Sunday, October 15, 2006

Alone with my thoughts...

I agree that it's dangerous for me to have so much time to myself since it inevitably gets me thinking about odd, sentimental and superfluous tangents. I just can't help myself.

A brief disclaimer first: This post will be partially about England. My apologies if you're sick of hearing about it. If you are, get your blinders and 'muffs on now. It's my blog and I can rant if I want to.


I'm tired.

I'm tired of not knowing what I'm meant to be doing with my life. It seems that everywhere I look, there are successful people my age (and younger) who've figured out their life's purpose and are quite happily taking steps in their respective directions. Friends and cousins my age are buying houses, starting families and reaping the benefits of work-sponsored health insurance. People I used to laugh with in the dorms have traded in their carefree two-door vehicles for SUVs and are now toting diaper bags and strollers instead of laptop bags and backpacks. My biggest concern about what to carry during the days rests on which bag is most practical. Oh, and my trusty Ozarka bottle.

For two years, I was "someone" in England. I was the girl with the American accent. I was the mission worker who was known by many people in the small community where I was living. For 24 months, I organized activities with young adults, volunteered with community programs, and spent numerous hours working for a church who wanted my help. I had specific tasks, loyal friends and, perhaps most obviously, an esteemed status. I was valued, I was unique and I was noticed.

I woke up the other morning and actually cried a bit because I couldn't believe my England life was finished. (I'm not saying this to gain sympathy; trust me, I can throw my own pity party beautifully myself.) But it's amazing to me how one 8-hour flight from Birmingham, UK to Detroit turned things around so quickly. When I arrived back in the States, the sound of American accents had me overjoyed. I was thrilled to be back home amongst the family and friends I had missed so terribly. Being welcomed back at the airport by loved ones made the homecoming even sweeter, and my friends even went to the trouble of bringing me some of my favorite American treats to make sure I knew how much I was loved and missed.

So why on EARTH am I not overflowing with gratitude? Why can I not just accept that my time in England is done and that my life in America must now recommence? Why can't I just be happy with a church family who is doing their best to support me during this time? How long will I feel out of place and what can I do to change that? WHEN WILL I BE NEEDED AGAIN?

It's funny the random things you remember. At a birthday party for a friend of mine in elementary school, I remember asking my friend's mom if I could help do something. She told me that if she needed my help, she would ask. It struck me as odd even at the time that she would be so short with me, but I never forgot her mannerisms and sometimes I get that feeling all over again. "Does anyone want me to help them?" "Is there a place for me anywhere?" "Have I nothing special or unique to offer to anyone??" --- Feeling unnecessary or easily replaced is like getting a Charlie Horse in the middle of the night: it's painful, obvious and uncomfortable, but it eventually goes away. Or does it? I've been home for 14 weeks now, but I still feel like I'm sitting awkwardly on someone else's couch.

I'm tired emotionally and spiritually.

When I tell people that I've been doing mission work for two years, I get a lot of raised eyebrows, "Wow!"'s and "Well, that's great"'s. I immediately feel like a disappointment because the level of my faith right now wouldn't be able to tell anyone I'd been immersed in church work if words weren't available. It's hard to describe, and I can barely understand it myself, but it's so difficult to keep an even balance between "church" and "work" when church IS your work. In Loughborough, I was spending several hours a day and nearly everyday at the actual building working on different things. When you see the inside of a building that often, it's hard to switch on the "worship" button when you enter on Sunday mornings, nights, Monday nights and Wednesday nights. It all started to feel the same and spiritual complacency dampened the passion I had in the beginning.

I'll be honest: I'm searching. I'm looking all over for my faith again because I know it can't be far. Since I've returned, I've spent time at different congregations desperately seeking the "Everglow" (thanks, Perrey's) I once had. My Thomas heart wants to believe I'll get back to "normal" but the Purgatory in the meantime is killing me.

At 26, I'm trying to make healthy decisions that will lead me down paths of service, humanitarianism, aid, betterment, Journalism, happiness and contentment. I know I'm capable of achieving greatness, but I'm not patient enough to wait around for it. I'd start yesterday if I knew which direction to go. Due east to volunteer relief? Or should I take a right and author my first novel? I want to be someone others look to for guidance; I'm not good at being in the passenger's seat.

I'm ready to be "someone" again. Perhaps God only made me that "someone" for a season? Who knows? I miss England -- and the people there -- every day and I know I always will. But for now, I really want to concentrate on who I aspire to be while still remembering the people and experiences who have made me into me. I know I'll go back to Britain again so now I should be looking ahead with anticipation for the unknown that lies before me. I've decided to follow Paul's example to be "content in all circumstances". The future looks bright and I know I am "someone" to God, so what else matters? I've got a new place to live, great family and friends, my '96 Corsica and a heart to perservere. Oh yeah, and that trusty bottle of Ozarka water.


ableknife said...

