April 8, 2015

Passing the Time

I am passing the time this morning by blogging. Yep, this is what I love to do every single morning. I love to sit here and blog. I love writing, especially about myself, my interests, and my life. I don't really care if anyone reads my posts. My blog is about me, and about the things that matter to me. It is a forum for me to express my emotion, my mind, and my heart. I feel that the Lord allows me to write about these intensely personal things for a reason. Well, for several reasons really...

I find that blogging helps me:

  • Process the details of my life
  • Understand the Lord's will and plan for my life
  • Help me come to terms with the outcomes of my life
Blogging for me is therapeutic. I love that I find help, healing, and wholeness through writing my story in a journal (blog).

Action Without Vision

I found this quote this morning as I was thinking about passing the time by blogging. Nelson Mandela said,

"Action without vision is only passing time; vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world."

I think he is correct. Action without vision can be dangerous. It would be like running off a cliff simply because you failed to check out the path, and note that there was a steep drop off at the end of it. Vision without action is something we all do from time to time. We think BIG THINGS, DREAM BIG, AND CREATE BIG VISIONS, but when we fail to put them into action, to actually do something about them, they simply remain as dreams, wishes, left unfulfilled. But when we put the two things together -- vision with action -- well, then we can accomplish things (small things, medium things, large things or even great things). Yes, vision first, followed by action, will result in outcome.

I am all about action. I am all over outcomes. I live for outcomes, for producing results. It is my nature, my character, my personality -- and -- when I cannot produce outcomes or results, I feel as though I have not tried or done my best. It is weird to be wired this way, but it is the case, and I have come to terms with the fact that this is just how I am. I need to produce to feel validated, affirmed, and good about myself. It is where my self-esteem (those feelings about yourself) come from most. My identity is in Christ Jesus, for sure, but my feelings of worth, while stemming from His finished work on the cross, are affirmed through my efforts in living a righteous, holy, and good life. In order to live that way, it means that I must live my life according to the Word of God, and I must be walking in the "way" of the Lord (or Master). I must be living my life fully surrendered, fully ready and willing to do His work. In doing so, I bring my need to achieve, to find results, and to be successful to His feet. I don't want success apart from Him, and I don't want to produce ungodly works (wood, hay or stubble). No, I want to use my gifts, my talents, and my abilities to produce good works.

I struggle with doing that because part of me recognizes that these good works are not generated through worldly pursuits. These are kingdom works, and kingdom works are eternal and not temporal. Yet, since I am not called to full-time ministry (like pastoral care), I work in the world and I do worldly jobs. Still, I have this deep need, this deep desire, this deep and intense focus to produce work. How can this be? Why do I feel this deep, driving, and at times, distracting need?

Vision without Action

I think what happens to me often is that I have the vision for doing something, but I do not have the action to do it. What I mean is that I see the way, but through inaction on my part, I remain stuck in a way that doesn't produce results. It is not that I dream about doing things, but rather it is I see what needs to be done, but I refuse to do it. Why?

I think the reason I refuse to do it is because I don't know how to do it or I don't think I should do it. I have this sense of doing the "right thing" and at times, it clouds my judgment on whether I should go right or left. I want to always do the "right thing," and that means not making an error in judgment. Yet, instead of going one way or the other, I stand at the crossroads, seeing the path, but refusing to walk on it. I stare at it, thinking and thinking and thinking. But I take no step forward, no specific action. I wait.

Interestingly, this is a characteristic of the always decisive and determinant INTJ personality. What happens to us at times, though, is that we can get stuck in a logic-loop, a problem that cannot be solved easily, and when we get stressed, really stressed over the outcome (or lack there of), we start to cycle into this repetitive pattern of questioning, constant questioning. Sometimes we start to do odd behaviors, routine things, to lull us or mollify our stress level.

I have been in this "stuck" place, transfixed on the two paths: teaching and non-teaching. I cannot choose, I cannot make up my mind, and even after all the analysis, I am still struggling to choose a path to follow.


Vision with Action

The perfect solution is to take action, to step out in faith and just go for it. I have vision, I have seen the future (so to speak), and either option looks solid. I don't see any pitfalls, no drop offs, no sheer cliffs down the road. I see steady employment, good future, good income. I see a good outcome. It is just I cannot seem to decide on which way to go, on which way to choose...

Last night, I came home from GCU barely able to walk again. My Tuesday and Thursday class schedule is grueling. I stand for about 4.5 hours, and I talk through most of that time. By the time I get home, my feet and my legs are killing me. I was off my feet last night for close to four hours before I went to bed. Even still, I woke up in the middle of the night with such severe aches that I thought my legs were broken. The pain is difficult to explain, but it feels like the dull throb of a broken bone. My feet, my legs, and my hips all ache this way after I stand up for long periods of time. I am sure it has to do with my structural issues, my alignment, and the fact that one leg is slightly shorter than the other. My shoes are also part of the problem. I know this is the case, because this is how it was at Macy's (only 10 times worse).

I made the decision after working at Macy's for a year that I could not do any work that involved standing for prolonged periods of time. I also made the decision that I needed to do computer-type work, sitting at a desk, and doing more office work. Decision: no retail work.

Later, after UOPX, I made the decision that I couldn't do work that required me to talk on the phone for 4-5 hours a day. UOPX was mind-numbing work, grueling in another way. As an introvert, I simply cannot talk to people for 4-5 hours. It wears me out. Decision: no call center work.

CVS Caremark was a good fit because while I was on the phone, it was sporadic, and for the most part, I listened to others speak. I also sat at my desk all day long. I had the freedom to get up, walk about, and do my own thing. The work was on the computer, and I liked that I had my own time to do my projects. It was a good experience -- too bad it was ruined by one person who made life miserable for everyone. Decision: right type of work, wrong company.

