Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Back in the Abundance of Camden

First trimester over and the second begins. A new year filled with new lessons, resolutions, and goals. Caz has been asking us to think about what our hopes and goals are for this new trimester. For as goal oriented as I am, I realized I’m not a very good goal setter. Mostly my goals have been set for me. In high school and college it was, “This is what you have to do. Do it well and get good grades.” Write a resume, get a job, do what they tell you to do at your job. Very rarely was I asked to set my own goals for life other than what was expected of me. Even in the first trimester of Mission Year, we were told what the expectations were and how we were meant to live up to them. There was a lot of structure and I’m used to structure. I like structure. Structure helps me to know what people expect of me so that I can living into those expectations and be who they want me to be. Their goals were my goals. Being who other people want me to be is a heck of a lot easier (emotionally) than trying to figure out who I really am. Or is it? While there are still rules and expectations in place, there is a lot more freedom this trimester. Hence Caz asking us to figure out what our hopes are for our own spiritual growth and the growth of our relationships.
Last trimester, I kept waiting for all of this to feel like life. I went home for Christmas and was surprised to find that most of the time it felt like a dream. When I got back to Camden, I realized that it does feel like life here. Sometimes I feel like people see Mission Year as a transitional period of my life as if I was living before and I will be living after but right now I’m in the middle. I don’t believe that. This is my life. Life does not begin or end in events, it just is. Life is wherever we are right now. Letting go of the idea that my life is on pause while in Mission Year and will start up again after is helping me to let go of all the expectations of what my life should be. Sometimes people’s hopes for me, sometimes even my hopes for myself are not consistent with God’s. Why must I always be and do more? Why can’t I just be? Why can’t life just be what it is right now, the good and the bad? In Psalms 66 the other day, I read:
“For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.”
So often we think of abundance as only the good things of life, but this passage refers to the “fire and water” and the heavy burdens as “abundance.” In the good and in the bad, God brings us to a place of abundance. All I went through, all the lessons learned and the coming into a deeper understanding of who I am, all of the really difficult fires and crushing waters I went through, has brought me to a place of abundance and intimacy with Jesus and I see the truth of this Psalm clearly.
My hope for this trimester is that I come into a deeper peace and understanding of the abundance that comes from God in all forms. I’ve just begun to surrender the expectations and judgments held over me by myself and other people of who I am. Until I can let go of that in myself, I know I won’t be able to let go of my own expectations of how other people should be and I want to. I want to come to that place of humility and freedom so that Jesus has His unhindered way in me to love others more completely through me.
“If growing up is the process of creating ideas and dreams about what life should be, then maturing is letting go again.”
-Marybeth Danielson