Focus

Focus

I’ve had a hard time with focus lately.  Since school began it seems like I am on a track that just keeps going around in a circle.  I read, I write, I go to class, I start over.  This is part of what school is about, getting the work done in order to learn.  And I’ve enjoyed it.  But I’ve been wondering about the goal of the whole process.

That other part of going to school, the preparation for the future, the refining and defining of life ambitions, goals, and skills.  That’s the part I enjoy the most.  Recently though, this part has been lacking.  I suppose after 2 years of struggling with just staying alive, my goals were altered slightly than what they might have been previously.

From the time I was about 16 or so my plans were to be a full time ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.  This may have been underlying and not something I talked about; at 17 and 18 I was really into broadcast journalism and wanted to become like Katie Couric, but it was there in some form or another.  There was a defined process to this goal: college, candidacy, seminary, etc, and I was following the steps the best I could despite distractions and doubts (other people’s and mine).

My focus switched from that of ordained Elder to ordained Deacon sometime in the first year of seminary.  The workings of the UMC are complicated and almost too much to explain to what this switch meant technically.  But the non-technical reason for switching was that I did not see myself as a head pastor of a church ministering to all the needs of a congregation.  I should say: although I have the skills I am not that great of a leader, I can follow but prefer not to, and really where I see myself is as an individual doing my own thing.  Really where this left me isn’t of much concern, in the Spring of 07 I decided that perhaps the call I was receiving may not be to ordained ministry at all.

This was a fairly emotional time in my life, the previous fall I had struggled through school, getting several illnesses that lasted for weeks.  In the spring I was doing an internship at a local farm and education center and loving it, but struggling with school work and farm work having neither being very successful.  While removing myself from the candidacy process was mostly an emotional decision, I thought it might allow me to explore my call a little wider than what I had until that point.  I loved the church, but I also loved the work I was doing outside the church.  What I wasn’t sure of was how my education was fitting in to either.

With the Fall of 2007 bringing my health challenges completely and totally to the front, this decision seemed to have been the correct one.  The struggles of that time can be seen throughout this blog, but what it meant in context of this conversation is that I was answering to no one but myself and my doctors.  There was no outside educational (after I withdrew from classes) or vocational stress, it left me to make the right decisions for my body.

This has led me to where I am today.  Back at school to finish a degree.  I had already put a lot of work into a Master of Divinity/ Master of Arts in Christian Education and wasn’t ready to give that fully up.  A Master in Theological Studies degree seems versatile to my interests and utilizes the credits I have already received.  However, I am now at a point of completing a mid program review and establishing some goals for the future.

After these last two years I can no even begin to establish vocational goals for myself.  Thinking about days that I can not even get out of bed, I’m not sure how I could hold down any job, not to mention one that brings significant meaning to my life.  I would love to obtain a PhD, which would mean even more school.  However, I am not sure what my academic record may say to someone who would be evaluating my ability to complete a PhD.

In the past I have not been a serious student.  School was a means to an end and I was trying to get to that end as quickly as possible.  However, now things are drastically different.  I in school because I desire to learn, stretch my mind, and think outside of what our world tells us to think.  I am not there to learn prescribed ideals or simple definitions as I felt like I once was.  On top of the physically challenges I am having with returning to school there are some seriously intellectual ones.

I now feel much more compelled to participate and ask the tough questions.  I want to excel to the best of my abilities, and I want to become whatever I was created to become.  I feel right now I am falling back into old habits, blindly completing assignments and sitting through the classes just to say that it’s done and I was there.  These struggles are compounded by the emotions I have about the future.

The future, what is it?  I have no (if I was speaking to you face to face and not on a blog I would add an expletive) clue.  I want to be something great, a catalyst for change, or at least working off of someone else’s catalyst for change.  I want to be known.  My personal insecurities tell me that no of this will happen, that I can’t rise much above what I am doing now.  But I’m really getting to the point of frustration with myself, I want to say “screw you” it’s going to happen and I’m going to be great.  These conflicts inside of me hurt so much and occur on a daily basis.

So, what am I going to do?  Where I am going?  I don’t know, it’s one of those things I feel the need to focus on, but I get so frustrated when I do I feel that it further hinders the process.  My life has become on big box of paradoxes and I’m not really sure how or if I will be able to climb out.