Tuesday, 22 April 2014

On Plans and Changes

I did it! I am home again after spending two years gaining a degree in Applied Linguistics: TESOL. Already I notice that I have begun thinking of myself as a teacher. My mom is a teacher and my sister is currently a TA, so I stand in good company.

With another chapter closed, I feel like there is need for a stock-taking or reckoning of sorts, but I'm not sure how to go about it. So much has changed since I started the program, or is in the process of changing, that I'm not really sure how to sum it all up. I've kept this blog for the most part quite faithfully for the last seven years and I begin to wonder whether it's time to move on to something else. Yet, for all that change is coming more rapidly now than it has before, I can see by looking back at my earlier posts that it's not a new thing at all.

But now! My sister is getting married and working on her master's degree. My brother is well into his college career. My dad is working downtown again after working from home for most of my growing-up years. My mom is retiring as a music teacher and throwing herself into teaching kindergarten. I've moved away from home, met new people, earned another degree, and moved back again. It seems odd to be moving back when everything else is moving forward.

Now that I'm graduated (again), people are asking me what my plans are. Here is my plan: As far as the calendar is concerned, I'll be spending a month or so in China this summer. As far as anything else is concerned, I think I'll just hang back and wander a bit. By this, I don't mean that I'm ok with the idea of stagnating and of doing nothing; in general terms, I plan to be useful and an asset to the people I'm around. What I mean by "wander" is that I'm going to hold back from trying to decide for myself what the course of my career will be. That is too much pressure for me to handle. I tried to do it after I got my first degree and ended up going nowhere as far as that was concerned.

I like following plans, but have difficulty pulling them together myself. I've always viewed this as a weakness on my part. Partially I balk at the research involved (and laziness I do believe is a weakness), but also I've understood this as a lack of drive, and as a result of fear that I'll make bad decisions. However, when I shared my fears related to not having a plan with my professors, they didn't pray that I'd figure out what I'm supposed to do. They prayed thank-you-God-that-she-doesn't-have-any-plans and reminded me of Psalm 32:8 - "I will show you and teach you in the way you should go. I will tell you what to do with my eye upon you." And how am I supposed to notice where God is glancing unless I have my own eyes on him?

If I don't already have my own plans, it may prove to be a lot easier to let God steer me in a good direction. I don't really believe that I need to be constantly concerned with stepping outside of God's will - if he flat-out doesn't want something for me, it won't happen, and if he does want it, it will, regardless of what I do. And for everything else, maybe I need to worry less about my not-having-a-plan, since I'm lousy at making them anyway, and aim more for keeping my eyes on Jesus and seeing how I can serve God where I am today.

My cohort Caroline, who has a few years on me, said something similar earlier this year. I was freaking out about my future career and she, who is usually fairly soft-spoken rebuked me, saying that being preoccupied with our careers is "nothing but cultural crap" and that the best things in life tend to break in, unplanned. 

This really isn't what I expected to hear. I expected to hear, "Get off your lazy butt and do your homework." That's what I've been saying to myself, though unsuccessfully. Isn't it the people that are good at making plans that need to hear that they should lay off? Maybe not. Maybe it's time to come at this whole thing from a different angle.

So there we have it. That's where I'm at. I don't know what I'm doing or where I'm going, but I'm not lost. I stand contrary to Dr. Seuss when he says in the poem oft quoted at graduations, 

"You have brains in your head,
You have feet in your shoes,
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go."
What I can and will choose is how to react to wherever I find myself. I can choose to react by serving God or by digging in my heels against him. I will not miss the present by always worrying about the future. I suspect that if I watch carefully and am obedient, things will work themselves out.

I guess this post ended up being less about the changes that have happened and more about my orientation to where I'm going. Change in plans?

“There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, 'All right, then, have it your way'." C. S. Lewis 


Rachel said...

Preach it sister! Also I miss you... We need to hang out.

Carolynn said...

Your post was very thoughtful and insightful. One thought for you to mull over is based on my own experience.... whatever barriers there may be (you can call it 'laziness', procrastination, fear, etc), the reality is that it isn't difficult once you start. It is good to start, that way you don't have regrets later because the one thing you can't get back is time. Love you honey!

art said...

One thing I have noticed is that whatever you do, you do it well. I don't think that is a characteristic of being lazy. As opportunities come your way, take them.