It’s the end of Lent.
And, of course, that means I feel awful. I haven’t been all that faithful in my prayer life. I had a hint of a sore throat earlier this week. I have no idea what to preach for Easter. And I’m feeling generally blah. OK. Not awful. Awful is overly dramatic. Awful is completely and totally exaggerated. I’m just feeling blah. The rain in the Pacific Northwest doesn’t help. It’s sunny today. But, still. Though, truth be told, I felt the same way in Maine’s snow. It’s really just that I long for spring. I long for change. I want something to shift — as Easter seems to promise and I’m not really feeling it.
All of this leads to a frustrated angst-filled cry when I open an application for continuing education that simply asks: Tell us about yourself. It’s like they know that this is the one question that scares me most. Because, I really, truly have no idea what to write. I know what I don’t want to write. I don’t want to list off my qualifications as if I’m spouting off my resume. I don’t want to be defined by the education I’ve earned, the awards I’ve been gifted or even my standing in the United Church of Christ. I know very well that where I went to college and seminary defined who I am. I know that the jobs and the calls I have said yes to have marked my identity forever and ever. But, I want to be more than my resume. I want to be able to say something else about who I am.
This particular application is for a continuing education opportunity that I really, really, really want to attend. So, obviously, I want this application to kick ass. I want it to be so amazing that the powers-that-be won’t bat an eye. They will be so excited to have me because I know exactly how to talk about myself in the box that have provided for that very purpose. The words are important because it’s an opportunity to explore my writing. So, words really matter. Really well-chosen words that glimmer would really help. But, I have been staring at this application for a week and I still don’t know what to say.
I am reminded of an email conversation I shared with my TYCWP friend Katherine Willis Pershey after she published this amazing essay in The Christian Century. I was blown away by these words. I was inspired by them and they challenged me to remember that part of me that really wanted to write with this level of vulnerability. (Yeah, I’ll say it. I’m jealous.) So, I sent my friend Katherine an email to ask for advice. I asked her about her process and her inspiration. And then, after an email or two, I asked her if she thought it was easier to write about these things when you have children. It’s something I’ve noticed in the blogging world. There’s an easy comfort — or even radical authenticity — that has emerged among mothers who write. On internet pages, they tell the dark side of motherhood. They admit they are slackers. They point out the less than stellar moments. And there’s a collective sigh that I read in the comments like a huge breath of fresh air. There’s a sense of relief that someone actually told the truth. But, I’m not a mother. I’m not even sure that I’m called to be a mother. I’m a single woman with single girl habits that no one really wants to read about. I mean, there might be a collective sigh. Maybe. But, unlike those moms, there is a truth in my single woman stories that no one really wants to see themselves in. Oh. C’mon. Be honest. There might be laughter but it’s the more awkward kind. The kind that reads these words, awkwardly giggling, and can’t stop thinking, “Oh, you poor thing.” Really, it’s OK. I do the same thing. I feel the exact same way every single time I read an article from the Single Rev’s Guide to Life — and I wrote some of those words. I know. I know what you’re thinking. You can say it: You poor thing.
But, I’m really not that pathetic. I like being single most of the time. I am fiercely independent and as stubborn as my mother made me. (Actually, my dad has equal credit for that trait.) I haven’t given up dreaming. I still think that I can change the world. I haven’t accepted that all of that is behind me — left to someone younger and more idealistic. I still have those qualities. But, how do you put that into words? Because something has changed. I have grown up from the girl that I once was. My dreams have changed into something that I can’t quite articulate. The words are a jumbled mess in my head. I can’t string them together in any logical way to say — with complete confidence — this is who I am and this is what I want to do. And so, the cursor blinks on the screen waiting for me to come up with something brilliant.