I even had a whole section on my nightmares about my upcoming teaching job. (I may find a use for that later. Suffice it to say that I, she-who-never-ever-remembers-dreams, have spent the past 2 months remembering nightmares from every night, and fantasizing about jumping onto every train, plane or automobile I see… so long as it is going far. Isn’t that just exactly the quality you look for in your children’s future teacher?)
So, this is the slightly less confessional version:
Growing-up is scary. Cliche, I know. Bear with me. In the past week I have had the dubious joys of moving away from my hometown for the first time, owning my first car, renting my first non-collegiate apartment, and starting my first salaried job. All of these things fall under the headings of “BIG GHANGES” and “BINDING CONTRACTS” and as such “REALLY FREAKING SCARY.”
I think that even in my somewhat stunted idea of adulthood, I understood that being adult meant less freedom. I couldn’t just pick up and leave if I wanted to. But as “That Girl” – you know the one, the one who never left her home town, and went to a college where both her parents worked, and never intentionally broke big rules – the idea of those kinds of roots and confines never bothered me. I never really wanted to pick up and leave.
Until now. Because the really scary part of choosing independently to bind your self to a place, a job, a community, is that you are responsible. If you mess up, no one made you.
That was the confessional part. Here is the part where God smacked me with some Frying Pans O’Grace (Pretty much the only instruments of Grace that I notice… I can be a little thick.)
What is the thing that Angels say ALL THE TIME?
Now to my pathologically guilt-ridden mind, the first thing this suggests is that I should feel terrible because I am just a scardy-cat ALL THE TIME.
Enter Frying Pan #1. The fact that they say it all the time probably means that it is normal to need reminders. God’s World is not a placid place. God’s Angels are not floaty cherubs who lay around on clouds being un-intimidating. God’s Son calls us to extraordinary things, that a sane mind would run from, screaming all the way.
Sure, in my case, the “Extraordinary Things” are things like binding myself to a single place, and taking responsibility for the education of specific children, and paying rent. (YESTHATISEXTRAORDINARYTOME). Still. To do this requires a specific kind of insanity.
Enter Frying Pan #2. (Also known as Jennifer Fulwiller of “Conversion Diary”).
As Catholics, we are called to view reality as it really is, not as it seems. And reality is always “Both/And.” It is sacramental. Just as the Eucharist is both Bread and Our Lord, so also are our lives Both/And.
Teaching is both a repetitive, anxiety-ridden, service centering on lesson plans and classroom, and an adventurous opportunity to serve and shape children into faith filled, thoughtful adults. Growing-up is both the agonizingly slow experience of deliberately planting yourself and staying still long enough to grow roots and the terrifying adventure of being vulnerable in a way that only still things can be.
So, to be afraid is natural when you are having to see the world as “Both/And”… it is super intense! However, natural though it may be, we are also called to “Be Not Afraid!”
For Christ is not fear. He is the “Both/And” of Absolute Adventure and Absolute Peace.