September 06, 2012

Big Questions.

One thing I've really been struggling to reconcile in my life is where exactly I belong. It goes deeper than that, though, and into the realm of where do I fit in? What am I going to do with my life? What is my purpose?

A lot of those questions are ones I asked myself through all of my teenage years and it's strange to repeat them as a 24 year old. I have an education, a stable, well paying job, and I've already decided who I'm going to sleep beside for the rest of my life. You'd think I would be okay with whatever is coming at me and not asking the big questions. It never works that way does it?

First of all, I like my job. Sometimes it is boring as anything but I'm so grateful that I have it and I know full well that I am very fortunate to be in the situation I'm in. Everyone knows, though, that this isn't my career. This job is something I'll do for a year or two before moving on to something more challenging and fulfilling. It's a season in my life, the first well paying post-university job.

The question is, what next? I'm terrified of the world outside of this job because I'm not confident that I have anything real to offer a future employer. It's not like my skill set is exactly hard to come by so I'll have to rely solely on my winning personality to give me a leg up above everyone else. If that's not terrifying, I don't know what is.

It seems that the past year has been a season of growing for me. After over two years of marriage I think I'm starting to get a handle on what makes a good marriage really work. That's not to say that Karl and I don't have to work at it, and I'll be the last to say that we work perfectly, but I think we're doing okay. Coexisting with someone in the same four rooms can become quite the challenge but I feel that as I learn more about myself Karl and I are also learning more about each other and how to make the dynamic between us a good one. Finding balance between two different people can be really hard sometimes, but I feel like it's something we're getting a better handle on all the time.

With the wife and working woman roles out of the way I still have questions to ask, and they become more and more reminiscent of the questions I was asking ten years ago.

I have been going to the same church for as long as I have been going to church. That is 21 years, in case you're interested. 21 years growing up in the same building, alongside some of the same people. My church family is like an extension of my real family in some respects. I have no siblings but I have the friends I grew up with, and the youth leaders that saw grow up through all the awkward stages. I don't know everyone that attends but I know many of them and have made a place for myself in their midst.

When I was 14 and going to youth group one of our youth leaders singled me out as girl with glasses. He knew my three best friends' names, but not mine. It stung that he couldn't be bothered to remember my name, and I really felt like I didn't belong there. I had no older siblings to lead the way, and I had no parents in leadership to make me known. I was just girl with glasses, awkward and strange. At least, that's how I felt.

The years really changed a lot, and as a teenager I helped out in Sunday school with drama and music. I was on a youth committee that planned all the events we did in our youth group. I helped out with worship for years. I've led our church's 30 Hour Famine more times than I can remember. I was a youth leader for a year. I'm a Sunday school teacher. I have helped out at community events and was even Mary in the Christmas play one year. After that embarrassing moment when I was 14 I really made a place for myself in our church. The thing is, I'm starting to feel the same way now as I did back then.

Without going into great detail, as this is not the place, I no longer feel that I have an important place in my church. Things have changed in the past year and I feel like I'm slipping between the cracks and being forgotten. I feel like everything I worked toward has been pushed aside and I'm like that awkward 14 year whose name no one knows all over again.

So I wonder, what do you do when the place you considered your second home no longer makes you feel welcome? It breaks my heart to ask that question and I'm actually getting emotional just thinking about it. I got married in that church because it meant so much to me growing up. I didn't care that it was, all things considered, not exactly an attractive location for a ceremony. I cared that it was reason I am the person I am today. Without that church and the people in it nothing would be the same. Practically every person in my life that I care about I either met there or as a direct result of events that were triggered there. That's a fact.

One thing I can take comfort in is that my relationships with people are not dependent on my relationship with a building.

It is not my intention to criticize any one person, but I think that in order to express where I'm coming from I needed to explain what was going on. I am really questioning if I still belong at the only church I have ever gone to. I don't want to start all over again in trying to find a spot for myself on ground I've already conquered. Dang, that sounds dramatic.

In the same vein, I start to question where I stand with the people in my life. It isn't as big of a question, but still the same kind that ten years ago I would have cried about at night. My mom so sagely told me last night, from her hospital bed no less, that it's hard to have more than two or three really close friends and that, truthfully, that's all you really need. Mom would get her wisest when she's on morphine. It's true, though. If I look back on my life there really have only been a few people at any time that I would consider my closest friends. They naturally fluctuate and, more often that I would ever care to admit, we eventually grow farther apart that I would have wanted or anticipated.

So what happens now? I used to be part of a tight circle of girlfriends that regularly prayed together and ate breakfast but time has changed that. Big groups dissolve into smaller ones, and life happens, making small differences bigger than ever before. It's just how things go, but I'm having a hard time figuring out where my place is in the midst of it all.

I have no answers right now, but I thought I'd share my questions. There are more, I think, and I have some ideas of how to deal with them, but it's hard. Asking big questions without the big answers is always a challenge. Of course, there never is an easy answer, is there?

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