Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Five: The A-ha! Moments

Over at RevGalBlogPals, kathrynzj spurs us along an Epiphany theme: 

This past holiday season is not one I will soon forget, but not for the reason some may think. Certainly, it was a busy one for those involved in the life of the church. The 1-2 punch of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on a Sunday brought more than a few of us to our knees (or hopefully to a more comfortable napping position).

In the midst of the holiday season I had one of those moments where a path suddenly was made clear - A-ha! This experience has prompted me to wonder what some of your A-ha moments may be.

They can be mundane - a realization that you like/don't like a certain food or that you really look good in that color you never had the guts to try. They can be sacred - a way to better pace your day clicks into place or finally a devotion or meditation practice that really works for you. They can be profound - the moment you realized he/she was the one (or wasn't)or the moment you realized where your deepest passion could meet the world's greatest need. 

Please tell us - what are five (more or less) of your 'A-ha' moments. Where have you had a moment of clarity?

1. From the time I was five, I really, really, really wanted to be President of the United States.  I played church, using the clothes hamper as a pulpit. People found their way to me to unburden themselves of problems. I was interested in what I would later figure out was family systems and developmental issues. Nevertheless, I really wanted to go into politics, which I perceived as an avenue for helping people. I went to many events around my state and outside it, designed for high schoolers were interested in politics, government service, and law. Then the Clinton impeachment dovetailed with my first class in psychology. Suddenly, I could see clearly what I wanted to do and where it wouldn't happen: the White House. Not only was that not too likely to happen, but I didn't have the drive to pursue that end through the means necessary to do so. I liked stories, forming relationships, and personal touches. "Hail to the Chief" will never play for me and I'm okay with that. A-ha!

2. A-ha #1 led to A-ha #2. When I transferred to a four-year college, I was majoring in psychology. I specifically picked a school that had a strong psych department, with an emphasis in developmental disabilities. In particular, Meredith College had an autism intervention program wherein students were trained and children were helped in reaching their highest level of functioning. I was (and am) very interested in this work. I had a client with whom I enjoyed working and I looked forward to taking on more. Then one day, after working for several weeks to get the client to use a spoon, I arrived to see him eating Cheerios with his hands. His very tired mother said, "I just didn't want to fight with him about it today." A-ha! came the epiphany. This work was exhausting and led to much frustration, with occasional bursts of hope and inspiration. I saw myself burnt out at 26. Yikes. I looked at my colleagues in the program and they didn't have the same feelings. I realized this was not my vocation, for this time in my life, possibly ever. I finished with that client and never took another intervention rotation. I declared a second major in religion (with my first in psychology) and, well, the rest is history. I remain extremely interested in developmental psychology and read frequently about the new concerns, developing interventions, and the latest in disability issues. 

3.  A-ha! Sometimes you have nothing but good choices and God will be with you in which ever path you choose. I understand through physics that time moves both forward and backward, but as a human being- I live it forward and learn from it backward. When I was graduating from college, the path I thought I would take fell through in November. Then in late March and early April, I suddenly had three choices for my future: a position as a caretaker in a L'Arche community in Boston, a position assisting in a congregation in England through the Young Adults in Global Mission program of the ELCA, or a position, through Americorps, with KNOM Alaska Radio Mission in Nome, Alaska. I decided against L'Arche before I got to the final steps, but I was offered the other two spots within one week. A pastor told me that sometimes we get to choose from among blessings, part of free  will and part of God's faithfulness to us and in us. A professor told me I should take the job I didn't think I'd get again. So I moved to Nome, Alaska to be the Deputy News Director for KNOM (Yours for Western Alaska) from August 2002- July 2004. Two years in Nome changed my life. It was neither a better or worse choice than England. It was a different 

4. I had a list of things I wanted in a life partner (in my case, a husband). When I met the man I eventually married, he was so many things I never expected or planned for. His career wasn't what I would have picked, I wouldn't have described him if you asked for physical characteristics, our meeting in a bar wasn't my dream encounter. Yet he met what I really wanted and, more importantly, showed me what I couldn't live without- so I married him. Those things I couldn't (and can't) live without were a real A-ha! 

5. My final A-ha! happens again and again. Within one's sense of call to ministry, within seminary, within the process of call, no one tells you that you will eventually look up from presiding at the table or praying or the announcements and realize that you love the congregation you serve. I mean you LOVE them. In the moment that it happens, you will feel punched in the stomach because you will realize 1) the power they have to hurt you, 2) the hopes you have for them, 3) the hopes GOD has for them, and 4) like Moses, you will not likely be with them when they reach the Promised Land. Oh, it hurts! It burns! You will rejoice with, ache for, mourn among and swear about the flock for whom you pray. The only relief comes from knowing that you cannot save them and that's not your job. The congregation I serve is a part of me in a way I cannot describe and that will not let me go. So I care for them and they care for me and we move forward together toward, God willing, more epiphanies. 


kathrynzj said...

Thank you so much for playing.

Amy+ said...

Great play Julia!!

Unknown said...

Julia, all this reminds me why I can't wait to see you!

Holly said...

Can I just say you are the most amazing writer.. you are.

susan said...

It's fun to read this, especially having known you IRL.

Phyllis said...

As a member of that congregation let me say that we have grown to love you also. Our ups and downs, our challenges and proud moments are all better because you are an integral part of them, praying, nudging, leading. Yes, may there be many more epiphanies.