Where I’m meant to be

Bikes in front of fall vines at the university.  All photos are mine.
Bikes in front of fall vines at the university. All photos are mine.

It’s already been such a busy season.

I’ve been such a delinquent blogger because of it all, and while most of the busy-ness is good (I’ve completed 2 fellowship applications out of 4, my class is going great, the dissertation is coming along, and I’m heading to a conference in a few weeks and off to spend Thanksgiving with dear friends and family…oh, and there’s the whole every-growing belly thing), sometimes I find it difficult to rise above the stress and anxiety of the season.

I’m blessed to be a pretty low-stress, low-fuss individual, and so I’m often the one others come to  to vent, emote, and share.  And I love listening and being as much comfort as possible to those around me.

Glimpsing fall through Princeton University's arches.
Glimpsing fall through Princeton University’s arches.

But I’m discovering lately that my empathy supply isn’t endless, nor is my energy, and what it means to be me is to remain rooted in God’s calling on my life, to worship, to take time in silence, and to pray.  I love my colleagues in the Anthropology Department, but sometimes I need to step away to remember why I’m working so hard on this dissertation and this dream.

For instance, the other night, I skipped the third dissertation defense in two weeks at the university to attend a gathering for church communities who want to try to be more inclusive toward people of all abilities.  We visited and got to know one another over a meal and then had a simple worship service in which we prayed with and for one another.  And this amazing thing happened–it wasn’t the people with the more apparent disabilities that needed care and prayer, but the supposedly able people at the table.  And the friends with disabilities stepped in, naturally and full of confidence, to offer care and support.

Lovely light across campus.
Lovely light across campus.

And as tears came to my eyes and chills wafted over me, I took a deep breath and knew so clearly, this is where I need to be.  This is where I’m meant to be, with all the other broken people, the imperfect people, with the children of God.  And that experience reminds me why I write this dissertation, because the story I’m telling about foster parents and disabled children in China is so much larger than me, anthropology, or the job I may or may not get.  It’s a story about God’s transforming love, and I feel simply humbled to have been a witness to it.

So no offense to academia in this season–I’ll keep writing and applying and teaching, but I’m not going to stress out about it.  I’m going to spend the time with the people who remind me who God is and who I am, and they may not be the most likely people, but they’re some of the best around.  Today I’m praising God for God’s church, all God’s children, and the perspective that finds me when I’ve lost myself somehow.

Brilliant fall colors in downtown Princeton.
Brilliant fall colors in downtown Princeton.

Thank you God, for showing me, time and again, where I’m meant to be.

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