Year, it’s that life is not what I expect it to be. Life is full of surprises and challenges beyond my control.
And that is okay.
There are so many ways I can distract myself and play the great escape with my real life. But if I can be present, tolerate the rough texture of my actual existence, I will actually be alive. I will have purpose. Make contributions. Know God. Know intimacy with others.
Fully become a person in the image of Christ.