So now I am teaching, and guess what? I stand and I speak for 4-5 hours a day. I think I have gotten myself into a combo job like a Macy-UOPX type thing (LOL!)

Making a Choice

I've thought about this a lot. I have analyzed and crunched the data. The truth is that I like teaching a lot. However, it doesn't agree with me in that it does require a lot of emoting and standing. I need to sit, to focus, to relax, and to do quiet work. I can teach, certainly, and I do enjoy it at times. But there is the rub to it, and for me, that simply means that I spend most of my "off time" in recovery mode. I don't want to do that anymore. I would like to spend my off time doing fun things, and not resting or recovering from the strain of standing/speaking all day. Decision: good work, not the best because of the physical requirement.

It is funny how the decision came down to physical needs. I guess I never wanted it to be so simple. I guess I wanted the deciding factor to be something bigger, more important, than just my physical needs. Oh well...

I know this...for now I am set with another semester of teaching. I think I have two roads to choose, to paths to follow. Both are good, and both satisfy the Lord's will for my life. One road is easier because it aligns with my skills, abilities, and my personality-type. The other road is harder because it is an area of weakness, pulling on skills that are weaker, and of course, resting on the weakest part of my nature (I can not stand, speak for long periods of time).

I think the reason I struggle with this decision is not so much that I cannot make up mind about it, but rather it is more about what other people will think when I do make up my mind and tell them about my decision. For example, I can hear my colleagues now...

"You are not staying in teaching? Oh, Carol, but you are so good at it..."

Or my parents,

"What you are changing your mind again? I thought you said you LOVED teaching?"

Or my friends,

"So why are you getting your Ph.D. then?"

Yes, the reason I waffle is not about me, but about what other people will say about my decision. Do I care what they think? Not really. I guess I just don't want to deal with their questions. I guess I just don't want the criticism, the questioning, and the barrage of statements that presume I don't know what I am doing. I don't want to feel like a screw up, a mess up, a lazy or an undisciplined person. Why? Because this is how I have always felt or been made to feel, and in truth, I am tired of being labeled as such.

So what does this mean for me?

As of right now, I believe this means that I have made my decision. I know what I need to do. The time has come to take action, and that means no more indecision, no more waffling back and forth. I must choose the way to go, then I must go that way. I cannot fear hindsight or regret. I must know that I took the time to weigh the pros and cons, to tally up the likes and dislikes, and to consider carefully the Lord's overarching will for my life. In doing so, I have thought this through, and I have chosen the best course of action, given the parameters of the time.

It is funny really when I stop to think about it. One of the best pieces of advice I was given during counseling was this...

"Decisions you made last year or ten years ago, were made during events and circumstances of that time. You cannot second-guess yourself now because you didn't know what the future would hold for you back then. Let it go, let them go, and live for today."

I was talking with my ex-husband on Friday, and we had a similar conversation. We have a cordial friendship, and we were discussing our son. He made a remark about something, a decision we made, and I said, "No. We made that decision together, and we felt it was the best course of action back then. No regrets." It is true (was true) -- there is no regret now for a decision we made some 7-8 years ago regarding how we would bring up our son. It was a good decision back then. What has happened today, all these years later, was the result of many other decisions. No one could have seen that our life would have ended up the way it did. It happened. And here we are.

I think a lot of my indecision stems from choosing a career path to follow. I have never had the opportunity to choose a career so I have been trying them on for a while. Now, I have to settle, and it is easiest to take the obvious path. However, the obvious path isn't always the best path to follow. Teaching seems like the obvious path since most people with a PhD teach. However, not all people with a PhD teach. Many do other types of work, you just don't hear them bragging about their education. Often, it is not even mentioned. They do other work, good practical and profitable work.

My choice of a career has been hijacked by worry that I will regret the decision I make today. I don't want to get a year down the road and find out that I made a mistake. I don't want to think "Oh, I should have stayed in teaching. It was such a sweet gig." No, I want to be bold, to take confidence, and to know that the choice I make today is a good one, well-thought out and planned. It is a good choice. I want to do the right thing, in the right moment, and for the right reason. I want to be sure that I am going where the Lord leads me, wants me to work, and where He will be most pleased with me today as well as into my future.

Dear Lord,

You know how I struggle with this decision, this choice. You have given me this choice, you have helped me along the way to figure this out, but you have asked me to choose which path to follow. I believe that there is no right/wrong here, just easy/hard. The choice is mine. I almost always choose the hard way because it seems better in the long run. Today, though, I am thinking that you have been showing me just how hard it is, and helping me see that the hard way isn't always the better way. Sometimes, the easy way is the preferred way, and sometimes you bring to us an easier path to walk simply to give us time to rest, to recover, and to be ready to do the more difficult "kingdom" work you have in mind for us. Today, Lord, I ask for the grace to take the "easy" path. I ask for the ability to let go of the hard way, and to accept your gift of grace and mercy as you provide another way for me to go. I trust that it will be good, be pleasing to you, and that it will accomplish your will for my life. I rest in your provision because no matter what I choose to do, you are still the one who gives the grace, the favor and the blessing to me. I rely on your provision for work -- you have to do it all -- convince the HR person, the manager, team, etc. to want to hire me. You have to do all the behind the scenes work. I simply submit the application. May your will be done today, may your way be blessed, and may I follow after you in full and complete trust, reliance, and assurance of your provision for every detail in my life. I ask this all now in the matchless and merciful Name of Jesus, my Lord, amen! Selah!

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