November 15, 2004

A Little Sisterly Advice

I was stuck at the house all day today. I got up in time to shower and study a little Spanish before class, trying to guess what I had missed in class last Friday. I headed out the door just minutes behind my hostess, but decided to let her leave rather than let her watch me coax my car into starting. It’s been stubborn lately about starting, but I’d already made plans to take it into the mechanic today. Unfortunately, despite my best attempts, my car would not be coaxed. I called my boss and the mechanic and they decided it was my battery for sure, so I made arrangements to get a jump later in the afternoon, and resigned myself to a morning at home. And in typical Guatemalan fashion, my morning at home turned into my afternoon at home and quickly became my day at home.

But it’s all good, because my lovely carro is sitting on the street below me with a brand new battery in it and I was probably more productive sitting at home than if I’d gone into work. The other youth asst is only in the office on Mondays, and we tend to spend our shared office time together talking instead of working.

I tried to catch up on emails. I was doing pretty well there for a while, but after my deluge last week, I’m still trying to get out some kind of thanks to all those random people who sent me birthday greetings.

I wrote back my older sister, telling her thanks for the hilarious videos that she sent of my nephew. If I had any idea how to share them with you, I would do it. He’s just too cute. If you want to see the kid in action, send me an email and I’ll be happy to share.

So, anyway, I was writing my sister back and I started just spilling all sorts of stuff. About how I’m unsure of Grad School these days and how I’m confused about where to go next and how I’m questioning my calling. All those things I’ve been writing about the last couple of weeks. I even added a PS and told her to please not mention it to Mom and Dad just yet because I’m still trying to decide how to approach this with them.

Now, if you have a close relationship with your big sister or maybe even your big brother, writing an email like this probably isn’t a big deal to you. But being separated by 7 and 14 years respectively, my big sisters have always been so much older than me and had such different personalities from me and from each other, that we just never had one of those Hallmark card relationships. We get along fairly well, but I’ve never really gone to them for advice. That’s why people like Dawn and Lorelle and even my college friends are so important to me. They fill in those gaps left by my sisters.

As I finished up the email and started to re-read it, I realized this was different from my usual correspondence with Bev, but I decided to not think about it too much and just press the send button.

Well, this afternoon, I went back to check on some things, and I found a response from my sister. And it was good. So good it almost made me cry.


I don’t even know how to begin to explain what this email has done for me. But the closest I can come is to saying that she helped release me from all this. I’m having a hard time putting this into words, which is usually a pretty good sign that I haven’t thought it through enough yet, but I was hoping that by writing it out, I would be able to come to a conclusion about it. She wrote a lot of advice about life and specifically about how different her life had turned out from the one she had prepared for. She has a degree in business, but she admits she wishes she could go back and learn how to do sign language and learn how to use a sewing machine. That so many of the things she knows and studied have almost no practical application in her everyday life. And she told me that the most important thing is for me to find something that makes me happy, because in the end, this is my life and I’m the one who is going to have to live with the consequences of my decisions. Mom and Dad may have a fit about me not going back to school, but she thinks they love me and trust me enough to do what is best for me.

She wrote, "If you want to open a coffee shop that sells books,then go for it. If you want to work at girls campsyear round, go for it. Why not think about going towork for a travel magazine and write articles about the beautiful placess and lack of good food....The point is, you are young, unattached, and the sky'sthe limit for your options. I'll pray about it, but Ithink you probably already know what you're going to do. You just haven't admitted it to yourself. Of all the people I know, you're the one I worry about the least. You're going to be fine. Just do what your heart tells you to do and you'll be happy."

I think the real crux of this whole matter is that I’m beginning to think that the reason God gave me such a sense of restlessness and opened the doors for me to come to Guatemala for this year instead going straight into grad school or into a church job is that he’s showing me that this isn’t what he wants me to do. I may be good at it and it may satisfy part of me, but ultimately, I am beginning to suspect that this is not my passion.

It’s scary to think that, and it’s even scarier to put it into words. I’ve been working with such a focus on this for so many years, to suddenly think out of the box….well, it’s just overwhelming.

Guatemala is becoming a test for me in more ways than I was expecting. In many ways, the rest of my life is hinging on my experience here. There is a certain logic about my being here, though, if you think about it. If I had gone on to grad school, I’d be facing many more penalties, financially and emotionally if I had gotten in the middle of it and then changed my mind. And if I had gone on into a church, I would be breaking my commitment to a church and a whole youth group. Here, I have a defined entrance and exit, without any penalties if I leave early or late. I’m not saying I’m not going to finish out my commitment here. I’m just thinking about this whole experience in a different light.

I’m not ready to give much validity to this theory just yet. In some ways, I don’t know if it’s possible. I mean…does God call people into ministry and then lead them back out of it? I just don’t understand that. Maybe I just misunderstood what God was trying to tell me all those years ago on that boat dock. But how could I have been so wrong? I mean, all those summers at camp, the summer in Jasper, and even here…I do a good job. I work well with the kids and I’m usually pretty happy while I’m doing it.

It almost feels traitorous to allow myself to think of a career outside of the church. My bookstore dreams seem almost sacrilegious. Like I’m turning my back on God and the church if I think about working in the secular world. If I don’t have minister somewhere in my title. All those people who are supporting me right now, even as I sit here and ponder this…what are they going to think? That I just gave up? That I was a hypocrite?

But Bev said it was ok. I have no clue how she knew about the bookstore thing. I don’t ever remember telling her about it, but maybe I did. If not…whew…creepy big sister ESP.

I don’t know what to think anymore. All I know is that something isn’t right and the picture is just getting cloudier instead of clearing up. I guess that’s to be expected at this point in my life, and I’m sure I’m being melodramatic about it, but these just seem like such huge, monumental things to be thinking about and I’m feeling a little inadequate.


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