Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Running Mad

So, it's been awhile since I've really written anything, hasn't it?

One of the reasons I keep putting off my triumphant return to the blogosphere (as I work towards conquest of the world) is that I felt the need to write a long, in-depth explanation of what I've been doing for the last 4-6 weeks, and my internal process, and why I haven't felt up to writing much...

...but I haven't felt up to writing much, which sort of defeats that plan. I suppose I haven't felt very much like I was going to take over the world - more like the world was trying to stomp on me and I was trying to keep out of its way. :) Lots has been going on, much good and much less so, but all of it time-consuming and thought-requiring, and I just haven't had the energy to write about it yet. Especially since my writing had mostly been at midnight on the church computer, and I needed to get back on a better sleep schedule.

Anyway, realistically it seems more practical...and more enjoyable...to just start writing again, without compelling myself to first do the big explanation.

That said, I now begin the big explanation. :) Yes, I contradict myself, but that's ok. To illustrate this, I call into evidence Uncle Walt Whitman.

Me: So, Walt, is it bad to contradict yourself?
UWW: "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes."
Me: Thanks. I understand about being large. You can step down.

Me: Next witness, I call Ralph Waldo Emerson to the stand. Ralph Waldo Emerson, is it bad to contradict yourself?
Ralph Waldo Emerson (he refused to let me abbreviate his name): "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."
Me: Thanks, and who are you calling a hobgoblin, you revenant ghoul? You know you're dead, right?

Me: For my next witness, I call Patsy from "Absolutely Fabulous" to the stand. Patsy, is it bad to contradict yourself?
Patsy: "Don't question me."
Me: But, I need to know if...
Patsy: "Don't question me."
Me: But what if...
Patsy: "Don't question me."
Me: Ok, thanks, you can step down.

So there you have it, I can contradict myself if I want. It's my blog and I'll make no sense if I want to, so there. Don't question me.

Seriously, I do want to do some catch up - it's been a tumultuous time and there's a lot for me to process. I just don't want to require myself to do ALL of it at once in one post. Now that I've told myself I'm not doing that, I can get on with things.

A new friend that I've met during this blogging process sent me a great quote from Jane Austen: "Run mad as often as you choose; but do not faint." It feels like I've been running mad the last several weeks, and I've felt on the verge of fainting at times, but I'm still going.

1. I'm still job-hunting, and beginning to receive some interest from churches out there (about time! I know it's a slow process, dealing with search committees made up of volunteers, but it's hard to stay postive when you send out dozens of resumes with no response for the first month or two). This has been for a variety of positions - the church that's been most interested is looking for a joint music/education position, which I think I'd really enjoy. Just music wouldn't be enough to really keep my interest, but on the other hand, I can't imagine not having music ministry be a significant part of my life. And I'm really hopeful about the education/discipleship routes that are opening to me. My passions are for worship and for discipleship, and the opportunity to focus on those things in a congregational setting is really exciting.

Unfortunately the church is in West Texas, about 1800 miles away from my family, and in a town of about 15,000 people. Neither prospect is that appealing. But I've said I want to be open and be willing to go anywhere I'm sent, and I *am* single, so maybe running off to Texas wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Anyway, we're proceeding to look into that. I'm a little confused, though - the church contacted me 3 times in the first week of contact, and I spent about 3 hours that week, all told, talking to the pastor on the phone. I really enjoyed talking with him and felt a compatible spirit, and was excited by what he told me about the church - including a lot of challenges and problems in the church, which he was really open to discussing, which did a lot to give me some sense of confidence in what they were saying to me and how they were dealing with me. They had me send some recordings of music stuff, and wanted to check my references. The last I heard from them was a 2 line email (in contrast to the friendly and effusive phone calls they'd been using to communicate) saying that they needed to speak with more people than I'd listed, people who could talk about me as a worship leader. ? They still hadn't talked to all the references I'd given - including neglecting to talk to my minister of music, a woman who routinely has me sub for her with choir and congregational leadership when she's out of town! They hadn't yet talked to my pastor, either, with whom I work to plan and lead the service when the minister of music is gone.

So I was real confused about what they were asking for, and if I was imagining the change in tone. I emailed another reference or two, plus explained my confusion and pointed them to Anna Beth and Stephen (Min. of Music/Pastor, respectively). There's been no response and that was a week ago.

So I don't know what's going on there. But regardless, it's taken a lot of my time and my mental energy thinking about it, communicating with them, communicating with reference folks, getting a church member to help me throw together some recordings that I could send to them, etc.

I've also heard from a church in NC, but that's a youth/music position which isn't nearly so appealing. But NC is much closer to family and friends than Texas! The church I'm most interested in, so far, is moving very slowly but let me know I'm still in the running. That's a pure discipleship/education position, and it's pretty far away too - Missouri - but it's an exciting church, with a lot of local, state, national, and international missions involvement. And when I say missions, in their case they do a really good job of balancing evangelism with social action - an exceptionally good job, that requires an impressive level of intentionality and commitment. That church *is* far, but it's in a small city rather than a really rural town, and that too is more appealing to me.

Lots of other places I'm looking at, but those are the three that are talking back to me, so far.

Other stuff I've been doing which I (probably) will talk about later in future posts:

2. Still trying to make ends meet, with difficulty. During this "interregnum" between posts, one of my unemployment checks got lost in the mail, which caused a lot of hardship for a couple of weeks (they had to wait 15 days before they could reissue the missing check) and required me to ask my parents for money. That was embarrassing (they were great about it, but I'm 34 and didn't like needing to ask) and disheartening. So it was hard to find the energy to write, and to feel like it wasn't a waste of time when I should do something more productive.

3. Still trying to let this be a spiritual process of discernment and growth, and not get too bogged down in my many questions. What kind of job should I pursue? Am I chickening out by deciding to look at only associate minister positions rather than senior pastor roles? Should I be thinking about church planting? Do I have the right to take unemployment while choosing *not* to pursue another chaplaincy position? Should I only look at full time church positions, or should I be open to part time church and part time chaplaincy? Should I move, and how far away is too far? Should I look for ways to pursue missional/emergent callings - like missions work, new monastic communities, etc., or just try to incorporate those leanings into more traditional (and more settled, and better paid) church work? Etc. In my prayer time I hear the words "Everything must change" - but what does that concretely mean? And how do I balance being as pro-active as I can be, while also letting myself be led?

4. Still trying to enjoy myself some and make a positive contribution to the world while I'm at it. I keep looking at other things I could be doing - throwing a party, volunteering with the Council for the Aging or the Mission downtown, for example.

I'm still struggling with all that - some days I'm really positive and some days I'm not - but I'm still fighting the fight and walking the walk. I trust that all of you are as well. Keep coming back, more to read soon!

Oh...Patsy notwithstanding, you can question me if you want. :)

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