This is promise and curse, but this morning I awoke peacefully aware of the truth as this new chapter in my life is unfolding. I have been surprised at almost every turn of the road, sometimes happily so and other times not so pleasantly. Last week was filled with surprises of both kinds. Already this week looks to be similar.
Today I have two interviews and likely will begin a position before day’s end. Both are in school settings, one is a semi-residential environment for kids with remarkable challenges; the other in a first ring suburb public high school on the north side, an early prey of our city’s tragic red-lining and white flight. As I imagine my life as it may change in the next 24 hours, I am keenly aware that I anything I pen today will seem ridiculous in the new day’s light.
Even more I am aware that as I stand in this precipice that what once seemed defining for me is dramatically shifting in ways I didn’t know possible. For decades, the entirety of my adult professional life, I have worked to build a public face. My Facebook account is intentionally open to the public and so too the story of my life. In all likelihood my attempt to allow the public persona and the private person to coexist in one life was at the root of my struggle with ministry, but it was what I understood to be the call and expectation. We ministers live our most authentic lives in public view, hoping to lead a life of faith by example. In this age of church, we also do so in hopes of being invitational and visible, our public life is a marketing tool. My Facebook friend count isn’t simply a warm fuzzy but a professional reflection, my posts are not so much about breakfast as the habits of the heart. My intention has been to provide both challenge and sustenance to those who read what I write in blogs, on Facebook, even on my LinkedIn page.
While everything I post is carefully written to be public, the very notion of being public as a lesbian pastor mom is at best counterproductive for a public high school teacher. Anticipating the week ahead, my dear one spends an afternoon helping me to “lock down” my Facebook page. She carefully gathers all of our couple photos and puts them in a protected folder. I change out my beloved profile pic (a wedding photo) for one of myself (solo) speaking at a rally, she changes out a favorite background pic (us at the garden together) for one of prayer flags. She does her magic with the settings and, voila, the real me is now relatively invisible. I went to sleep last night wondering who I will be without a digital persona.
I awoke this morning feeling free to begin a new chapter, once again face-to-face with the truth that in letting go of the old we make space for the new. I have no idea what to expect in a life that doesn’t have gracious spaces of time for writing and reflecting. I have no idea how my heart (and body) will adjust to a five-day work week, each day filled with intense people time. I have no idea how my heart will respond to speaking daily the language of numbers and formulas rather than words.
I don’t know what it is that I don’t know. But I do know that there was a fork in the road some way back, that this path is authentic and solid, and that I’m excited to learn. And really, that’s enough for today.