That is the question of the year. Yes, year. One year ago, my husband and I were flying from St. Louis, Missouri to Ann Arbor, Michigan for a job interview. We knew almost immediately that he should take the position, and just moments later, that I would stay in St. Louis with our daughter for her senior year of high school and continue in my teaching position during that time. Yes, it would be challenging. Yes, all of us would be faced with tough choices, but it seemed like the best decision. After all, it was a position that was practically crafted with him in mind; I had been having some challenges with my health that were making a shift in profession seem inevitable; and, this move would take us home to Michigan after nine (for me, ten) years in Missouri.
The year did indeed have some challenges — hours and hours on the road for him so that he could spend short weekends with us, new responsibilities for all of us: groceries, cooking, yard work, car repairs, etc., and missing out on key moments such as his installation service, our daughter’s soccer games and late night study sessions, and my faculty farewells. However, I must also point out some of the unexpected perks. After twenty-three years of marriage, we experienced a bit of renewal through our ‘long-distance dating’ relationship. Don’t get me wrong, we annoyed each other at times and had failed communications, but we were genuinely happy to see one another after long stretches, enjoyed dinners and walking hand-in-hand, and even took advantage of FaceTime, texting, and (for me) the dreaded phone call. Additionally, our daughter and I got to have some great ‘roommate’ experiences: cooking for each other, watching late-night TV, helping each other out in a pinch, and yes, arguing.
But the year is just about over. The movers come in nine days. Our daughter is heading off to college in four weeks. My husband is well-established in his position, and I am faced with the question: What to do?
I am not accustomed to being still. I always have an agenda. Except now. On the advice of my doctors, I have committed to not working “at least until January”. I have Psoriatic Arthritis, an autoimmune disease that seems to worsen under fatigue and stress. The past year has pushed those limits, even though I have stepped back from many responsibilities. In the past couple of months I have been virtually unemployed (other than the details of moving). This has, indeed, improved my health, but I may be losing my mind! I am the top scorer on Words with Friends, I have put together several jigsaw puzzles in those two months (one of them was 2000 pieces!), and I am reading novels of no literary merit whatsoever! So, what am I gonna do???
I know, I know, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46). Did I mention, I am not accustomed to being still? I am trying. I am committing daily time to Bible study, I am taking a daily walk with my dog, I am, as I mentioned, reading. I am trying to be still. Really. But how am I supposed to do this until January???
I have been mother to four, graduate student, teacher, pastor’s wife, writer, English department chair, curriculum coordinator, and on and on and on. And now, the nest is empty, the pastor took a non-congregational position, and I am unemployed. What to do?
I have many options in front of me, but those aren’t important right now. I have committed to being still and watching to see what God places in front of me. It will be a challenge, to be sure. Just yesterday I was two pages into a job application before I deleted the file, chastising myself, “It’s not even August!”
I sense a long journey ahead of me. So, how about for the next several months I share my journey on this space and together we try to be still and see what God presents before us. I mean, I gotta do something!