You've thought about it before-- admit it. You've had secret day dreams about walking down the red carpet, giving an acceptance speech dressed in fancy clothes, thanking everyone that "got you there". Or, if not the red carpet, than maybe a victory lap around the stadium, or crossing the finish line, or scoring the winning point/goal/touchdown.
Deep down inside, we all want a little success, a little glory, a little acknowledgment-- maybe not in front of TV cameras, but even some small compliment or way of being set apart as special. I mean, it's nice to be thought of as special.
When I'm in San Francisco, I don't really stand out in a crowd. There's always someone edgier, funkier, more fashionable, & hip than me. But plunk me down in the middle of a conference with my big, conservative Christian organization, and my black nail polish & funky hair make me seem oh-so sophisticated and urban. Somehow, people always remember my hubby's lip ring & tattoos, and our "forward-thinking, innovative" approach to ministry with college students in SF.
And let me tell you, it sounds pretty good on paper, or in a presentation. I almost start to believe that I'm somebody who knows something-- who maybe got something figured out, or is onto something new & good. But, lest I start to think too highly of myself, reality always has a way of setting in.
Yesterday was our first weekly meeting of the year with our students. Driving home last night, I had the strange (but all-too familiar) feeling of mild embarrassment, confusion & defeat. Cool, Edgy, and Innovative weren't exactly the words running through my mind. Instead, I was asking myself, Are we going anywhere with this? Do we just keep taking one step forward & one step back? And will all those new students ever come back?
It's not that last night was a total failure... it just didn't quite work. After our training this summer, I had such high hopes of creating something beautiful & wonderful here in San Francisco. And I realized, after we didn't get off to a glorious start yesterday, that there was even a little part of me that was hoping to validate myself through that marvelous success-- that maybe I could get all the accolades that other directors got, or at least have something to show for myself at those conferences besides black nail polish & a husband with a lip ring (as cute as he is).
I had a little conversation with God about it this morning. Is something wrong with me? Am I not spiritual enough? Do I not have what it takes as a leader? Am I messing this up? Are we just going to keep spinning our wheels here, making progress only to have everything fall apart or change every single Semester? Will I ever feel like I know what I'm doing?
I actually felt a little bit of envy for those people who get to show up to a desk job in a cubicle everyday and do a menial, tedious job. At least they know what they're doing, what's expected of them-- they have a routine & a rhythm to life. It's a pretty rare day when I don't feel stupid, stretched, unsure, or unprepared. It's not that I don't work hard, or that I'm unqualified (I think); it's just that there is no manual for a job or a life like ours, and that there doesn't seem to be any rhythm to this ministry.
I had a visual image of my college days, when I decided to brave the Gospel Choir. I'm not really sure how I got in, but once I was there, it was wonderful, humiliating, fun, and so very challenging all at the same time. The very hardest part for me was singing harmony while swaying back & forth, clapping on beat, and incorporating hand motions & dance steps to everything. It was then that I realized how White I really am.
I feel a little like the white girl in the Gospel choir right now. I'm sure that there's some sort of rhythm here, some sort of purpose-- and it can be really fun, interesting & exciting finding it out, but it can also be humiliating and awkward. I know there is a part of me that needs to be trying new things, to be innovating, and stretching myself. But the flip side of that is constant discomfort, familiarity with failure, and a lot of trial & error.
As much as I don't need or want to fit in with the "Christian crowd", there is still a part of me that really wants to be accepted & acknowledged by them. Ironically, this morning I needed to process my thoughts, and having run out of room in my organic, recycled cotton journal, I pulled out the Christiany gift-journal I had received at our conference this summer.
I wrote & reflected on the fact that if we had experienced wild & smashing successes already, I might just start to believe I was something pretty amazing. But this way, I can learn humility through our mistakes, and remember who really brought about beauty, life & restoration that is to come. I can live in hope for the future goodness, knowing that this time of... um, less-than-wild-success... will only make the goodness to come that much better.
I was about the close my little journal when I noticed that there were personalized Bible verses written on the bottom of each page. Not my usual style, but I read it anyways, and as I did, I laughed & cried at the same time: "My grace is sufficient for you, Christine, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." No joke-- it even had my name in there!
Those words used to sound inspiring & comforting to me. But when you're actually in that place of weakness, most of us would rather hear God say things like "You can do it! You're the perfect person for this job! It's almost over-- and after all this, I'll bless you with a brand new car, and a big house with a picket fence." When God tells you that He's not going to take you out of your situation or even make you spectacular in it-- but instead keep you weak-- it's a little less exciting.
Strangely, though, despite my embarrassment, my weakness, my constant feeling of being unprepared or insufficient, I'm okay-- a little overwhelmed at the moment, but okay. I'm still where I'm supposed to be, and I believe I still am the person I'm supposed to be. The rest will work itself out.
This may not be the most glamorous life, but it's Home, and it's right. I probably won't ever be famous or popular, but me being me-- in all my strengths & weaknesses-- is somehow just right. You might even call it perfect.