It was just a little less than a year ago when I decided to start this blog in order to write about the different ways I see God in my life – in song lyrics, images, life changes, and even unexpected ways. Practicing the spiritual discipline of Examen with my staff this year gave me regular opportunities to observe what God uses to give me life and what takes it away each week. This blog then evolved into a record of my Examen observations. But once my staff parted ways, Examen somewhat disappeared from my routine and this blog became a record of life updates as I continue job searching and head into the world of post-graduate life.
Even though my staff is no longer together (physically) to ignite our matches with the God candle, to gasp in horror or laugh in amusement at the beetle landing in wax, or to watch the smoke dance and spiral as each flame is extinguished, I feel the importance of maintaining this practice. But life since receiving my diploma has seemed so monotonous that nothing really struck me as life-giving or life-taking. My day is spent without much interaction with others, and since the majority of my life-giving events this year involved spending time with friends, it almost didn’t seem worth it to light the God candle. Though I am feeling rather isolated at home, God continues to give me life. Receiving news about my summer job in Boston has been, by far, the most exciting and uplifting experience since graduation. I am so thankful that everyone has been so supportive and excited for me! I have also been enjoying reading the blogs of the Career Center’s summer roadtrippers, out there traveling the country and learning so much. Many of them are fellow graduates, writing about the lessons they have been receiving from Messiah alumni, overnight hosts, interview subjects, strangers, and most of all God. Read about their adventures and life lessons: Cross Country Cruisers, Go West Young Men, and Dreamers & Seekers. Also check out Adventures on the Open Road for Brett Faro’s perspective on Go West Young Men’s trip across the United States. I anticipate my own trip to Boston to be among the life-giving and enlightening highlights of my summer, though it will most likely also be challenging in ways I have yet to discover. Filled with new experiences and new people, I am sure that God will use the opportunity to teach me about who He wants me to be.
I wouldn’t say that this feeling of isolation has been the most life-taking thing of post-graduate life, as I now have the opportunity for reflection, introspection, and a rereading of Gracious Christianity. Rather, the most life-taking thing has probably been the feeling of being misunderstood. Today I learned that my parents indeed expect me to get a job in graphic design. However, their expectation is not based on what they want for my life but on what they thought I wanted. My mom explained to a family friend after church, “She’ll take whatever job she can get. That’s why she took a job working in Boston for the summer.” As we headed to the car, I clarified with my mom that I’m not taking the Boston job because it’s what I can get, but because it’s something that I really want to do and something that I’m really excited about. If it were about taking what I could get, you would find me flipping burgers or back at the ticket booth in Sesame Place. But my dad assured me, I would have chosen a graphic design job over Boston if it were offered. True – to an extent. I would have chosen a full-time graphic design job with benefits (OR a full-time residence life job with benefits) over the summer-only position in Boston, because that just makes financial sense. During the car ride home, I told them that I am looking at RD jobs not because it’s “what I can get” but because it’s something I am interested in, and that I did not become an RA for the free housing but because I really enjoy it. The rest of the ride was rather quiet, as is usually the case when I am honest with my parents (mostly because I wait until I am frustrated or upset to tell them what I really think or how I really feel). It is frustrating having differing opinions on my future, but that is not what is life-taking in this experience. It is this feeling of “I don’t understand why my parents don’t know how much residence life means to me after I spent the last two years as an RA.”
Now I don’t mind that my mom only got a 70% on my “How well do you know Cindy?” facebook quiz. But it is something else to discover that my parents don’t know what is important to me. The lesson to draw from this experience is probably the importance of honesty and openness after spending 21 (22 on Tuesday) years of biting my tongue. And speaking the truth before it gushes in a deluge of frustration will probably help me to have a more gracious tone of voice, allowing my words and thoughts to find a more receptive audience.