Seven years ago, I sat in a small office, surrounded by several smart, supportive faculty members who were serving on my dissertation committee. I had just (successfully) passed my dissertation defense, and thankfully, the revisions they wanted me to make were minor.
But one of the women had a question. “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
I was quiet for a moment. The truth was, I had worked hard to get here–but I had an almost-two-year-old son and I was pregnant (though I hadn’t announced this yet) with my second child, a daughter. In five years, I saw myself teaching part-time and otherwise staying home with my children. But this wasn’t an answer I could easily give to this woman in particular, who was pregnant with her first, and who would continue to work full-time while she raised her. And it wasn’t the answer the committee expected, these wonderful people who had invested so much time in me and my potential career.
To be honest, I don’t remember exactly how I answered. But I do remember that paralyzing moment, and the doubt it spawned.
Was I doing the right thing? My husband and I had prayed about it, and while finishing a PhD was right for me, continuing into a tenure track position immediately was not. The real question was not: where did I see myself? But, where did God see me?
I’m not a fan of surprises (temperament type INTJ on Myers-Briggs). I like to know what’s coming, so I can anticipate or plan for the worst. I don’t deal well with uncertainty. (Ha! Welcome to parenthood. And life.)
But I’ve been wonderfully surprised by a few things in life, particularly mercy.
The other morning, I was wrestling with my oldest son. He’s nine, and so far, he seems to have inherited all of my worst qualities. In the mornings, when we’re both sluggish and irritable, we’re neither of us at our best. The day before, I’d sent him to school while we were both still fuming—and spent the rest of the day thinking, what if something happens to him and our last words were angry ones?
I resolved to do better. And I did okay, until he shouted at his sister and squeezed her until she retreated, crying, to her room.
What were you thinking? I asked him.
He snarled at me, which didn’t help my temper. I sent him to his room to finish getting ready, thinking of all the things I wanted to say: what is wrong with you? Is this really the person you want to be? If you keep this up, you won’t have any friends.
But something stopped me. In fact, I had the distinct impression that what my unlovable child needed most was love. Continue reading
One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the gifts. As a child, of course, I loved presents (especially the anticipation). As a grown-up I find I like giving gifts better. I love the satisfaction of matching the perfect gift with the perfect person, of seeing my kid’s face light up with surprise and delight.
But for the past few weeks I’ve been thinking of different kinds of gifts—not the tangible things I can wrap in shiny paper (sans bow, because I’m not that on top of things). I suppose broadly I could call them spiritual gifts, but they extend past the list in 1 Corinthians 12.
I’ve been thinking of the abundant gifts others have brought into my life: Continue reading
To be honest, the last couple of weeks have been a rush: stress piled on top of illness (nothing exceeds the generosity of a toddler sharing his cold), and just as I’m catching my breath, the holidays are upon us.
There’s a lot I love about the holidays: friends and family and food. And a lot I don’t love: navigating expectations that never quite match the reality, the physical details of travel, trying to maintain some semblance of schedule for my order-loving oldest son.
It’s easy, for me at least, to get caught up in the rush and to mumble through the things I’m grateful for because it’s part of what we do at Thanksgiving.
But at church yesterday I was reminded–again–why gratitude isn’t just one more activity to do at Thanksgiving, but something I need daily. Continue reading
The first time I really thought about Alma’s advice to his son Shiblon about passion–“bridle your passions, that you may be filled with love”–it was in the context of a seminary lesson on sexual purity. And for years afterward, I assumed that was all there was to know about this scripture: physical passion is a good thing, in moderation.
But lately I’ve been coming back to this scripture and wondering if there isn’t more to it. The quarterly theme for Segullah is passion, and thinking about passion in a broader context has me rethinking Alma’s advice.