Saturday, December 3, 2016

Thoughts about Who I Am -- Navigating through Life, Past and Present


      I am 55 years old, “over the hill” you might say, or at least over the half-century mark.

     I was thinking about my life—both past and present, and who I am in conjunction with it, and wrote this description of the way I view myself and life in general.

     This is me— besides being a graying-haired woman with small body frame, sometimes intently working at a computer, sometimes cooking a family meal, sometimes running to catch the bus:

     First of all, I am someone who cares.  I care about others in my sphere: spouse, family, friends.  I care about the world—our physical environment and its well-being, and the socio-economic fluctuations that affect earth’s inhabitants.  I care about God, and want to know Him as a dynamic reality and personal friend.  I care about myself—recognizing frailties and limits, but wanting to prosper physiologically, and to grow in greater expression of soul and spirit; if I want anything it is to be a force for good, as an active member of God’s kingdom and created in His image.

     Also, I am someone who has lived a life of nurture.  Being a mother of nine children has been an incredible opportunity to apply caring in a limited human context, and homeschooling them at least through junior high has been a rich and rewarding experience—though not without tripping over the perils of insecurity, self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy—with occasional head-long plunges into failure-- and the puzzle of practical logistics for implementation.

     Emerging from homeschooling to enter the next phase of life has been awkward.  I am still a mom, but my children are mostly not here.  I am not “needed” in the old, familiar sense of the word, but caring and friendship are always needed, by anyone at any time in life.  So my new role is shaping itself gradually, as the old one winds down.  It’s like putting on a garment you’ve been knitting all your life . . . one that is not without blemishes, and in which repairs may be needed— but one that is fascinating and filled with wonder as well as being functional.

    I am an artist, in just about every sense of the word—visual art, music, literary art, filmmaking, and if the opportunity comes along, theatre art.  This is just who I am; it is what I am “made for.”  These areas interest me and creativity itself is a huge opportunity for adventure.  I will never want to climb the Himalayas, but might want to draw an illustration of a watermelon-slice “mountain” with determined mountaineers (this is a current project in process).

     I am also an educator . . . “once a homeschool mom, always a homeschool mom” is how I see it.  I’m not currently teaching anyone anything . . . but after 30 years of day-in, day-out walking along a teacher’s path, the love of learning and joy in facilitating discovery for others is a part of my makeup.  Working to develop educational materials is something that resonates strongly for me— I want to pass along materials that have been helpful and successful, to other educators, and also do really enjoy creating brand new materials— even if at present being without anyone in my own household to try them out.

    I am someone who hopes.  Hope is like an underground river that can be accessed at any time, bringing the means to sustain life in times of drought.  I try not to put my hope in futile things that will not deliver, like praying to “Martians” . . . hope is accompanied by effort, and I think these together can be an effective means to bring eventual desired results . . . a sort of slow-moving escalator made up of many, many individual steps.  If there are setbacks, or I fail to do the needed work— so nothing happens— I can start over, or maybe try a different approach, and there’s no need to abandon any goal that I really and truly want to keep.

     Although it is my nature to hope for the best, I can also be completely devastated when face to face with the ugliness of unconstructive criticism, coercion through threat or accusation or belittling or bribery, or harshness that is experienced during an extended period of time.  But this doesn’t mean there is no hope.  It is still there, just waiting— and with some nurturing it can bring continued growth.

     I like these verses in the Bible, from 2 Cor. 4: 7 – 9:

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”