Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It's Not What But How

Don't you hate how, when you're doing absolutely nothing substantial, life decides to bring you up short? Yank your collar back on the leash? Jump into a cold pool expecting it to be warm?

That happened to me the other day. I was just sitting on my bed, trying to catch up on the issues of National Geographic that I didn't have a chance to read since February. I was reading about carnivorous plants (awesome, by the way) when this pesky little thought entered my mind.

What am I supposed to do with the rest of my life?

It's a simple enough question. It's the answer that is far from being simple.

Oh hell, I thought. Here we go! Another fun rollercoaster brought to you by Life. As of late, I have been worrying about how my summer classes will a) be paid for and b) how they will actually go since I will be gone for the first 2 days of class. Why does this appear to be the root cause of my misfortune? Well, not taking summer classes could put me behind on my major. My major means a job after graduation. The longer I wait, the more student loans I accumulate. The more this. The more that...you get the picture.

I can't help it that I love science and that I chose geology as a major. I love learning about the earth beneath me. The problem is that there are an awful lot of prerequisites that I need to get out of the way sooner rather than later. My faculty advisor told me that I didn't have to take summer classes, but when I looked at how things go, I knew that I needed to take class this summer if I wanted to get things done in a somewhat organized and timely fashion. I want to graduate in 4 years. So, to get the ball rolling on prereqs for certain geology courses, I am taking Chemistry 120 this summer. I'm also taking Anthropology 130, but this is a prereq for a fun anthro class in the fall.

Hopefully I won't change my major after this, given all of the trouble I've already gone through to try and achieve it. The trouble is really more anxiety over the fact that financial aid at UT is dragging their hind-parts. I can't wait much longer. I owe the school money, but I don't have money to pay. That is why I need a loan from financial aid! You would think that they would hurry these things up. I turned my application in on March 26. I still haven't heard from them.

One of my highlights this summer is being able to go back to NPH El Salvador. But when I realized that my deadline to pay UT was inching closer, I thought that maybe NPH could wait a few years. The money I used for the trip could be used for my schooling. However, I can't get my plane ticket refunded. Looking at the situation bluntly, I have to go to NPH. I can't not go. I want to go so much, but it seems that my trip has already had a shadow of blegh cast over it because of myself.

I overstretch and over-commit myself all of the time. Unfortunately, I did not realize that committing to both NPH and summer classes was going to be so difficult. I learned my lesson the hard way. I made my bed, and now I have to lie in it.

Then add the anxiety of not knowing what my future holds. Do I really want to be a geologist? What about teaching? Social work? Marine biology? The military? If it were ever possible (not likely), the priesthood? I have always wanted to do many things. Ever since I can remember, I have fallen in love with so many career fields. I have a hard time choosing anything be it where to go for lunch, what shirt to wear, which song to put on a mixed CD. How the hell am I supposed to choose what potentially will determine the rest of my life?

This entire post, of course, happened within the span of 10 minutes or so. I looked around at my room, with evidence of all my dreams surrounding me on walls, shelves, and the floor. I couldn't look at anything without getting frustrated. Science all around me! History all around me!

If you asked me right now, I would say that being a geologist and being a priest are vying for the top spot. You know as well as I do that there are no recognized female Catholic priests. I understand that, but I can dream right? People have told me to become Episcopalian. That would work, yes, but I like being Catholic.

All I'm trying to say with that last paragraph is that being a priest would be so much easier for me than a geologist. I wouldn't have to take these silly classes over the summer now!

After trying to avoid looking at my volcano and shark things and history books, I looked down at a daily prayer book. I only open it for night prayer, but suddenly I felt this need to open it in the early afternoon. So I did.

What was written instantly took away my worries and my doubts.
"Better is the lowly man who provides for himself than one who pretends to be important but is without bread." -Proverbs 12:9

"The value of our life does not depend on the place we occupy. It depends on the way we occupy that place." -St. Theresa of the Child of Jesus
Only when I reached out to God did I feel at ease, a sense of peace and calm. I realized that I wasn't giving my problems to Him. Humanly and naively, I thought I could fix them myself, but I can't. That Scripture verse and those words from St. Theresa of the Child of Jesus could not have come at a better time.

No matter what I do with my life, God will take care of me. My life doesn't have to be carved in stone or written in the finest ink. It can be put together, piece by piece and prayer by prayer. Doing it that way involves God. My human frailties will still expose themselves, as they always will.

The next time they do, though, I can take comfort knowing that I am not figuring out my life alone. God was there the entire time. I just didn't see Him, maybe because I forgot to look. Whatever the reason, I now know that it isn't what I do but how I do it that will define the person that I am. I can be the best geologist in the world by letting Christ's light shine through me. I can be the best janitor in the world by being the face of Jesus to others. If I don't let God work through me, then whatever I do will be devoid of meaning and of light.

It goes for all of us. Geologist, biologist, teacher, police officer, fire fighter, soldier, sailor, construction worker, farmer, married, single, daughter, son, priest, nun, deacon, writer, photographer, janitor, principal, store clerk, fisherman, zoo keeper, landscaper, artist, president, congressman, actor, producer, mayor, stay at home mom, working mom, stay at home father, working father, grandparent, waitress, truck driver, cab driver, student. No matter what we do...

It's not what, but how.

1 comment:

Fr. Christian Mathis said...

nice post Ashley. btw, I think you would make an excellent priest, but you know even the school for that requires difficult classes. There are many ways to be involved in ministry though. I hope you will find the perfect spot for you!