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Riding the Roller Coaster

May 30, 2013

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It’s been a bit of a roller coaster the past couple of months.  At the encouragement of a friend, I applied for a teaching job.  The job was my dream job–at my kids’ school.  I could teach, yet also be more present for my family than if I had a job across town.  I wouldn’t have to sit in traffic to get to work, I knew a bit of the school’s culture, and I could still bike to school with the kids.  I completed the world’s longest application, studied for my ESL exam, passed my ESL exam, updated resumes and cover letters, and waited.  When the time came, I pressed that apply button on the school’s website and my hard work was rewarded with a couple of interviews.

I didn’t get the jobs.  I would hear about another teacher retiring and wait, again, hoping to get a call from the principal, who was very encouraging when I talked to her about it.  I didn’t get that one either.  I was disappointed.  I understood, logically the odds I was up against–500 applicants for 3 jobs.  (Seriously).  I thought over my interviews countless times and wondered what I could have said differently.  I bought another book to read, in hopes of learning about some of the current educational trends that I know nothing of, due to my 7 year hiatus.

Do you ever have those times when logic and emotion tell you two different things?  Logically, I understood it all–I understood my odds and my weaknesses.  Emotionally, I was a bit bitter and sad.  Logically, I knew that just to be one of ten or so called for an interview out of 500 was really good.  Emotionally I couldn’t understand how I had failed, why they didn’t want me, why I wasn’t one of their top three choices.

These things happen.  Considering it all, the biggest fatality was my ego.  As I look towards next year, I get a bit excited not to teach–to go to yoga, go to lunch with friends, have my quiet time, write, volunteer at the kids’ school, spend my last year at home with a preschooler.  It’s a good thing, not to have to work.  Teaching school would have added a lot of stress to our home.  Financially, we are just fine.  It’s just my poor ego.

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Not surprisingly, I have fallen off of my quiet time a bit since Easter (since all this crazy preparing myself to apply for a job stuff ramped up into high gear).  I’ve been busy.  I get behind in my daily Bible reading and then I frantically mostly catch up.  I finished my wonderful prayer book and didn’t fill that void.

And I’ve wondered, why has this roller coaster been so particularly hard to ride this time.  I wonder what’s wrong with me.  I think I should be more even-keeled, to not let things bother me.  Funny, how whenever things get particularly up and down I forget what it means to be human.  I think the good Christian is even-keeled, and life’s everyday occurences can’t rattle her.  She just anchors down into God, into her Rock, in her Jesus and all is well–she weathers the storm trusting to Jesus to calm the waves, and is chill about the whole thing.  For some reason, when I was younger, I thought that was the goal of a Christian–to get to the point where you were rather unaffected by life.  I don’t believe that now–I see that for being not human and I know that all God asks me to do is to be human, to be fully human–not some robot without emotions.   However, whenever I get on that roller coaster, I revert back to those things of old–I hide in my child-like faith and forget all the growth I’ve made over the past 20 years.

I was reading the Psalms through all this and getting a bit peeved at King David and the Old Testament.  I had about had it with the God of retribution–we get what we deserve–my failure is punishment type stuff.  There’s a lot of that in the Psalms, and to be honest, it wasn’t all that comforting.

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All of this also challenged my paradigm as well.  I believe that God works through any situation.  As I started the application process, way back in January, I approached it by saying, “If I get the job, I am supposed to teach now.  If I don’t get the job, the timing isn’t right.”  I did everything I could to help myself and figured that which was out of my control was up to God (I can imagine my husband arguing Leslie Weatherhead’s book, The Will of God, with my logic there).  However, now that I didn’t the get jobs, I am having a hard time finding comfort in the idea that this wasn’t the time for me to teach.  I put so much labor (and cash–testing isn’t cheap!!) into the process, I started wanting it more and more.  I know that God will work through this and that everything will be ok and not working is probably what’s best for our family this year, but.  But.  I am still disappointed.  I am still human.  I still am grieving and need consoling.  I recognize it’s just small loss, but it is still a loss and I still need to grieve.  One of my dear women pointed out to me Tuesday night that grief occurs over any loss and change–not just the big stuff.

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This afternoon, I admitted I needed more than myself.  I admitted my daily Bible reading wasn’t enough.  I admitted I missed my very intentional quiet time with God.  I admitted I need more.  I walked to my book shelf, and without much though, pulled out a book; Reaching for the Invisible God by Phillip Yancey.  I looked at the title and felt a bit of comfort.  That seemed about right.  God was feeling a bit invisible to me right now.  Maybe, maybe, Yancey’s words could once again comfort and challenge me.  Maybe he had words I could identify with and that would help me find that God who feels a bit invisible right now.  In the first chapter, Yancey says:

In an odd way the very failures of the church prove its doctrine.  Grace, like water, flows to the lowest part.  We in the church have humility and contrition to offer the world, not a formula success.  Almost alone in our success-oriented society, we admit that we have failed, are failing, and always will fail…That recognition forms my starting point in undertaking a journey to know God.

After I read that, I knew.  I had to share my failure–my failure to get my dream job, my failure to stick to my quiet time with God, and my failure to keep my mature faith (and not regress back to that child-like faith).  I share not to get sympathy or kind words of encouragement.  I share because I am human and am embracing my humanity.  I share because I know, in retrospect (that view point where we can see things most clearly from), I will see “grace, flowing to the lowest parts.”  I share because I know I am ordinary and my struggles are not different than yours.

We are not alone.

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