Tuesday sees exactly a year since the move, but seeing as that’s the day I get back from Greenbelt I figured I’d do a bit of a reflexive entry today.
I’ve often referred to the whole move thing as being like a roller coaster ride, with all the ups and downs but I am beginning to see that this is not an apt metaphor. Roller coaster rides are temporary experiences which, unless you become one of these bizarre people who go around the world seeking a bigger thrill from them, don’t change your life. The move did change my life in ways which has altered it for ever and may well have repucussions for years to come.
I moved with a plan of sorts, but the plan really didn’t work out as expected. I glibly referred to it all as “the adventure”, but I am not sure “adventure” is the right term to use. Adventure again has the feeling of being something you can return from.
So what have I gained from the last year:
A number of new friends who I value greatly.
A new way of encountering God in worship and a whole host of other things connected with that…….for me discovering Methodism has been the biggest blessing of the year. I don’t want to suggest that there is any difference in the value of denominations, I don’t believe there is, we are all simply Christians. However, as somebody who had spent so long in my previous church using up energy being frustrated because I found my self experiencing a cognative dissonance, (linked to Wiki if you need a definition) the change of church has been truly liberating for me. Basically what I have found in Methodism is a spiritual home where it is ok and appropriate to take the bible totally seriously and have a love for it and to have a passion for Christ and his ressurection power given in grace but also to say how do I apply it in light of my own experience and the experiences of those around me? For the first time I feel that I can truly be myself and truly be God’s without contradiction. The freedom which I have experienced in that is immense and something I can’t really explain. This also brings with it responsibilities though. Whilst I was kicking against something, not fitting in, I was like a teenager who is given a certain amount of freedom because “that’s the stage they are going through”. Once beyond that you have to take seriously your responsibility to contribute to the community you are part of, as an adult. God has really challenged me over the last few months about being more mature, as a Christian, and what that means in terms of using the skills and gifts he has given me. I think that part of this has occurred because suddenly I am in a place which appears to know exactly what to do with people like me, and has all sorts of programmes in place to make us grow up!!!
I have also gained a greater sense of the importance of being a parent. I know with Third Party growing up that may seem daft, but over the last year I have come to understand that “being mum” is part of my calling – just as much as teaching is.
I have discovered that there is nothing romantic about “living in faith”. It is scary and horrible. I came with some plans, and a feeling that God would provide. The plans didn’t quite work out. The latest situation is that plans have gone awry again, one career development loan application has been unexpectedly rejected and so prayer for the one I am going to put into the other provider would be appreciated. Otherwise anybody in a position to do so and willing to give me a loan to be repaid over 3 years when I finish my course please let me know. Over this year God has provided, in a number of ways but the uncertainty has been awful, the thought of another 12 months of that is scary.
I have faced new challenges as a teacher. Doing supply is hard work, and it is the most challenging experience I think I have faced as a teacher. I got through it, and in the end the results were mixed but it is hard. This year I face a new challenge again as I take up teaching an evening class one night a week…professional development really occurs by just doing it.
I no longer feel I have to “prove” myself academically. I am doing this research because I want to find out the information and work out how to apply the findings in some practical way. Yes I want to get the qualification doing that, but the letters on the qualification don’t matter for me. I am not meant to be an academic, as one friend put it the other day I am “an interpreter”. My role is to be able to understand what academics are talking about and try to explain it, work it out in everyday life with those who don’t live in labs or studies. This means that sometimes I will sometimes lack the precision that higher level academia demands but I hope that it gives me other skills of connecting with people.
Strange then that I came to become an academic and learn educationally but that I have actually learnt more from my engagement outside the university than within. That said now I have gotten over the culture shock I experienced for much of my first year here I absolutely love the place and the people. It’s not been an easy year and I haven’t known where God was in all this for parts of it but turns out it has been a year of great blessing when I look back on it.