This is beautiful. I relate to this so much, it's uncanny. I am also 26, but am now one of those diaper bag toting moms. But, not always. If you want to know more, please go to my blog i kept while i traveled through europe 3 years ago:

Also, i recently read a book that might be helpful as you're trying to figure out your purpose. It's a Christian book called Chazown by Craig Groeschel. It's very helpful in not only seeing your gifts, but also recognizing struggles you've had and how those tie in with your ultimate purpose. blessings on your journey ~

RoniZee said...

Oh the beautiful irony! Here you are, thinking fondly of the house-buying and the comfy-job-holding, when that's where I am and I am thinking fondly of the vagabond life. Of freedom and openendedness. Maybe we should switch for a week or 52?

Sucks what you are going through. Wherever you end up (Portland), I hope you have more fabulous times. And truly I don't see how you would not have fabulous times. It's just who you are. Deal with it.

Oh, and remember that whatever adventure you end up cooking up sure to call me, because I am coming too!

marge said...

i totally understand what your talking about
here i have too lost my faith but yet in some degree found it again
it will take time ( how long i cant say) and i want you to know
that i do look up to you and need you and that
i can honestly say i dont know what i would do if we had never been friends
i will be praying for you
im always here with you
i love you sooo much
you are someone who aboustly amazing wounderful a woman i look up to
i love you

Krista said...

You are a great writer...I love this post! I cannot fully understand what you're going through as I have never been through the same sort of transition that you're going through right now. But I can understand the confusion, uncertainty and searching. I think that more people than you realize are probably feeling like this in one aspect of life or another.

I admire your decision to follow Paul's example. I'm sure that great things are in store for you.

Carrie said...

Hey...P.S. you can always move down here.. I need you, my ministry needs you, Texas needs you... :)

Tiffany said...

Ditto. I know Michelle struggled with a lot of these same emotions, and I never knew what to say to her, either. Other than, hang in there and I love you!

And if you want to feel special and unique, may I recommend Nov. 17-19 as an ideal weekend to come get your bags? If you want to feel needed, I'll even not clean before you come! That's just how much I care.

Thoughts, protection, all that. Miss yo!

keri said...

Ang, I know you and I have talked at length about the transition back to the US. You know where I am at and I know where you are at...the great thing is: We are praying for each other. I recently came across these two prayers (they will be added to this comment). They have helped me quite a bit this week. I want you to know that you are not alone. I am right here struggling with you, just my struggle is happening in Tampa, Florida. Know that you are loved and prayed for daily (many times a day...whenever I am feeling lonely, sad, frustrated, hopeless, not needed or I see your name I pray for you.) Let's start working on our book!

Love, Keri

Here are those prayers:
Prayer of Thomas Merton
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me
Nor do I really know myself,
And the fact that I think I am following your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
Does in fact please you.
And I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
You will lead me by the right road
Though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though,
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
And you will never leave me to face my struggles alone. Amen.
Prayer for discernment
God our Father,
You have a plan for each one of us,
You hold out to us a future full of hope.
Give us the wisdom of your Spirit
so that we can see the shape of your plan
in the gifts you have given us,
and in the circumstances of our daily lives.
Give us the freedom of your Spirit,
to seek you with all our hearts,
and to choose your will above all else.
We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Amy Nickerson said...

Ang, I can totally relate. I have no other words but that. I love you!

fabricsnob said...

hey Angie--
I got back yesterday (10/31). Not trying to make you jealous... but I visited the Travel Bookstore again and I remembered being there with you, Tiffany and Amanda. You said something to the effect of wanting to write travel books. =)Having said that, I have no idea what you're going through exactly. The transition you're making is uncomfortably big. Bigger than the one when you moved to England because you've returned changed. I'm thinking of you and praying for you.
I have felt as you describe though, not knowing what I'm here to do. I still feel that way some and I'm 6 years out of college. I've decided this though. Some people know exactly what or who they want to be in life regarding profession. I'm not that person. I have more intangible goals for profession (solving problems, getting answers, etc) and less concrete idea of what that form really is. I read part of "What Color is Your Parachute" when I was re-evaluating my job. It helped me identify themes in my professional life. You seem more self-aware than I am, but hey, I like to help solve problems.
Much love sista! -Mel

April said...

I just want to say that I love you! I will keep you in my prayers.