I woke up yesterday morning in a cold sweat, trying to convince myself that the world I had just been living in was only a dream. I had been in high school again, back in my old room at my Dad's house, desperately trying to remember the last time I had attended the math class whose final was happening that day. When did it meet? Did I own the book? Could I possibly cram enough to pass? I wracked my brain to remember my class schedule, and frantically tried to get ready for school that day. Then the alarm went off, and I woke up, dazed & confused.
Most of us know that feeling-- waking up from a dream of public nudity, a forgotten locker combination, showing up for work unprepared, or being chased by an unstoppable foe. I'm not much for elaborate dream interpretations, but it seemed pretty clear to me, as I woke up on my first day of "classes" that my dream came from some underlying stress & insecurities.
This summer, I am calling Fort Collins, Colorado, my Home and six weeks of training & conferences my Job. While I readily admit that I am looking forward to some [much-needed] leadership training, blue skies & sunshine, and not being in charge of anyone or anything, I do have a confession: I am afraid.
I show up to most of our ministry's conferences dragging my feet, making a half-hearted attempt at a good attitude, with the mild anxiety that comes from not fitting in. I usually spend the first day at a conference feeling closed off & cranky, the second talking to God & asking if something's wrong with me, and the third having a heart-to-heart with Chris wondering what in the world we're still doing here. Somewhere along the road, I remember that I love my job & my students, that every family is dysfunctional, and that there's really no place else I'd rather be.
No matter how many times I go through that cycle, I always have this low-grade panic in the pit of my stomach that someone is going to find out that I am not spiritual enough, that I don't do things by the book... and that I have a hard time understanding half of what's in "The Book" (especially all those models & acronyms-- I'm practically illiterate when it comes to all the insider lingo. It's like listening to people talk about Lost).
So when my alarm went off the morning of our first training class, I lay in bed confused about my dream, wondering where I was, and realized that the fear of failing a math class was really just the fear of the "kids" at school not liking me. Thankfully, no one beat me up & stole my lunch money. Even better, I learned that several other people felt insecure, out of place, and a little nervous about the summer. It's nice not to be alone.
It's true that seven hour long meetings are exhausting, that my brain feels like mush at the end of this first week, and that I have an incredible doodle collection on my notebook. But right now, as I sit on the porch, watching an amazing thunderstorm pass through the Colorado sky, I feel privileged. Maybe it's just because I made it to Friday afternoon and can sleep in tomorrow. But more than that, I'm actually looking forward to the Fall, being back on campus, starting a new year with those troubled, dysfunctional students that have wormed their way into the tender places of my heart. Lord love 'em.
Last night I had another vivid, incredibly real dream-- but this time, instead of feeling panic & confusion, I was left (and still carry) with a feeling that can only be described as the warm fuzzies. I was walking through the gates of Child Voice, our home in Uganda last summer, wondering how I got there. The women & children gathered to welcome us, singing their song of greeting, and a friend came out, giving me a huge hug that I can still feel against my chest. It felt like home, and I felt like I belonged there.
And maybe, just maybe I can even start to feel at home here, too.